One of the many innovations that have proven to be very useful when it comes to preserving food is the technology of food dehydrators. This helpful tool has been recognized by experts as one of the healthiest methods to preserve food.
Because the preservation method is quite unique, it comes as a given that users can also have that much needed twist for their eats. This is why the device has gained popularity over the years.
Aside from the unique preservation, there are also quite a number of benefits that come with using this machine. First, you can avoid the toxins and chemicals that come with commercially sold food. These are often associated with diseases and a lot of people have commented on their overall impact to one’s health. But a food dehydrator is a technology that bypasses these concerns because of its healthy method for food preservation. You can easily make your own organic dried fruits and vegetables without spending too much time or money.
What is a Food Dehydrator?
Choosing a food dehydrator : Tips Before You Buy
If you’re considering drying specialty items, investigate which models can accommodate your needs. Stick-proof fruitleather sheets, tray screens, jerky spices or kits, and very good handbooks, including recipe books, are sold by most dehydrator dealers.
Dehydrating isn’t a fast process, so a larger-capacity machine can save you time if you have a lot of food to dry — though they also take up more space. Smaller units, on the other hand, work well for little batches and small kitchens.
When dehydrating a batch of food, you want to make sure your machine dries it all evenly. To ensure this consistency, look for a model with more trays so you can space out your food as much as possible.
Because meat is more prone to spoiling than vegetables, not all food dehydrators are capable of drying it safely. If jerky-making is high on your list of priorities, it’s wise to make sure the machine you buy is up to the task.
Stackable Dehydrator Units
Home-food dehydrators fall into two categories: those with stackable trays, and those constructed of a rigid box with removable shelves. Size is a factor; most fit on a countertop, but larger models are free-standing and require more space. Some models have base-mounted fans that move hot air vertically; one has a rear-mounted fan for moving air horizontally; yet another uses convection drying, with no fan at all.
L’Equip’s Model 528, which has rectangular trays, and Nesco/American Harvest’s models, with round trays, are plastic stackable units with base-mounted fans. The L’Equip has six trays, expandable to a stack of 20; two of the Nesco/American Harvest models have four trays, expandable to 12. Nesco’s Gardenmaster, which is designed for less bulky harvests such as herbs or dried flowers, can accommodate up to 30 trays.
While these models may stack up to 30 inches tall, they have a small footprint and consume little counter space. They also provide the least expensive way to get started with food dehydrating, but they all share one big limitation: Uneven heat distribution in the stack means that the trays closest to the heat element and fan dry much faster than those at the top of the stack. Diligent tray rotation is critical, especially if very fleshy foods are being dried. And while perfectly suitable for drying fruits, vegetables, fruit leathers, herbs and jerky, these machines cannot readily be adapted for any of the other uses the box-and-shelf models can claim.
Box-and-Shelf Dehydrator Units
We tested two rigid box designs with removable shelves that can be adapted for other warming or drying uses in addition to food dehydration: Excalibur’s nine-tray large Garden model, with 15 square feet of drying space, and Living Foods’ Jumbo model, with nine trays and 31 square feet of space.
Excalibur’s dehydrator designs position the heat source and fan at the back of the shelves instead of beneath them. Hot air blowing across the shelves eliminates the bothersome need for tray rotation. And the Large Garden model is big enough, with some shelves removed, to allow other uses, such as leavening bread, culturing yogurt or drying bulky items.
Instead of using a fan, Living Foods’ dehydrators rely on convection drying. Heat, generated by a heating element mounted at the base of the box, rises through the trays. Living Foods’ founder Jen MacManiman says a benefit of convection drying is that it eliminates the possibility of contaminating foods with dirt that fans can suck into a dehydrator. However, placing the fan-powered dehydrator in a clean space remedies that potential problem.
Despite their slower drying time in humid conditions, Living Foods’ dehydrators may be the most versatile on the market. Besides making yogurt and leavening bread, these dehydrators also can soften honey or butter, re-crisp crackers or popcorn, sprout seeds or hatch chicks. The company claims its machines have been used to dry not only fruits, vegetables and meats, but also flowers, paper mache crafts, fine lingerie, rain-soaked boots and gloves, pasta, freshly glued items, children’s artwork, tie-dyed clothing and water-damaged books or papers.
Convection heating allows silent operation and less use of electricity but it also takes twice as long to dry bulky, moisture-laden foods like tomatoes and peaches. The longer the drying time (especially during periods of high humidity), the more the dried product’s flavor and keeping quality are reduced.
As long as I avoided overloading the Living Foods’ Jumbo with wet items during extremely humid conditions, I successfully produced an abundance of dried food. And the quiet, fan-free operation was an added bonus.
