A food dehydrator is used to dry a wide range of fruits and vegetables. These convenient kitchen appliances are becoming very popular. This is because they are easy to use, cheap to run and offer a healthy alternative to shop-bought goods.
How Does a Food Dehydrator Work?
Dehydration extracts moisture from food to preserve it. As the moisture has been removed, bacterial growth is reduced which stops the food spoiling. However, dehydration makes food items lose its size, shape and weight. The good thing about this process, is that it doesn’t reduce its nutritious content.
A food dehydrator creates the perfect environment for drying food. They work by using a ventilation system that exchanges moist air for dry air.
There are two different types of food dehydrator.
The box-style dehydrators, such as the Excalibur dehydrator , have a number of square trays to put the food on and a heater and fan in the rear. Warm air is blown across each tray drying the food evenly. You can also remove trays so you can dry taller items.
A stackable food dehydrator has the heater and fan at the top or bottom. With this type, air is forced up through the trays, or down the sides and across, depending on the model. The advantage to using these is you can resize the unit to fit your needs each time.
What are the Benefits of Using a Food Dehydrator?
- Using a food dehydrator to remove moisture from fruits, vegetables and meats, creates naturally concentrated, rich and delicious tasting food. The benefit of making the food yourself, you know exactly what you are eating, as opposed to who bought dried food.
- Putting leftover fruits and vegetables in your food dehydrator will extend their shelf life for up to 2 years
- The food produced by a food dehydrator is totally natural and you benefit from all the minerals and fibre of the whole fruit.
- Organic dehydrated foods are usually over priced. If you buy a lot of dehydrated food, costs can add up. Using your own food dehydrator will save money in the long term. Additionally, if you buy fresh food items in bulk when in season, you can make further savings.
- Food from a food dehydrator takes up a lot less space than regular food. Just store it containers or jars, plastic freezer containers with lids, freezer bags or vacuum bags. If you store them in single portions, you can use them as convenient snacks.
- Dehydrated food is compact and travels well. This makes it ideal for taking to work for snacks.
- Food dehydrators allow you to dry food with precision. This means you food can be dehydrated at a lower temperature, resulting in better results than if you used the oven.
- Food dehydrators are versatile and can produce lots of different dried foods.
- Food hydrators are very simple to use. Often, they have very simple controls and it is virtually impossible to over dry your food.
- As all the water is removed from the food, bacteria growth is very low. This means it is safer for longer.
What Can You Make in a Food Dehydrator?
There are many types of food you can make in a food dehydrator. The main foods are healthy snacks, but you can get a bit more creative.
- Crispy nuts and seeds – Soaking nuts and seeds overnight in salt water before drying not only makes them taste nice, it reduces phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. These prevent absorption of nutrients in to your body.
- Yoghurt – As an alternative to buying a yogurt maker that only does one task, you can use your food dehydrator to make yogurt. With a box shaped dehydrator, you can remove the trays, allowing you to make many different-sized jars.
- For making jerky in your food dehydrator, just lay strips of sliced meat, tofu, or kombucha scobys, on the trays, set the time and temperature and let it do its thing.
- Fruit leather doesn’t sound that tasty, but it is. This is tips of dried fruit that you can roll up. It is also simple to make using a food dehydrator.
- Make your own soaked or sprouted granola using your food dehydrator. This makes a great healthy breakfast, or you can use it to make granola bars for snacks.
- Spicy onion rings are dehydrated until they are crispy and crunchy. This is a much healthier than frying them. With the some spicy seasoning on them, they are really tasty.
- Vegetable crisps made in a food hydrator are great. Thinly slice potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips etc for a healthy alternative to regular crisps.
- Fruit crisps, similar to the veggie crisps, thinly slice kiwi, orange, bananas etc for a easy way to add to your 5 a day.
- Pepperoni chips are a a great way to get some protein in to your system quickly. They also test pretty good.
- Fruit twizzlers are made by making a paste out of your favourite fruit, piping it on to the tray and then dehydrating it. This is a great alternative to chocolate bars and sweets.