The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), has concluded that a third of all food is spoiled or discarded before it’s consumed. This happens most in the industrialized world and in developing countries, including Canadian households. A food dehydrator can help avoid this waste.
With this device food is preserved much longer while still retaining all its nutritious properties. The only thing that is removed is the water. You can use it with fruits and vegetables as well as meat and fish. In this guide you will learn everything you need to know about dehydrators and the best models on the market.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best food dehydrators on the market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about food dehydrators
- 3.1 What are food dehydrators and what are they for?
- 3.2 Does a food dehydrator enable the best form of preservation?
- 3.3 Why not just dry food in the sun?
- 3.4 What are the benefits of having a food dehydrator?
- 3.5 What recipes can you prepare with a food dehydrator?
- 3.6 What foods can you dehydrate?
- 3.7 What are the advantages and disadvantages of a food dehydrator?
- 4 Purchase Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Dehydrating food is something that has always been done. It’s a way to have fruits from any season always available, and to make good use of ingredients that would otherwise be wasted.
- Dehydrated food can be used as snacks – these are ideal for in-between meals. These foods can also to added to recipes in the form of herbs and spices. Incorporating whole foods to your diet is much easier with a food dehydrator.
- To dehydrate food you must remove all of its water, after this is done, all that remains are its most important properties. A side benefit of the dehydration process is that foods are left with concentrated and thus more intense flavour. Keep in mind that you could save food that you would have otherwise discarded – for up to a year thanks to dehydration.
Ranking: The best food dehydrators on the market
In the following sections you will learn about the 7 best food dehydrators on the Canadian market. You’ll discover its basic features and some interesting extras that exist. Take note of all of their characteristics and use them to make the best purchase for you. Evaluate what each product has to offer you and its price. Next: the decision is yours.
No. 1: Hamilton-Beach, 32100C food dehydrator
This food dehydrator has 500 W of power. It has an adjustable digital thermostat that lets you adjust drying temperature (30-60° C). It has five stackable drying trays, one fine-mesh sheet for drying small food like herbs and one solid sheet for making fruit rolls.
The appliance has a horizontal drying system that provides continuous airflow for even drying which eliminates the need rotate trays. Buyers give this product a great review for its quality and price. Overall best seller dehydrator on Amazon.
No. 2: Salton, DH1454 collapsible dehydrator
This product includes 5 stacking trays and it expands 30% for thicker items and a vented lid. This product is of high performance and has a faster drying time (4-8 hours) than other units without temperature control. This product also includes 1 fruit roll up tray and 1 herb tray. Trays are transparent, which allows you to monitor the food and adjust temperature accordingly.
It is a BPA free product and it comes with an instruction manual and recipe book with great ideas. Users caution that trays must be handled with care, otherwise their endurance will suffer. Nonetheless, reviewers really favour the collapsible feature since it helps with limited storage space and with overall organization in the kitchen.
No. 3: Nesco, 1040 Gardenmaster food dehydrator
This 1,000-watt food dehydrator by Nesco has a top mounted fan that eliminates liquids dripping into the heating chamber. It has a digital timer that is programmable for up to 48 hours. It has the capability to expand to up to 20 trays for when you need to dry large quantities of food. Its functions with a converge-flow heating system allows for a fast, even and nutritious drying. With this technic, flavours don’t mix and there is no need to rotate trays.
The unit’s adjustable thermostat ranges from 30 degrees to 60 degrees Celsius, providing the flexibility needed to ensure specific results. This unit includes 4 trays, fruit roll up sheet and an herb screen. Some reviewers have reported having difficulty cleaning trays, while others, who don’t use it to dehydrate juicy things, report having no issue at all.
No. 4: Excalibur, 2400 electric food dehydrator
This Excalibur appliance also includes an adjustable thermostat that ranges from 30 degrees to 60 degrees Celsius. Its specs include a 4-inch fan, 220 watts, 6-1/2″H x 13″W x 16-1/4″D. It also has a limited 5-year warranty.
Buyers say it has a great size and a great price. This “mini dehydrator” is reported to be sturdy and easy to clean; “fantastic product – very efficient, stores nicely and also very easy to clean.”