The Benifits Of Using a food dehydrator
Nutritious and Healthy for You
A food dehydrator benefits you by retaining the original vitamins, minerals, and natural enzymes of foods far better than other forms of food preservation or cooking. In fact, a study in Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2005 showed dried fruits like dried cranberries, grapes, and plums had twice the amount of antioxidants as their fresh versions!
And besides the health benefits of food dehydration, did I mention there are TONS of delicious options to choose from? Examples of foods you can make in a dehydrator include:
- Dried fruit snacks or chips from apples, bananas, oranges, pears, prunes, or lemons
- Veggie chips from zucchini, kale, carrots, green beans, or sweet potatoes (here’s a great guide for dehydrating vegetables)
- Jerky from beef, salmon, chicken, or lamb
- Fruit leathers made from pureed dried fruits (basically like the fruit version of beef jerky)
- Sun-dried (dehydrated) tomatoes
- Granola and crispy nuts and seeds
- Raw crackers or breads
- Full meals that can be rehydrated later
- Dried herbs and flowers
- And so much more!
Go ahead and explore with these easy and healthy dehydrator recipes.
Best Overall: Excalibur Food Dehydrator on Amazon
“Perfect for average-sized batches of dried foods.”
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator on Amazon
“Has a 26-hour timer so you can leave food drying while you work or sleep.”
Best Budget: Presto Dehydro Food Dehydrator at Amazon
“The perfect starter unit and ideal for small batches.”
Best High-End: Tribest Sedona Express Dehydrator at Amazon
“Can automatically switch from an initial high temperature to a lower one.”
Runner Up, Best Budget: NutriChef Food Dehydrator at Amazon
“Temperature is adjustable up to 180 degrees, so you can dry a variety of foods.”
Best Expandable: Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator at Amazon
“Even drying no matter how much food you have.”
Best Rectangular: Cabela’s IK-541649
“Continuous airflow provides even drying, eliminating the need to constantly rotate.”
The 10 Best Food Dehydrators Guide 2023
Below you will find the best sellers, different types, and high-end dehydrators as well as dehydrators for all choices.
If you are looking for the top food dehydators, this guide can be a great starting point. We understand that this can be a major investment, so we have done extensive research to help you out.
Let’s quickly review the top ten food dehydrators by some of the very best brands.
Here Are the Top Food Dehydrators On the Market for 2023
Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
A bit smaller than our top pick, this model is perfect for average-sized batches of dried foods. It comes with five trays, but can handle up to 12 if you want to work in larger batches. The thermostat on this dehydrator is adjustable from 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and it has a top mounted fan that’s designed to send the air downward and then horizontally across the food trays for more even drying.
Along with the dehydrator, it also includes two solid liner sheets for making fruit rollups or drying sauces or other liquid-like substances, two mesh sheets for other foods, and three packages of jerky spice to get you started making your own jerky. The exterior is speckled gray.
The only drawback is that this dehydrator doesn’t have a timer, so you’ll have to be nearby to turn it off when the food is ready.
Excalibur Food Dehydrator
This dehydrator provides a lot of drying space—with nine trays totaling 15 square feet to be exact. Each tray is fitted with a nonstick screen, which is suitable for most drying. But there are also several types of dehydrator sheets available for the trays, which are ideal for making fruit leather or drying other thick liquids like sauces.
The thermostat is adjustable from 105 to165 degrees Fahrenheit and it has a 26-hour timer so you can leave food drying while you work or sleep. A fan at the back of the unit circulates air evenly throughout.
If you have taller foods you want to dry, you can remove some of the trays to make more room. This unit can also be used to proof dough when baking or to warm rolls or bread before serving. With almost all the trays removed, you can even use this model to cultivate homemade yogurt. If color matters, it’s available in either black or white. The drawback with this model is that it’s quite large, and takes a lot of space to store.
Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
The perfect starter unit and ideal for small batches, this dehydrator comes with four trays but you can add an additional four trays to double your drying space. The fan is at the bottom of the unit which means it’s possible for food juices to drip down onto it. So keep that in mind when you’re dehydrating fresh produce.
Fruit roll sheets and mesh sheets are available to fit this dehydrator. The temperature isn’t adjustable; it operates consistently at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The trays nest for more compact storage and the cord stores out of the way in the base. The dehydrator has a white exterior with a clear top cover so you can watch the drying process. Sadly, there is no timer, so you’ll have to be nearby to turn it off when the food is done. But that’s the ideal time to taste test as well.
Tribest Sedona Express Digital Food Dehydrator
If you have a large garden and want to take your food dehydrating to a professional level, this machine is the one you need. The temperature is adjustable from 77 to 167 degrees Fahrenheit, and that high temperature means you can cook jerky from start-to-finish in this machine without needing to pre-cook it for safety. Plus, it can automatically switch from an initial high temperature to a lower one for quicker drying without overcooking.
