Recently I posted about drying foods in your oven, but doing this is typically less energy efficient than using a dehydrator because of the long time – several hours and up to a full day – which you have to keep your oven on. 

The best food dehydrator for your need will largely depend on your particular preferences and how you plan on using it. 
Buying a dehydrator is a relatively small investment that can pay off with significant perks for you and your family.

These benefits include…

  • avoiding food waste
  • enjoying local and organic foods year-round 
  • having a full pantry available when any natural disaster comes
  • having a store of dehydrated foods on hand when the “world comes to an end as we know it” 
  • having healthy, nutrient-dense snacks on hand 
  • providing nutritional benefits…Dried foods keep in most of the nutrients, so you get the benefits of the vitamins and minerals than you would if you ate the food fresh. 
  • saving money on snacks—dehydrating costs half as much as canning and almost seven times less than freezing
  • snacking on out-of-season fruits and vegetables, no matter what time of year it is 
  • Scientifically, food dehydration is a pretty simple concept. You merely need to keep the food at a consistent, high enough temperature for a long enough time to dry out a portion of the moisture. 

The biggest challenge is ensuring that the heat is evenly distributed.

To help you make the most informed buying decision, you should have a good idea of how much you’re willing to spend, what options are available, and what types of food you most want to try dehydrating, 

1.  Cost…A home food dehydrator typically costs anywhere from $30 to over $300…based on what particular features you value most and what type of food dehydrator you choose to go with.

2.  Design...There are basically two categories of food dehydrators—vertical flow dehydrators with stackable trays where the food is stacked vertically, and horizontal flow dehydrators constructed of a rigid box with removable shelves where the food is lined up side by side.

  • Vertical flow dehydrators have a heat source at the base or at the top, and are more affordable. Although these dehydrators don’t spread heat as uniformly, they work well enough for most vegetables and fruits, but not for meat jerky.
  • Horizontal flow food dehydrators, or shelf tray food dehydrators, work more like conventional oven, and the heating source located in the back. 

3.  Noise…The fan on food dehydrators produces noise. Check review sites and consumer reviews to see what people are saying about the noise levels of the dehydrator you’re thinking about buying.

4.  Size..Consider how much food you’ll want to make in one batch and how much space you have available in your kitchen. Smaller vertical flow models will take up less counter space, but typically have a smaller capacity. If you will want to dehydrate a lot of food in a short span of time, buy a larger model.

5.  Thermostat…Make sure that you can adjust the temperature in your unit because different types of foods will dry best under different temperatures.

6.  Timer…Food dehydration takes hours, which makes it potentially easy to forget about. A dehydrator with a timer helps ensure you can check on your food when needed and be alerted when it’s ready.

7.  Upkeep…Also keep in mind how much work will go into cleaning the different models—the number of parts the food dehydrator has, whether or not pieces are safe to put in the dishwasher, and where the fan is located.

  
1.  L’Equip’s Model 528

  • Cost…
  • Drying Space…1.2 sq. feet of drying space per tray
  • Fan…base-mounted fans
  • Height…30 inches tall
  • Temp…93F to 158F
  • Trays…six trays, expandable to a stack of 12
  • Warranty…ten years
  • Watts…500

  
2.  Excalibur 9-Tray

  • Cost…
  • Drying Space…15 square feet 
  • Fan…rear-mounted
  • Height…12-1/2″
  • Temp…105◦F to 165◦F. 
  • Trays…9-large trays, 15″ x 15″ each
  • Watts…600 

  
3.  Nesco FD-1010 Gardenmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

  • Cost…$129.99
  • Drying Space…
  • Fan…base-mounted 
  • Height…30″ tall
  • Temp…95-160° F 
  • Trays..comes with four trays and can accommodate up to 30 trays
  • Watts…1000

  
4.  Presto 6300 Dehydrator

  • Cost…$35.09
  • Fan…base-mounted 
  • Height…15″ tall
  • Temp…between 135 and 145° F.
  • Trays…comes with four trays with it but can hold eight.
  • Watts…600

  
5.  Tribest Sedona Classic, SD-P9000-B Rawfood Dehydrator

  1. Cost…$449.95
  2. Fan…dual fan 
  3. Height…17″ tall
  4. Temp…85-155ºF (30-68ºC)
  5. Trays…nine.
  6. Watts…600

 

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