Nesco, Snackmaster Pro 75A food dehydrator
The Snackmaster Pro is one of the newest dehydrators in the Nesco product line. It features a top mounted fan, 700 watts of drying power, and generates maximum speed and quality for dehydrating fruits, vegetables, beef jerky, and venison jerky. It comes with 5 drying trays, 2 herb trays and 2 fruit roll up trays. It also comes with 3 original jerky spice packets and a 52-page recipe and instruction book.
The manufacturer recommends making sure not to load trays too heavily as this will prolong drying time. Remember that drying times may also vary greatly from one area to another, depending on the climatic conditions and liquid composition of the food. It is suggested to keep records to help you predict drying times for specific foods.
Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about food dehydrators
In the following lines we will enable you discover the main functions of a food dehydrator. You will also learn all the things to consider before making your purchase. We will even give you some great examples of the types of recipes you can prepare with this appliance.
What are food dehydrators and what are they for?
A food dehydrator, as its name implies, is a device used to dry out different types of foods. These appliances have gained popularity in Canadian kitchens as they allow us to have variety in the way we prepare our food. The “dehydration” process is ideal for preserving fruits, meats and other products.
Thanks to new technologies, preserving food is now easier than ever.
Does a food dehydrator enable the best form of preservation?
For many people dehydration is the best way to preserve food. In the following lines we will introduce you to the other methods too, so that you can confirm this statement yourself. Please note that all methods are valid, but some can’t always be used frequently or maintain the original properties of the food.
- Freezing. When a food is frozen the temperature change affect its nutrients. Its molecular structure is permanently altered – it is for this reason that when thawed the taste and texture are always different. The conservation time in this method is also shorter, maxing out at six months.
- Preserves. Canned foods are previously subjected to very high temperatures. This is done to prevent the appearance of bacteria and spores. In this case, the nutrients are also modified at a molecular level. This type of food consumption should not be abused, as the plasticizers in the cans are somewhat toxic.
- Smoked. After combustion, smoke is used to remove microbes from the food. It is a good technique for preserving fish, meat or sausages, for example. But it is also not good to consume these foods excessively, as some elements found in the smoke can be harmful to our health.
- Salting. When a food is placed in salt it is acidified, which can alter its taste and properties.
Why not just dry food in the sun?
After learning about the benefits of dehydration, there are those who may think that it would be a good option to just dry food in the sun. After all, it is a natural resource and has no cost. However, in this day and age it is not the best idea for different reasons that you should keep in mind. In the following table we show you what they are and their explanation.
|Climate||No one can guarantee that climate will be consistently adequate|
|Hygiene||You expose food to dirt|
|Insects||Can be in contact with the food|
|Drying control||You cannot control the rate of drying|
What are the benefits of having a food dehydrator?
Surely by now you may have already noticed there are many advantages of having a food dehydrator. Here are a few more reasons to have this appliance in your home. Once you go through them you’ll realize a dehydrator is just the appliance you were looking for to help preserve your food.
- Conditions are maintained. This appliance controls the dehydration process from start to finish. It allows you to choose both time and temperature, and that both remain stable.
- Properties. When foods are dehydrated at a temperature of about 40 degrees, all thermolabile properties remain unchanged. In other words, enzymes and vitamins are not affected by this heat. Of course, the rest of the nutrients are also preserved – Only the amount of water varies.
- Consumption. A dehydrator has a very moderate electricity consumption. Also, you should keep in mind that you will avoid throwing food away and you will not have to buy it dry if you need it. Not having to pay retail cost on these foods will more than compensate for the expense of using this appliance to do it yourself.
- Contamination. When you dehydrate food at home, you can control that it does not come into contact with other foods. This way you will avoid allergy problems.
- Different Textures. Dehydration is not only about preserving food, it is also about creating healthy snacks or ingredients for different recipes. Just program the right time to get the texture you’re looking for.
- Versatility. Allows you to create different recipes. You can use cookie cutters to cut the fruit and create very original snacks. Another option is to spray different ingredients to prepare salts or flavouring sugars.
- Healthy food. It is true that they sell dehydrated food in the market, but it is clear that they are not as healthy as homemade. They have preservatives, flours or dyes to make them look more attractive. With your dehydrator you know everything will be natural.
What recipes can you prepare with a food dehydrator?