This unit has 11 stainless steel trays, a glass door, and an interior LED light so it’s easier to check the drying process. There are several cooking modes (fast, raw, combination, and continuous) and the timer can be set for up to 99 hours per mode or up to 120 hours total— more than you’ll ever need. The exterior is black and the fan is at the back of the unit, with a filter to keep out dust. The unit is not expandable. This top-of-the-line dehydrator can do it all, and its price tag shows it. If you want to save a bit of money, you can opt for plastic trays instead of stainless steel, but the stainless steel ones will last longer. You’ll need to dry a lot of kale chips to recoup the cost, but since it comes with a 10-year warranty, chances are that you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
NutriChef Food Dehydrator
If food dehydrating is something you’ll do occasionally, rather than the way you’ll feed yourself over a long, harsh, winter, you’re probably looking for a budget-friendly dryer like this one. It does what you need, but without breaking the bank with extra features.
This operates with just one button that turns it on to start the dehydrating process. The temperature is adjustable up to 180 degrees, so you can dry a variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It includes five removable and stackable trays that are easy to clean.
The manufacturer states that this can be used to make jerky, but food safety sites have warnings about using simple dehydrators for meats, so read the information carefully before proceeding.This dehydrator is available in either black or white.
Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
This dehydrator comes with only four trays, but you can buy extra trays and use up to 20 at a time giving you plenty of drying space. The drying pressure adjusts for the number of trays being used, for more even drying no matter how much food you have. The temperature control is digital and adjusts from 90 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
This unit has a top-mounted fan, and the timer can be set for up to 48 hours of drying time. This model has a white exterior, and it comes with one screen and one fruit roll sheet. If you want to start with more drying space, this model is also available at a higher price with six trays instead of four, as well as three fruit roll sheets, three screens, six packets of jerky spice, and a jerky gun.
L’Equip 528 Food Dehydrator
The L’Equip has six trays, expandable to a stack of 20;
Since you get 7.2 square feet of drying space with the six included trays, the L’Equip 528 is an ideal dehydrator for preserving large quantities of food at once. L’Equip’s 528 Dehydrator helps preserve the nutrients that stay in your dried fruits, vegetables and meats with its light-blocking plastic walls, and it offers expandable trays and detailed temperature control. You get more drying space in this dehydrator than many others name-brand dehydrators, although you’ll need to work with it to get optimal drying times.
Open Country 51542 Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
No need to rotate trays with this food dehydrator. The Open Country 51542 Gardenmaster Dehydrator provides you with a fast and powerful way to dehydrate food. This helpful kitchen appliance comes with four large drying trays. You can expand that up to an impressive 30 trays, but that will ratchet up the total price. If you opt for all the additional trays, you get about 30 square feet of drying space, which means you can preserve substantial quantities of food.
It is a potent machine whose powerful fan helps make short work of drying foods, and you can expand it up to 30 trays to dry large quantities.
A food dehydrator is a small appliance thats used to dehydrate different foods such as meats and fruits. They are very useful in climates where its very very humid and where mold frequently occur on food if your not carefull.
Gourmia GFD1950 Premium Countertop Food Dehydrator
Cabela’s 80-Liter Commercial Food dehydrator is great for anyone who hunts, fishes or gardens and needs to preserve a lot of food.
This unit’s sophisticated technology monitors air intake and the temperature inside the dehydrator. This model has 12 drying racks so you have the space you need to dry large quantities of food.
The steel racks of the Cabela’s Commercial Food Dehydrator have a black non-stick coating that is non-toxic and food safe, so you don’t have to worry about your food getting contaminated.
This 80-liter model has a forceful 4,000-watt heater and features its Penta 360-Degree Air Flo process that is designed with five air tubes to ensure even air circulation throughout the interior of the machine. The trademarked SmartHeat function monitors the intake of air and the temperature inside the dehydrator and adjusts the fan speed.
Weston 75-0201-W Food Dehydrator
Weston has created a food dehydrator that is easy to use and clean, and it produces nicely dried foods that can be stored for extended periods of time. This food dehydrator comes with 10 removable trays, which is unusual for a dehydrator since most come with just a few, often with the option to purchase extras. With the Weston Fruit and Veggie Dehydrator 75-0201-W, you get more than 10 square feet of total drying space, which should work well for even the most avid hunting, fishing and gardening enthusiasts.
You don’t need to rotate trays, which is a great time-saver and frees you to do other things while the device preserves your food.
This food dehydrator comes with 10 trays, so you can dry plenty of food without having to buy additional trays.
If you are an ardent gardener or hunter, you can get excellent help preserving a lot of food with the from the Weston Fruit and Veggie Dehydrator 75-0201-W, and the sound of the fan won’t drive you crazy since it’s so quiet.