One third of the food produced in our world goes bad or is lost before it can be consumed, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This shocking situation takes place in both the industrialized world and in developing nations. Unfortunately, it also occurs in individual homes. A food dehydrator can help us each fight this daunting issue.

A food dehydrator allows food to be preserved for a longer period while still safeguarding all of its natural properties. Water is all that’s removed. You can use this appliance for fruits and vegetables in addition to meats and fish. We created this guide to summarize everything you should know about dehydrators and the best models found on the American market.

Key Facts

  • Dehydrating food is a method that has been in use for centuries. It’s a great way to preserve fruits all year round or to take advantage of foods that are on the verge of going bad.
  • Dehydrated food makes a perfect healthy snack, for a quick bite on the go or as part of your favorite recipes. And a dehydrator makes preserving food incredibly easy.
  • The dehydration process works to separate water from the food item while preserving its most important contents. In the meantime, the food gains a more intense flavor. The biggest plus is that foods that were headed for the trash will now last up to a year thanks to dehydration.

Ranking: The best food dehydrators in the market

The following section reviews the best food dehydrators available on the American market. We’ve described their unique characteristics and best features, to help you make the best purchasing decision. You’ll be able to evaluate what each one can offer as well as which model best suits your needs, while also keeping your budget in mind.

No. 1: Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehyrator

Amazon’s Choice for best dehydrator under $50 is this sleek model from American appliance manufacturer Presto. It features an expandable four-tray system that can be adapted to eight trays for superior drying capacity (additional trays sold separately). You’ll also benefit from the bottom-mounted fan and heating element that offer smooth, consistent air flow throughout, with no need for you to rotate the trays.

Use the Presto Dehydro 06300 to dehydrate fruits, vegetables, jerky, spices and more while preserving all the best natural nutrients. You can monitor your foods with the see-through cover, and easily clean this appliance after use by sticking the trays and cover right in the dishwasher. Don’t miss out on this amazing product.

No. 2: Homdox Dehydrator Machine

Here’s another Amazon Choice that will meet all your dehydrating needs. A bit pricier than the first option, this hefty dehydrator from Homdox comes with eight trays and 400 watts of power to provide you with ample space and speedy functions. Use the LCD digital temperature settings to adjust the temperature according to whatever food you’re making, and don’t worry about rotating because this device does it all for you with the Circusmart 360˚ Air-Flow Circulation System.

The Homdox Dehydrator even has two different interlayer heights to fit your specific preferences. Get started making dried fish, fruit, pet snacks and teas with this BPA-free, easy-to-clean machine.

No. 3: COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine

This powerful dehydrator from COSORI is sleek, quiet and packed with features that make it stand out among its competition. At a steeper price than our other top picks, this dehydrator offers you food-grade stainless steel housing, a touch-control LED display and six trays stainless steel trays. It also comes with one mesh screen and one fruit roll sheet.

Customers love its professional look, ease of use and the fact that it makes almost no noise! Just press the button and let it work its magic. There are a number of built-in safety measures such as overheat protection and automatic shutoff. On top of all that, this device comes with a two-year warranty and lifetime support from the manufacturer.

No. 4: NESCO FD-80A Square-Shaped Dehyrdator

Last but not least, here’s uniquely shaped dehydrator from NESCO/American Harvest, a leader in food dehydration for more than 30 years. Due to its square shape, this model achieves 41 percent more room for drying as compared to round versions. It also boasts a special air-circulation system that features a top-mounted fan and Converga-Flow Action. A 700-watt motor also contributes to speedy drying times and consistent results.

The adjustable thermostat on this appliance ranges from 95˚ to 155˚ F, so you can choose whatever is best for your food. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, this model will make you great dried fruits, vegetables herbs and meats in a snap.

Shopping guide: Everything you should know about food dehydrators

The next section will help you learn about the primary functions of food dehydrators. We’ll also review the factors to keep in mind when making your purchase, and we’ll show you some great recipes that can be made with a dehydrator.

Happy woman

Dehydration will help you limit waste from food.
(Source: Lenetstan: 50656893/ 123rf.com)

What exactly are food dehydrators and what can they be used for?

As the name suggests, a food dehydrator is a machine designed to preserve various types of foods. The dehydrator has become increasingly popular in American homes, since the dehydration process is perfect for keeping fruits, meats and other items for an extended period.