There are many recipes you can make with your food dehydrator. With the help of these products, we can make everything from banana chips to beef jerky. Here are three recipes you can prepare with your food dehydrator.
Peach and Coconut Rolls
You need 4 fresh peaches and grated coconut. All you have to do is beat the peaches with a mixer until you get a homogeneous cream. Next, place baking paper on a tray of the dehydrator and spread the peach cream on top. Sprinkle with grated coconut.
All you have to fo is set the dehydrator at 55 degrees for about seven hours. The weather plays a role, so stay tuned. Let it cool down and cut the dough into strips. All you have to do is form rolls et voila.
All you need are four bananas and four lemons. First, squeeze the lemons. Second, cut the bananas into 1 cm pieces and soak for 15 minutes in the lemon juice. Last, place all the banana pieces in the dehydrator trays and program at 65 degrees for two hours. Then lower the temperature to 50 degrees for another six hours. After a while the texture should be crunchy. You can use this recipe to prepare chips with other types of fruit as well.
For this recipe you will need a kilo of meat cut into 5 millimetre pieces. For the marinade: mix 100 ml of soy sauce and 100 ml of Worcestershire sauce, some honey, pepper and garlic to taste in a bowl. Introduce the pieces of meat into this maceration and let it marinate for twelve hours.
Next, place the meat in the dehydrator and sprinkle over the marinade. Program to 45 degrees for six hours. When the time has passed, you can eat the meat or store it in a closed glass jar.
What foods can you dehydrate?
The list of foods you can dehydrate would be endless. That is precisely one of the advantages of this appliance, its great versatility. But for you to start using it, we’re going to show you a few foods that you can dry with this device. I’m sure you’ll be expanding this list in no time.
|Fruit||Apples, bananas, strawberries, peaches, apricots, kiwis, blueberries, among others|
|Vegetable||Carrots, onions, mushrooms, leeks, peppers, cabbage, among others|
|Meats||Beef, pork, chicken, lamb or rabbit|
|Fish||Salmon, trout, cod or hake|
|Seeds||Pumpkin, sunflower or sesame|
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a food dehydrator?
Food dehydrators have many benefits, but they also have certain disadvantages. Mainly, the dehydration process is time consuming and can be a bit tedious for beginners in the kitchen. These are the main advantages and disadvantages of food dehydrators:
Here are some criteria to consider when buying your food dehydrator:
The number of trays that comes with the food dehydrator tells you how much food you can dehydrate at one time. If you are going to use it frequently and to preserve a lot of food, you should be considering having at least 10 trays. Don’t forget that if it has a grid, it must be very thick so that you can dehydrate seeds.
Continuing along the same lines of the previous point, make sure that the depth of the trays is at least 8 centimetres. This is important, because otherwise you won’t be able to dehydrate foods like tomatoes cut in half. Some models show you how much food in weight you can dehydrate at one time.
You must take into account the power capacity of the chosen appliance, as it is key to achieving the right results. A high power appliance will allow you to make certain preparations and also do so in a shorter amount of time.
It’s a good thing it has a timer. It will allow you to better control dehydration times. Also when the process begins or ends, this feature will prevent you from making certain mistakes that can ruin the food.
Try to make sure that the dehydrator has the motor and ventilation systems set up on the bottom. It should have different air outlets through the trays, ideally one at the top as well. It will serve to let out the humidity and to obtain better dehydration.
The price of dehydrators can vary quite a bit. It is important that you study the features offered by each model. Don’t forget to consider the kind of use you want to give it. Will you be using it very often or only on specific ocasiones? If you’re planning on practicing the latter way, then the investment will seem higher. Always look for the best value for money.
A dehydrator will help you waste less food. You will be able to enjoy seasonal fruit at any time, and it will allow you to store different ingredients that will form part of rich recipes. The simplicity of most appliances become motivation to think outside the box when preparing healthy snacks.
Don’t forget that dehydration is a system that has been used to preserve food since the beginning of time. But with this type of appliance you will be able to do it in a more efficient way, conserving all its properties right from home. This way, you will always know exactly what food you’re consuming and its nutritional integrity.
Now that you know the advantages of food dehydrator, share this information on social networks so your friends and family can benefit from this knowledge too.
(Featured image source: Jirkaejc: 89307577/123rf.com)