A food dehydrator is a kitchen equipment that removes or reduces the moisture of food, particularly fruits, vegetables, and meat. Food dehydration is done to preserve food without having to use chemicals. There are a lot of benefits to doing food dehydration, so a lot of people are getting one for their home. Before deciding to purchase, it is important to know what feature should you look for in a food dehydrator.
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Every home is different. Some families are big, while some are small. Most homes have a small kitchen, while others have huge. Every person’s and family’s budget for home appliance also differs. Each and every home also has different food preferences and eating habits. These are some of the things to consider when deciding what kind of food dehydrator to buy.
Basically, there are two types of commercially-sold food dehydrators. The first one is the stackable type, and the other one is the shelf type. However, not all food dehydrators are the same even when both, for instance, are stackable. Each type, brand, and model differs in one or more of the following─type, temperature, heat distribution, ease of use, size, noise, and additional features.
It used to be that food dehydration is done by using sunlight. However, since weather and temperature change often, industrial food dehydrators were invented. Eventually, the same concept was applied to smaller versions of food dehydrators made especially for the home.
As aforementioned, there are two basic types of a food dehydrator. The stackable type is usually round and smaller than shelf type food dehydrators. Its heating element is usually at the top or the bottom of the stack. It is also expandable as some models allow trays to be added depending on the need of the user.
On the other hand, shelf type food dehydrators are more costly than stackables. They are also bigger but are not expandable as they have fixed number of trays and rails. The heating element of this type is at the back.
In terms of temperature, shelf type food dehydrators can provide higher temperatures. Food is usually dehydrated between 95 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit. However, drying meat requires a higher temperature to ensure that they are properly dehydrated. If meat is not dehydrated well, for instance, the interior is still moist though the exterior has dried, the moist part can still rot and be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Depending on the food the family plans to dehydrate, they should choose a food dehydrator that is able to provide the amount of heat required.
It is not enough that a food dehydrator emits ample amount of heat. It is equally important to consider how it distributes the heat inside the dehydrator. Stackable type dehydrators have heat coming from either the top or bottom. This means that only the topmost or bottommost trays get most of the heat. It does not distribute heat evenly, so it is very important to rotate the trays every once in a while.
On the other hand, shelf type food dehydrators have the heating element at the back, so heat is distributed evenly among the food on all trays. This allows for more even dehydration and does not require the user to rotate the trays.
Ease of Use
Speaking of rotating the tray, depending on the type, brand, and model of food dehydrators, there are some that need low maintenance, while some need regular attention. Since shelf type food dehydrators do not need rotating the trays, it can be said that it is easier to use if dehydrating the same kind of food at one time.
However, it is not expandable. For some people, being able to add more trays to the stack is very important. Others would also prefer shuffling the trays as they are interested in watching the progress of the dehydration.
Ease of use should also include ease of cleaning and maintenance. There are people who are fine with models that require washing by hand, while others would prefer dishwasher safe trays and screens.
People who have fruit and vegetable garden would definitely prefer bigger food dehydrators for the home. This will allow them to dry more food at one time. For some people who plan on using food dehydrator only occasionally, they may opt to get the smaller ones. Stackable type is smaller than shelf type.
Since stackables are also usually round, it is easier to find a spot for them in the kitchen than the shelf type that is normally as big as an oven.
All food dehydrators have a fan for ventilation. Buyers should expect it to emit some amount of noise. However, there are quieter fans relative to other models’ fans. Finding out the noise that each model produces is quite a challenge since this is not normally indicated in the specs. This means that the buyer should do a bit of research about it and read product reviews.
Not all food dehydrators have a thermostat. For someone who wants to dry different sorts of food, it is important that this feature is considered.
It would also be great if the food dehydrator has a timer. This makes the process easier since the user would not need to manually take note of when to check the food and when to turn off the dehydrator when the food is ready. This feature is very useful for people who spend most of the time out of the house or those who forget easily.
In addition to the timer, it is also nice to have a food dehydrator with the auto shut-off feature.
What Feature Should You Look for in a Food Dehydrator: Summary
Depending on the needs and preferences of the user, the following should be considered when deciding which food dehydrator to buy for the home: type, temperature, heat distribution, ease of use, size, and noise.
The answer to the question “what feature should you look for in a food dehydrator?” also depends on the number of people at home, the family’s lifestyle, their eating habits, whether or not they have a fruit or vegetable garden and their allocated budget for a kitchen appliance.
Overall, no two users are the same, so it is very important to examine all factors before deciding on which type, brand, and model of food dehydrator to buy.