New technology has made preserving food easier than ever before.

Do food dehydrators provide the best preservation?

Many people consider dehydration to be the best method of preserving food. But the below points show you a handful of other methods available, so that you can decide for yourself. Bear in mind that all of these techniques are useful, but they can’t all be used frequently and some do not maintain the food’s properties.

  • Freezing. The change in temperature that occurs when freezing food affects its nutrients. The molecular structure changes, leading to a difference in taste and texture upon thawing. The shelf life of frozen foods is shorter, with a maximum of six months.
  • Canned food. Canned foods are subjected to extremely high temperatures in order to prevent the formation of bacteria. During this process, nutrients are also modified at the molecular level. You should consume this kind of food in moderation because the plasticizers present in cans can be toxic.
  • Smoking. Smoking can be used to remove microbes from cooked food. This technique is especially useful for preserving fish, meat and sausages. Still, you should limit your consumption of these foods, since some elements found in the smoke can negatively impact your health.
  • Salting. Salted food acidifies, which can change its taste and properties.
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Food has been preserved with sun-drying methods since the Antiquity period.

So why not use sun-drying?

Since sun-drying is an ancient method, some might think that drying food under the sun would be a great option, especially since the sun is free resource. But we now are aware of some reasons why sun-drying actually isn’t the best idea. We’ve laid them out in the below table.

Reason Explanation
Weather Relying on the weather is unpredictable
Hygiene Food can be exposed to dirt
Insects They may consume or come into contact with food
Drying control You can’t precisely control the amount of drying

What are the benefits of having a food dehydrator?

As you may have noticed by now, this appliance provides many benefits. Here are some additional reasons why you should have this appliance in your home. We’re certain that you’ll discover that a dehydrator is just the thing you’ve been looking for.

  • Conditions are maintained. This device regulates the dehydration process from beginning to end. It offers you the option to adjust both time and temperature, and keeps both stable as well.
  • Properties. When dehydrating food at a temperature of about 100 degrees, all of the food’s thermolabile characteristics are maintained. That means that its natural enzymes and nutrients aren’t altered by the heat. The rest of the components are also preserved. The only significant change is the amount of water stored.
  • Consumption. Dehydrators use a very limited amount of energy, and you’ll be saving even more since you don’t need to replace food that goes bad. Having dried foods stored away compensates for the cost of using the food dehydrator.
  • Contamination. Dehydrating food at home is one way to ensure that what you consume hasn’t been in contact with other foods. This is ideal for anyone with allergies.
  • Different textures. Dehydration isn’t used only to preserve food for longer. It’s also a great way to make healthy snacks or ingredients to use in your favorite recipes. All you need to do is set the right amount of time to get the desired texture and taste.
  • Versatility. As we’ve noted ealier, you can make many different recipes. One fun idea is to use cookie cutters to shape fruits and create unique snacks. You can also pulverize various ingredients to form salts or your own flavoring sugars.
  • Healthy food. Although you can find many dehydrated foods in stores, they’re usually not as healthy as the ones you make at home. They may contain preservatives, flours and dyes to make them look more appealing to consumers. If you use your own dehydrator, all your foods will be natural!
Dr. MoranoExpert in Aesthetic Medicine and Nutrition

“Dehydrated fruits are preserved for longer, retaining most nutrients and offering you a very comfortable and practical way to diversify your diet. They contain a great variety of essential nutrients such as antioxidants, soluble fibers and vitamins.”

What kinds of recipes can I make with a food dehydrator?

There are endless recipes that can be made with your food dehydrator. You can make everything from banana chips to yogurt to beef jerky. Here are three great recipes for you to try when you bring home your food dehydrator.

Peach and coconut fruit rolls

Gather four fresh peaches and some grated coconut. Blend the peaches until you’ve formed a cream, then put baking paper on a tray in the dehydrator and spread the peach mixture on top. Sprinkle the grated coconut over it.

Set your dehydrator to 130 degrees for approximately seven hours – this timing varies by appliance, so you may need to experiment a bit. Let the dough cool down and then cut it into strips. Roll it up and ta-da! You’ve got yourself a tasty, fresh snack.

