The process of drying out or dehydrating food has been practiced by people for centuries. Early on, people mainly relied on the heat of the sun and the heat produced by firewood to dry out their food. These days, the whole practice has become a bit more sophisticated.
You no longer have to line up slices of fruit, vegetables, or even meat on slabs of stone and then place them directly under the sun to start the process of dehydration. Food dehydrators are available now, and they are way more convenient to use.
If you’ve never really considered getting a food dehydrator previously, it’s an investment worth making. Think about it: instead of chowing down on potato chips loaded with sodium, or sugary cookies made in factories, you can snack on healthier pieces of dried fruit and vegetables.
Along with cutting down your snack expenses, you can also do your body a favor by eating healthier.
In this article, we will talk at length about some of the best food dehydrators that are currently available. For those who want to snack smarter, reading on is a must.
Top 5: Food Dehydrator Machines Review
Product Image & Rating (Out Of 10)
If you’re still new to the whole practice of food dehydration, it may be a good idea to start small. Check out a smaller dehydrator, see if you like the product it provides and perhaps invest later on in something bigger if you do. Now, the folks out there who already know that they are very fond of dehydrated food don’t need to go small. They can go right ahead and check out the 3926TB 9-Tray Dehydrator from Excalibur.
The name already gives it away but it’s still worth reiterating just how massive this thing is. You’re getting nine trays to use for storing the food and that comes out to about 15 square feet of available space. Fill up the nine trays with food and your whole family can enjoy a snack stash that lasts for a long time.
Since this dehydrator works within an adjustable temperature range of 105 to 165°F, you can dry out different kinds of food items ranging from fruits to slices of meat. The 26-hour capacity timer will also prevent your food from being dried out excessively.
Considering the amount of food that can be dehydrated in this device, you will be paying a bit more than some of the other machines out there. It costs way more than a lot of the alternatives available. I can definitely say it’s worth the money, but it may not be in everyone’s price range.
Don’t want to put down hundreds of dollars for a dehydrator? The good news is that you can still get a good dehydrator without paying an arm and a leg. The FD-75A Snackmaster Pro from NESCO is a fine example of a cost-effective option.
Don’t worry because the lower price tag doesn’t mean you’re getting a low quality item. You get five trays right away and you can add seven more if you spend extra. Take note that you’re still not getting a ton of space with the 12 trays inserted, but you should be able to process a good amount of food.
The working temperature range that goes from 95 up to 165°F means that you can dehydrate to your preference. It’s also worth noting that you’re getting a recipe book so you can experiment right away with this piece of equipment as soon as you take it home.
You will have to get your own timer when using this item though since there isn’t one built into it. Another issue to point out is that the food items may dry out at different rates depending on how they are arranged. You may want to rotate the trays every now and then to combat that issue.
The GFD1650 Premium Food Dehydrator from Gourmia is what I would consider to be a good starter for folks thinking about getting into this practice of food preparation/storage. Let’s start with the space. You’re given six trays to use and they’re pretty roomy as well. If you want to be sure that the dried food tastes as it should, make use of the space to keep the items apart and prevent cross-contamination.
The trays included can also be adjusted in order to give you more space if needed. Notably, the trays are not designed to be cleaned using the dishwasher. You’ll need to spend a bit more time cleaning up once you’re done using this dehydrator.
This dehydrator also features eight preset temperature settings. Depending on your level of experience, the preset temperatures can be great to have or they may get in your way.
If you’re still new to this whole thing, the presets are probably going to help you out a lot because you don’t really have to guess how hot the machine needs to be. On the other hand, being unable to deviate from the presets to get the temperature right where you want it to be can be a bit annoying if you’re going for a specific preparation. You’ll either find this machine very helpful or you’ll be left wishing it could do more.
Uneven heating can sometimes be an issue with food dehydrators. A poorly-located fan can lead to food items in certain spots drying out faster than the ones surrounding them. Dried food can be delicious, but food that has been excessively dehydrated will make you feel like you’re gnawing on tree bark. Magic Mill’s Commercial Pro 6-Tray Food Dehydrator stands out from the pack because it never has that problem.
The fan that is tasked with dehydrating the food is located at the rear of this machine. Because of where it’s positioned, the fan can properly dry out both sides of whichever food item is being processed at the same time. Even the items positioned closest to the fan will not dry up any faster because of the way the air moves throughout the machine.
