Dehydrating your food not only gives you space and lets you keep your food longer; it can also double the amount of antioxidants in some fruits. You have to do it right in order to make the food safe and nutritious.
This includes using the right temperature. Your dehydrator temperature is essential, but why? Find out everything you need to know from this helpful guide.
Why Dehydrate Foods?
Dehydrating foods lets you preserve them for months. The dehydrator produces a gentle heat that slowly bakes your food. The best part is all the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes stay in your food.
Dehydrators simply remove the water. About 50 to 70 percent of most meats is water. Fruits and vegetables contain about 80 to 95 percent water.
You can keep the food longer because removing the water prevents bacteria and mold from growing. Your food gets contaminated with bacteria and mold that grows in the water.
After the dehydrators warms the food, a fan pushes the water out. Once the food’s water content decreases to 15 to 20 percent, it is dehydrated.
Dehydrating foods heats the food slowly. You don’t want to cook food with too high of temperatures because it can:
- Kill healthy enzymes
- Eliminate vitamins
- Disrupt the pH level
When a food reaches a certain temperature, enzymes die. Enzymes will die when food temperature is above 140-158 degrees in a wet condition. Enzymes are stronger when food is dry.
Dehydrator Temperature Guidelines for Certain Foods
Meats should be dehydrated around 155 degrees Fahrenheit or 68 degrees Celsius. Fruits and vegetables do not need to be dehydrated at a high temperature, so the general rule is to dehydrate them around 130 degrees Fahrenheit or 54 degrees Celsius.
Meats contain microorganisms because it was once living tissue. It’s imperative to cook meat at a higher temperature to destroy and prevent bacteria or mold growth.
You need to be careful not to turn the heat too high because the meat will be hard on the outside and the inside will have too much water. Remember, bacteria grows in water, so the meat can spoil if you don’t cook properly.
On the flip side, you have to cook the meat at a high enough temperature to kill the microorganisms. The meat may look likes it’s done, but if it’s not cooked at a high enough temperature, it could still contain bacteria.
You may need to cook poultry at a higher temperature because raw chicken has lots of bacteria. You may want to cook chicken around 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fruits and vegetables don’t need as high of temperatures. They are good around 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel, cut, and then place them in a dehydrator anywhere between 6 to 12 hours.
For fruits with higher water content, like melons, you may need to dehydrate longer. Watermelon may take 12 to 24 hours to dehydrate.
Dehydrating Temperature Chart
Drying foods is a perfect way to preserve them for long-term storage. The key to successful food preservation is to dehydrate at the correct temperature. Different foods dry best at different temperatures, so it’s important to know what temperature each type of food is dehydrated.
Here is a temperature chart that will guide you in dehydrating different types of food:
- Apples: 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Apricots: 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Bananas: 135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Berries: 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Cherries: 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Figs: 135-145 degrees Fahrenheit
- Grapes: 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Peaches: 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pears: 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pineapple: 135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Beans: 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Beets: 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit
- Carrots: 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit
- Celery: 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit
- Corn: 125 degrees Fahrenheit
- Garlic: 125 degrees Fahrenheit
- Greens: 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Onion: 125 degrees Fahrenheit
As you can see, various foods dehydrate best at different temperatures. Therefore, use this temperature chart as a guide to dehydrating different types of food. Also, each appliance differs, so make sure to read the manual that comes with your machine.
My Food Dehydrator Doesn’t Have an Adjustable Temperature Settings?
You can still dehydrate your food, but you won’t have much control over the final product. If you don’t have adjustable temperature settings on your dehydrator, you might need to keep checking on your foods. I would invest in an appliance with temperature control if you plan to dehydrate a lot.
The best machines on the market are those with controllable temperature control. I always use the Excalibur 2400 dehydrator because it dehydrates my food perfectly every time.
Why Dehydrating Meat Requires Higher Temperatures
The risk of spoiling and bacterial development is greater when dehydrating meat, poultry, or fish. Thus, drying this type of food requires temperatures of at least 165-170 °F to ensure safety.
Dehydrating meat is different from dehydrating fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables can be dried at lower temperatures.
The bacteria that cause spoilage and foodborne illness, such as salmonella and E. coli, can survive at temperatures below 160 °F.
How Does The Temperature Change In A Food Dehydrator
As the moisture in the food evaporates, moist air surrounding the dehydrator absorbs heat. As the food dries, the humidity of the air will decrease, and temperature will begin to reflect more accurately on its own.
Why Should I Test My Dehydrator Temperature?
A dehydrator temperature that is too low will not dehydrate your foods properly, which could lead to spoilage. Conversely, a too high temperature will cause your foods to lose flavor and nutrition.
Ideally, you should test the machine’s temperature with a food thermometer before dehydrating any food. That way, you can ensure that your appliance is set to the proper temperature and that your food will be dried correctly.
How to Test Dehydrator Temperature
To test the dehydrator’s temperature, insert a food thermometer into the appliance when it is empty and let it run for around 15 minutes. Check the temperature, and be careful with the thermometer probe as it will be hot.
What Thermometer to Use For Testing The Temperature
The thermometer you use to test the dehydrator’s temperature is essential. In addition, you want a good-quality product to ensure your machine is working correctly.
There are a few things to consider when choosing a good thermometer:
- ease of use
For vertical flow dehydrators, a probe thermometer is recommended. A dehydrator with a horizontal airflow will require an oven thermometer.
Want to Learn More About Dehydrated Foods?
With the right dehydrator temperature, you can enjoy food for months. Check out our site to learn more dehydrator tips like finding the right dehydrator. Find the best recipes and also get some helpful tips on backpacking.