Is Buying a Cheap Food Dehydrator Worth the Price?

It’s important to understand that while there may be a large investment up front with food dehydrators, your food dehydrator can quickly pay for itself. For example, beef jerky from the store can cost up to twenty five dollars per pound. It’s much cheaper to make it at home.

There are a number of features that are common to all food dehydrators and some that are only available on more expensive models. A good place to start is to figure out which features you need and which features you can live without. This will help you in choosing the best food dehydrator for your budget. Remember that more expensive does not necessarily mean better. On the other hand buying a cheaper model that will wear out or that you will quickly outgrow does not make much sense.

The first thing to consider is the amount of space available in the dehydrator to actually dry food. While smaller models might be cheaper, if you have a large family (or just eat a lot of dried snacks) you might need the larger model.

Another thing to consider is air flow – which is how the drying is actually done. Air flow moves either horizontally or vertically. Dehydrators that feature a horizontal air flow have their fan and heating element located to one side with trays that slide out like drawers. These models are usually more expensive, but they have some major advantages. In the first place, horizontal air flow means that air is not mixing between trays so you can dry a variety of foods at the same time. The location of the fan and heating element also means that you don’t have to worry about dripping from marinades harming the element or fan. Horizontal units also tend to have more even air flow which means not having to shuffle trays around as things dry. Vertical flow units have their fan and heating element located either on the top or bottom of the appliance with trays that stack. These units tend to be cheaper, but they flavors will mix between trays. This is only a problem if you want to make more than one kind of snack at a time. In some models you need to move trays around during the drying process to even out the drying on each tray. Also, if the fan and heating element is located on the base of the unit, marinades and juices might drip and potentially short out the unit.

Something to absolutely look for is a thermostat. While some cheaper food dehydrators don’t have one, no thermostat means that you will not be able to vary the temperature in your dehydrator. This is fine if you intend to only ever dry one thing (such as jerky) but not if you want to try dehydrating various ingredients.

Two features you can be a bit more flexible on are wattage and timers. These will affect the price of the unit, but you might not necessarily need the more expensive option. With wattage, the higher the wattage the more expensive the unit is since it means you can dry more food more quickly. If you have time to wait a little longer and/or you don’t intend to dry large amounts at once, this is an area you can save money on. Likewise, some units come with a timer that automatically shuts the unit off. If you are out of the house for long periods of time (think twelve hours or more) then this might be a necessity for you. Otherwise, you can keep an eye on while you are cooking and turn the unit off yourself.

Do your research before buying your food dehydrator to make sure you get the best dehydrator for the best price. Look online for reviews of different models. And don’t forget sites where you might be able to find a used model.