Banana chips

For this recipe, get four bananas and four lemons. Begin by squeezing the lemons, then slice the bananas into one-centimeter long chunks. Soak them for about 15 minutes in the lemon juice. When that’s done, place the banana pieces on the dehydrator trays and set it to 150 degrees for two hours.

After two hours, lower the temperature to 120 degrees and leave it for another six hours. The texture of the chips will slowly become crisp. Try this recipe for any of your favorite fruits!

Portion of dried Banana Chips (sweet snack)

Dehydration will help you limit waste from food.
(Source: Lenetstan: 50656893/ 123rf.com)

Dried meat

This recipe calls for two pounds of meat. Blend 3.5 oz of soy and 3.5 oz of Worcestershire sauce, pepper, honey and garlic powder to form a marinade. Mix these ingredients in a bowl and then add the meat, which should be cut into half-centimeter long pieces. Let it sit for about twelve hours.

After that, put the meat into the dehydrator and cover with the marinade. Set the dehydrator to 115 degrees for about six hours. Serve the meat right away or store it in a sealed glass jar.

What other foods can be dehydrated?

There’s no limit to the foods you can dehydrate. This appliance’s versatility is one of its greatest advantages. That’s why we’ve put together a list of foods that you can dehydrate to get you started. Of course there are many more options out there!

Food Examples
Fruits Apples, strawberries, bananas, apricots, peaches, blueberries, kiwis and more
Vegetables Carrots, mushrooms, onions, leeks, cabbage, peppers and more
Meat Beef, chicken, pork, lamb and rabbit
Fish Salmon, cod, trout and hake
Seeds Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame

What are the pros and cons of food dehydrators?

Although food dehydrators present many advantages, they also have some disadvantages, primarily that dehydration can be time consuming and dehydrating foods can be tedious if you’re a beginner. Here are the most important pros and cons of food dehydrators:

Advantages
  • Preserve food longer
  • Maintain food nutrients
  • Prevent food waste
Disadvantages
  • You need to allocate time for the process
  • You’ll need space for storing the food

Shopping Criteria

If you want to pick the best food dehydrator, be sure to take into account the following important factors:

  • Trays
  • Capacity
  • Power
  • Timer
  • Motor
  • Price

Trays

The number of trays in a food dehydrator indicates generally how much food you can dehydrate at the same time. If you plan to use your dehydrator frequently and want to preserve a lot of food, we’d suggest looking for an appliance with the capacity for at least eight trays. And don’t forget to look for models with thick grids that allow you to dehydrate seeds.

Capacity

This is related to the previous point. Your trays should be at least three inches deep. If they’re less than that, it could pose an issue when you’re dehydrating foods like tomatoes. Some models will also indicate how much weight you can dehydrate at one time.

Dried apple in table

Dehydration will help you limit waste from food.
(Source: Lenetstan: 50656893/ 123rf.com)

Power

Power is very important to achieving the results you seek in a short amount of time, so be sure to check power levels. Higher power will allow you to dehydrate in less time.

Timer

Although it doesn’t appear on all models, a timer can be very useful. It allows you to have greater control over dehydration times, and helps you avoid making careless mistakes that might ruin the food.

Motor

The very best food dehydrators usually have the motor and ventilation system located at the bottom. Be sure your dehydrator has various air outlets through the trays, and ideally one at the top. This contributes to the removal of humidity and offers better dehydration.

Price

The price of dehydrators can vary widely depending on the different features we’ve mentioned. Be sure to study the features offered by each model, and keep in mind your intended use, since that will impact which model is best for you. Some dehydrators are better for frequent use, while others are suited for those who plan to use it more sparingly. Always look for the best value for your money.

Summary

A food dehydrator will help you limit your food waste and allow you to enjoy homemade fruits regardless of the season. It lets you store various ingredients that can become part of many tasty recipes. Make preparing healthy snacks a habit, and you’ll know that whatever is on your plate or in your lunch box is the best stuff around.

Dehydration has been around for centuries, but this modern appliance will allow you to dehydrate foods in the most effective way, preserving all the nutritious properties of your meals.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about dehydration and the benefits of having your very own dehydrator. Please share this article via social media so that your friends and family can benefit as well!

(Source of featured image: Jirkaejc: 89307577/ 123rf.com)

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