What Is A Food Dehydrator?

In today’s society, we are slowly becoming more conscious of the importance of eating healthy. With world obesity levels at an all time high, finding healthy alternatives to our favorite meals and snacks is a high priority.

There is now an increasing trend of people choosing to grow their own vegetables, fruits, herbs, and nuts. Those who can’t grow their own are opting to shop at organic food markets.

The problem is, fresh foods tend to spoil very quickly.

We are constantly being warned of the dangers of artificial preservatives, but what choice do you have?

Thankfully, the at-home food dehydration industry had come a long way, making it easier than ever to eat and live a healthier life.

A food dehydrator is a machine that draws out all the moisture from foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, etc.

The purpose of food dehydration is to dry out the different types of food so that they stay preserved. Drying out food also stops bacteria from growing and so, prevents spoiling.

A food dehydrator uses high temperatures combined with air flow to remove the water content from foods.

Depending on the food that you are trying to dehydrate, temperatures between 130°F and 155°F are usually applied via a heating element. This releases the moisutre from within the food out into the surrounding air.

Next, a fan will usually blow the moist air out through some strategically placed air vents (however in some machines, convection technology is used instead).

Using a food dehydrator is a safer and healthier way to store all sorts of food for long periods of time.

So how do you know which food dehydrator is right for you?

Important Considerations

There are a lot of different food dehydrator models out there, so it’s important to think about the features you will personally need. 

We review some of the most popular food dehydrators on our site, but here are some things you’ll need to consider in order to find the one that is right for you.

One of the biggest differences between food dehydrator models is the direction of air flow. Depending on the position of the heating element and fan, air will flow through the machine in different ways.

Food dehydrators with vertical air flow can be split into to different categories – those with the heating element at the top, and those at the bottom. 

Having the heating element at the bottom provides the best distribution of heat out of any type of food dehydrator. However, they can be difficult to clean as liquid drips down onto the heating element. Some people also complain about flavors from items on the bottom tray seeping into foods on higher trays.

Placing the heating element at the top eliminates the issue of dripping, but is a lot less efficient as it has to work against the flow of the hot air that is rising. Rotating trays is sometimes required with these models in order to evenly distribute heat.

Horizontal flow is often preferred because there is no mixing of flavors and there is a relatively even heat distribution. However, the drying process takes longer when compared to vertical flow dehydrators with the heating element at the bottom.

You will also need to consider the structure of you desired food dehydrator.

Stackable dehydrators can be adjusted to suit the amount of food want to preserve simply by adding/removing a level. This means that you are not wasting energy and time heating a large area when you only want one tray of food dried. 

Although you can still add/remove trays, having a dehydrator box with shelves is less energy efficient and will take longer to dry a small amount of food compared to stackable dehydrators.

Finally, you will need to think about the size of the dehydrator that will best suit your needs. There’s no point in buying a huge 14 tray dehydrator if you’ll only be preserving a few apples every once in a while. If you won’t be preserving large quantities of food, perhaps it’s better to select a smaller model.

Be realistic about the amount of food you will be preserving and select a food dehydrator that is closest to your needs.

At the end of the day, each model has its pros and cons – it’s just a matter of finding the right balance of features that work for you. 

There are a lot more features that we cover throughout this site, so be sure to check out our individual food dehydrator reviews.