To further prevent any instances where the food may dry out too much, this dehydrator also comes equipped with an automatic shut-off timer that works in conjunction with the standard timer. Even if you forget that you have food in this machine, you can rest assured that it will not be scorched.
The protective feature against overheating works to keep your home free from any accidents that could be brought about by leaving this item unattended. You won’t be able to get this one on the cheap though. It’s definitely a good product and one you’ll be glad to have in your kitchen, but the price attached may prove too much for some.
As you’ve seen, some of the available options are big and boxy. You may be unable to find room for them in your cramped kitchen. If you’re a homeowner without a lot of room to spare in your kitchen, the PKFD06 Professional Food Dehydrator from NutriChef could very well be your best option.
This is easily one of the more portable dehydrators you’ll see. However, being portable doesn’t mean you’re missing out on a ton of space. You’re still getting five trays to place your food on when you’re ready to start the dehydration process.
The reason why this product can manage to remain compact while still offering a substantial amount of space for your food is because the trays are stackable. You can squeeze a lot of food into those stackable trays. Being stackable also makes the trays easier to clean.
Unfortunately, the trays are not very durable. Don’t be surprised if one breaks if you’ve been using this dehydrator for a while. Outside of the trays not being as durable as you would want them to be, this is still a pretty good dehydrator. It can work on meat even if it is on the smaller side. Should the need ever arise for you to buy a portable food dehydrator, you know which one to get.
Both items provide you with more than enough space for your dehydration needs and the one from Magic Mill is easy to use even if you’re busy doing other things in the kitchen. Yes, it’s annoying to have to watch the food items inside the NESCO dehydrator to make sure they dry out evenly, but that issue is worth tolerating considering the value you’re getting.
Commonly Asked Questions
With the reviews out of the way, let’s use this time to discuss some important questions – questions you may very well be asking yourself if you’re not familiar with this piece of kitchen equipment.
What Is the Best Food Dehydrator for Home Use?
We like the Magic Mill Commercial Pro 6-Tray Food Dehydrator as the best dehydrator to use at home. It comes with many features that will prevent accidents and because of the way it dries your food, you won’t have to constantly monitor it.
Your kitchen equipment should work for you instead of the other way around, so this is one that gets the biggest seal of approval.
Is Dehydrated Food Healthy?
The University of Missouri found that food that has undergone the drying out process has an "affected" nutritive value. To be more specific, vitamins A and C can be eliminated by dehydration.
Still, a variety of healthy substances do remain inside dried food. Harvard Health notes that you can find plenty of fiber and antioxidants in dried food.
You also have to remember that dried food is often used as a substitute for snack foods such as chips and cookies. From that perspective, you’re getting healthier from eating dried food simply because it is better for you than those popular snack options.
How Long Does Dehydrated Fruit Last?
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the majority of dried fruits can last in storage for around a year if they are consistently kept at 60°F. If you’re storing them at 80°F, they may only be able to last for about six months.
The rule of thumb to remember here is that the amount of time your dried fruits will remain edible will shorten as the storage temperature goes higher.
What Should You Look for When Buying a Food Dehydrator?
Make it a point to keep the factors listed below in mind. Doing so will help ensure that you get the best one for your home.
Food dehydrators can be either stackable models or box-style offerings.
Stackable models are usually more affordable and more compact. They should be able to fit inside your kitchen easily.
Box-style dehydrators are often more expensive, but they are better performers. You don’t have to worry about the food not being dried properly if you use one of these.
Look for dehydrators with a working temperature that can go from as low as 85°F all the way up to 160°F at the very least. It’s important to find a dehydrator that can feature a higher range of heat if you want to make beef jerky or other forms of dried meat.
Plastic trays are perfectly fine inside food dehydrators, but try to check how they hold up when dealing with pressure. You don’t want plastic trays that can break easily and ruin a batch of food you’re drying.
If you’re getting a dehydrator, make sure that it can at least house five trays of food. Drying food takes a lot of time and you don’t want to do it multiple times within a day if you can help it.
Timers that automatically shut the dehydrator off and other features that will prevent the machine from heating too much are always welcome. You’re dealing with appliances that have to work for a long time, and you want to be certain that they won’t malfunction and cause a fire inside your home.
If you’re looking to add a food dehydrator to add to your kitchen, you should definitely check out those aforementioned items.