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How to Use a Dehydrator: Tips and Tricks for Beginners

People have been using the sun to dehydrate food forever. In fact, it is the oldest known method of food preservation. However, it wasn’t until 1795 that the French developed hot-air dehydration

Even with other modern-day food preservation techniques, dehydrated food on a mass scale is still widely popular. Hikers and backpackers enjoy the convenience of being able to carry food without extra water weight. Plus, many people simply enjoy dehydrated foods for their taste. 

If you love dehydrated food, you don’t have to buy it at the store. It’s simple to learn how to use a dehydrator at home. Check out these tips and tricks for beginners to get started!

Temperature Settings

Different temperatures are more accurate for drying different types of foods. For example, herbs should be dried at about 95 degrees F while a higher temperature of 155 degrees works better for meats and fish. A more middle range temperature of 135 degrees is best when dehydrating many fruits. Be sure to choose the best temperature for the type of food you’re dehydrating.

Don’t raise the temperature thinking that you can reduce the drying time. This can lead to the outside drying faster, making you think the food is ready. The inside of the food, however, is still moist — potentially leading to spoilage. 

Test the Food 

To help avoid this problem, watch for signs that the inside is not done. The best (and most delicious) way to check is to simply take a bite of a piece of your dried food.

Otherwise, check the items with your fingers. Soft, spongy feeling foods need more time. A breakable, chip-like consistency, depending on the food you’re drying, is good, although some foods won’t ever get that crisp so use good judgment.

Use the Time as a Guideline

Humidity in the air will vary the drying time for foods. Higher humidity in the air will make it more difficult to remove the moisture, causing a longer drying time. 

For best results, place your dehydrator in a warm, dry location. Always test the food before removing as we described in the previous section to check for doneness. 

Same Size and Thickness

Cut the foods to roughly the same size and thickness. This helps them to dry evenly. Thicker or larger pieces will take longer to dry. 

Spritz with Lemon Juice

Many fruits like apples or pears will turn brown because of exposure to air. They haven’t gone bad, but they certainly don’t look as pretty.

Spritz these types of fruits with a little lemon juice or soak them in a 1/2 lemon juice 1/2 water solution for a few minutes before putting them in the dehydrator. The acidity in the lemon juice will help keep the fruit from turning brown. 

Learning How to Use a Dehydrator Is Simple!

Dehydrated fruits and meats make a delightful snack. And as with most things, it tastes better homemade! 

Luckily, learning how to use a dehydrator is simple. As long as you can slice foods and punch a button you’re good to go!

Wondering what is the best dehydrator for you? Check out these reviews to find the best dehydrator for your needs.

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