Food Dehydrator Buyer’s Guide

Food dehydration is one of the oldest known methods of preserving food. Recently the use of food dehydrators has added a modern twist to this tried and tested method of food preservation, with food dryers becoming a preferred method for creating healthy food and snacks. With the growing number of Australians seeking to live a healthy lifestyle, food hydrators are increasing in popularity. However, there are many different options out there available. Which is the best food dehydrator for you? This buying guide will look at different features to consider for your purchase as well as the benefits of using food dehydrators.

Food Dehydrator black with fresh fruit on trays

What Features Should I Consider?  

Food dehydrators are fairly simple appliances; however, there are a variety of different options and features to evaluate. Additionally, there are many different varieties of food dehydrators on the market today, making it easy to find one that fits your needs. Let’s take a look at some of the different options to consider in your search.

Stacking vs. Shelf Models

There are two basic types of food dehydrators, stacking and shelf. Stacking models use trays that stack atop of one another with a core channel that promotes air flow. The other type is the shelf design, which is convenient because it produces a more even drying and the shelves can easily be taken out to check for doneness.

Capacity

One of the central things that needs to be considered is the size or capacity that you find ideal. Food dehydrators come in a variety of sizes ranging from relatively small to rather large. Shelf models can have as little as three trays and as much as 16. Determining the amount of food you’d like to dehydrate can help you determine the best food dehydrator for your needs. 

Nutritional Content Retention

One of the most important characteristics of food dehydrators to identify is the amount of nutritional content that is retained. One of the problems with some food dehydrators is that they can deplete the nutritional content of food that is dried. This can particularly lose things such as beta carotene and Vitamin A. This is why finding a food dehydrator that ensures maximum retention of nutrients is important. Two stage sequential temperature timing systems are useful for ensuring this.

Free of Harmful Substances

Since food dehydrators have a heating element, it is important to find environmentally sound versions. This means trying to find stainless steel dehydrators and BPA free dehydrators, which are guaranteed to avoid toxic components. Trays should be BPA free while stainless steel is a good choice because it is non-reactive to acidic foods.

Adjustable Thermostat

Temperature controls are important for ensuring that the dehydrator is able to handle a wide range of types of items. Additionally, when dehydrating meats, temperatures need to be raised to ensure food safety. Thus, an adjustable thermostat is important. A large range is optimal while a maximum temperature should be at least 70 degrees Celsius.

Timer

Many items need to dry for a specific amount of time, which can typically take many hours. Thus, you’ll definitely want a food dehydrator with a timer feature. This will enable you to have the convenience of ensuring that the dehydrator operates for the exact amount of time needed to produce a perfect outcome. 

Single or Dual Fans

Most food dehydrators come with a singular fan. However, an increasing number of models have dual fans, some with built-in heating coils. These allow for maximum control and perfect drying. Additionally, look for options that are designed to be quiet as some dehydrators can be quite loud.

Warranty

Most food dehydrators come with a 30-day warranty. However, some of the best ones come with much longer warranties of up to five years. Thus, while not important for the functioning of the unit, warranties can provide peace of mind for the consumer.

Dried Pear Chips and Pears in a bowl

Benefits of Dehydrated Food

Another thing to consider when determining whether or not to purchase a food dehydrator is how dehydrated foods can be incorporated into your diet. For individuals interested in a healthy diet, dehydrated foods can be a useful addition. Let’s consider the various different benefits of dehydrated food.

Healthy and Natural

One of the biggest benefits of dehydrating food is that you know exactly what you are ingesting. There is no need to worry about chemicals or preservatives. This is one of the major reasons people opt to buy food dehydrators. Additionally, dehydrating maintains a greater amount of nutritional content than cooking or steaming. This ensures you can maximize the health benefits of the food you consume.

Sustainable

Dehydrated food is an excellent option for the consumer interested in sustainability. By dehydrating food, you can vastly reduce food waste. We all know that fruits and vegetables go bad quickly. However, dehydrated foods can have a shelf life of up to two years. This means you’ll throw less away, being more environmentally sound.

Affordable

Dehydrated food definitely helps improve the budget. In addition to lowering food waste and making fruits and vegetables last longer, you can also avoid prices by optimizing when you purchase items. With dehydration, you can purchase fruits and vegetables in season and preserve them for later in the year. Additionally, there will no longer be a need to purchase certain “gourmet” foods like sun dried tomatoes and kale chips as you can make your own. 

Portability

Dehydrated foods are easy to store. They are compact and lightweight. This means they are excellent for packing for a road trip or the airport. Additionally, the convenience of being able to dehydrate large amounts of food at once is a definite benefit for being able to always have food on hand to grab and go. 

Variety of Options

There are many different things that can be prepared with a food dehydrator. From the basics to things like dried herbs and fruit rollups, there are many options. Additionally, you can make potpourri, dried flowers, fire starters, and dog treats. The number of things you can do with a food dehydrator is quite impressive.

Great for Special Diets

Considering trying a new diet. Food is typically dehydrated at such low temperatures that it is considered to be appropriate for a raw food diet. Food dehydrators are also great for plant-based diets. 

Health Benefits

Studies have shown that there are a lot of specific health benefits linked to consuming dehydrated foods, which isn’t surprising given the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. These include lower risks of some types of cancer, improved digestion, and increased levels of energy.

Stainless Steel Food dehydrator grey

Final Thoughts 

Food dehydrators have been around for a long time, but they are becoming increasingly popular. This has led to the advent of many different types with many options. When looking for the ideal food dehydrator, there are a number of things you’ll want to consider. One is whether you’d prefer a stacking or a shelf model. Also consider whether you’d prefer single or dual fans. However, in general, the best food dehydrator will have the following features:

  • Capacity to meet your needs
  • Adjustable thermostat with high range
  • High nutritional content retention
  • Lengthy product warranty
  • Programmable timer
  • Free of harmful substances 

Overall, finding the perfect food dehydrator will allow you to take advantage of many convenient benefits of adding dehydrated food to your diet including improved health, lower food waste, and cost savings among other things.