One of the most useful appliances anyone can have in the kitchen, food dehydrators are practically oozing with cooking, financial and- more importantly- health benefits. Indeed, instead of indulging in sugar-loaded, chemically-laden commercial dried fruit rolls, you’ll be able to enjoy healthier treats at any hour of the day or night. Best of all, these apparatuses are extremely easy to operate and come in several price ranges, allowing you to easily purchase one even if you’re on a limited budget.
Now while they are extremely handy to have in the kitchen, users do need to be particularly careful when they’re shopping for their appliances. Here are some of the most important points to remember when buying your food dehydrator.
Size is quite an important issue that you’ll need to take into consideration when shopping for your dehydrator. If you’re on a limited budget, you might want to go for a machine with a smaller capacity since these are normally on the cheaper side.
Food dehydrators can either be expandable or non-expandable. Non-expandable appliances can dry one batch at a time which can be quite tedious for anyone who wants to dehydrate several types of produce at the same time.
Users who want to dry larger batches would be better advised to go for expandable food dehydrators. These machines are normally just as compact as regular ones but you can separately acquire additional trays to be stacked upon the others. This allows you to save up on quite a bit of counter space while drying multiple produce at the same time. Expandable machines are normally recommended for larger families or for anyone who doesn’t want to use the appliance on a regular basis. This way, you can simply dry a larger-than-average batch and store the produce for later use.
Of course, it goes without saying that the price is one of the major concerns when it comes to buying your food dehydrator. Budding users should preferably go for an appliance with fewer features since these are much more affordable. On the other hand, if you want a machine that can sustain daily, heavy-duty use, it’s better to invest more in an appliance that can easily last for several decades, if not for life.
Remember to select a machine that comes with a solid manufacturer’s warranty as well to ensure that you’re covered if you ever encounter a problem with your food dehydrator. To help you choose the best appliance for your particular price-range, here we’ve gathered our top 5 dehydrator models by price:
|$30 - 50||$50 - 100||$100 - 200||$200 - 400||$400 +|
|Presto 06300 Dehydro||Snackmaster Pro||Nesco Gardenmaster||Excalibur 3926TB||Excalibur Stainless Steel
Food Dehydrators normally come with two options for air flow: vertical and horizontal. Each of them have their own pros and cons. It is important to consider which type of air flow will best suit your personal requirements before investing in the appliance. The two main types of air flow include:
- Vertical: Machines that vertically distribute air often have fans situated on either the bottom or the top of the unit. This ensures an even heat distribution since the heat rises upwards or flows down to spread across every single tray. By this token, a vertical air flow also ensures that your food takes less time to dehydrate. Appliances with vertical air flows are also recommended for tougher food like meat, bulky root vegetables and various types of jerky. A good example of a vertical air flow, top-mounted fan is the popular Nesco FD-60 Snackmaster Express.
- Horizontal: With a horizontal air flow, the fan is usually located at the back of the appliance. Now while they do not always ensure even heat distribution, these machines ensure that the flavors don’t get mixed up. Therefore, you’ll be able to dehydrate various types of food at the same time and easily mix delicate flavors with more pungent aromas like fish and vegetables, poultry and fruits and the likes. Food dehydrators with a horizontal air flow also tend to be much larger than their vertical counterparts, which is more appropriate for anyone who wants to dry larger batches at the same time.
Appliances with a vertical air flow and bottom-mounted fans are more difficult to clean because the drippings from meats, fruits and vegetables can occasionally drip onto the nooks and crannies that are found around the fan region. Despite this, models with bottom-mounted fans tend to be cheaper, as is the case with the Waring Pro. Machines with horizontal air flow, on the other hand, tend to be much more expensive than those with a vertical air flow.
The accessibility feature is another point to consider when you’re shopping for your appliance. The ease of use and accessibility of your food dehydrator depends on the model that you’ve chosen to go for, with the two main models being:
- Stacking models: While stacking models are usually known for their capacity to dehydrate larger batches at the same time, they can be slightly cumbersome as far as ease of use is concerned. Indeed, users who want to remove something from the bottom tray will absolutely need to remove the top trays before accessing their produce. This can not only cost you some extra minutes but your food will also take longer to dehydrate since constantly opening and closing the appliance might result in loss of hot air.
- Shelf tray models: If ease of use is important to you, you can therefore go for shelf-tray models. These look like regular ovens, with trays that fold out not unlike drawers. These appliances are usually equipped with horizontal air flow and heat that can dry quite a large amount of food in the same batch. With shelf tray dehydrators, you won’t have to always rotate the trays either.
Most dehydrating machines include additional features designed to facilitate the drying process. These include:
- Thermostat: Most people automatically assume that thermostats are included in all food dehydrators but this is not the case. In fact, cheaper and low-quality machines are often devoid of this optional albeit extremely important feature. With a proper thermostat, users can regulate the temperature according to the type of food they put in the appliance. For example, meat and chicken jerkies require a much higher temperature than, say, strawberries or bananas. Therefore, a thermostat can largely aid in the dehydrating process. Best of all, you can easily find appliances with thermostat included for a reasonable price, such as the Nesco FD-80 Square-Shaped.
- Timer: If you have a busy schedule, you’ll most certainly benefit from an appliance that comes with a built-in timer. These are undeniably more expensive. However, a built-in timer will ensure that your food is always perfectly dehydrated without becoming too dry or hard. This gadget also allows you to leave the machine on during the night and wake up to a perfectly nutritious breakfast the following day.