Food Dehydrator Buying Tips and Uses

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Dehydrating fruits, vegetables, and even meat is a great way to save money and to preserve food. Food spoilage is caused by bacteria in food that can grow and multiply to dangerous levels. One thing that bacteria and all life, for that matter, need is water. Dehydration is the process of removing water from food by application of gentle heat. Dehydration used be done in the sun, but as technology has advanced, appliances like food dehydrators are common. There are many food dehydrators on the market, but not all are created equal.

The Basics of a Food Dehydrator

Modern food dehydrators work by passing gently warmed air over the surface of food for several hours. The heated air draws out moisture from the food and causes it to evaporate. Typically, home model food dehydrators consist of a base with a heating element and fan installed and several layers of tray where the food is placed. Foods like vegetables, fruits, and meats need to be sliced thinly in order to draw out as much moisture as possible in as little time as possible. The quicker food is dehydrated, the less chance for bacteria to grow and multiply.

Benefits of Owning a Food Dehydrator

For people who like to preserve their own foods by canning or freezing, dehydrating food can present another option. For individuals who do a lot of camping or hiking in the wilderness, dehydrating food is one of the best options for food preservation. For one, when water is removed from the foods, the size and weight of the items being dehydrated shrinks dramatically. This makes packing dehydrated food more space economical and creates a lighter load. Next, dehydrated food does not need refrigeration and can be taken to any location without the need to keep them cool. Canned foods also do not need refrigeration as long as they are sealed, but once the seal has been broken, they too need to be kept cool. Food dehydrators are also economical. Studies have shown that a large amount of produce is often thrown away before it can be eaten because it rots quickly. By using a food dehydrator, people can save their food indefinitely before having to throw it away. Another use for food dehydrators is to make dry herbs. Dry and fresh herbs are expensive to buy every time a recipe calls for them. However, buy purchasing a few fresh herb plants for a home garden, individuals can dehydrate those herbs and store them for later use, saving money.

Buying Tips

There are many food dehydrators on the market that vary in design, capacity, and price. Three types of basic designs are available that differ only in the way that the heating element and fan are positioned. The heating element and fan can be placed either at the bottom, the top, or the side of the unit. It’s best to choose a model where the heating element is either at the bottom or the side since heat rises. Side heating units have one extra advantage over bottom mounted heating elements in that they will not collect liquid that may drip from the foods in the dehydrating trays.

Next, a shopper has to consider what kind of capacity that he wants the food dehydrator to have. If the dehydrator will be used frequently to dry out a large volume of food, a larger capacity dehydrator should be bought. On the other hand, if the food dehydrator will only be used occasionally, a smaller capacity appliance is better suited for that application. Smaller dehydrators should have heating elements rated below 500 watts to ensure that the food does not over dehydrate, while larger dehydrators should have heating elements that are 1000 watts or more so that enough moisture is drawn out among all the trays.


Buying a food dehydrator is a practical and economical way to preserve food. Even if food preservation isn’t a primary goal, food dehydrators can still be used for other purposes like creating beef jerky, making fruit snacks, and drying herbs. A well crafted food dehydrator makes a great addition to any cook’s arsenal of appliances.

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