What is a Food Dehydrator? Do you need one?

13 minutes read

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.

The Best Food Dehydrator in July 2024

COSORI Food Dehydrator for Jerky, Large Drying Space

Rating is 5 out of 5

COSORI Food Dehydrator for Jerky, Large Drying Space

  • NEW COLOR ON A POPULAR CLASSIC: Designed in California, Cosori’s latest edition of the CP267-FD features a stylish black door, and still includes helpful accessories to get you started: 6 trays, 1 fruit roll sheet, and 1 mesh screen
  • PRECISE CONTROLS: Use the digital touch-control panel to easily set a cook-time for up to 48 hours. Choose temperatures from 95–165°F / 35–73°C
  • SAFE & DURABLE MATERIALS: With a sleek exterior made of durable, food-grade stainless steel, the dehydrator is built to last. Your purchase comes with 6 dishwasher safe stainless steel trays
  • INCLUDED COMPONENTS: 1 Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator, 1 Mesh Screen, 1 Fruit Roll Sheet, 1 Recipe Book, 1 Manual (search for C267-2MS or C267-FR or C267-ST to get more accessories)
  • SAFETY FEATURES: Equipped with automatic shutoff and overheat protection, the ETL listed food dehydrator includes key safety features
  • QUIET COOKING: With noise levels less than 48dB, it won’t add unwanted noise to your kitchen, or disturb you if you’re dehydrating food overnight
  • HELPFUL SERVICE: Your purchase comes with lifetime assistance from our helpful Southern California based Customer Support Team. Search 267-2ST, 267-2FR, or 267-2MS for more accessories
Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine

Rating is 4.9 out of 5

Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine

  • POWERFUL FOOD DRYING PROCESS - Magic Mill Compact Food Dehydrator Machine streamlines 240W drying capacity that offers an efficient food drying process. It removes excess water from foods without compromising their natural juices, taste, and nutrients – boasting a 97% retention rate of vitamins and minerals.
  • MULTI-LAYER AND ADJUSTABLE TRAYS - This Fruit and Herb Dehydrator features five (5) food-grade adjustable trays that allow you to dry different foods, fruits, and veggies at once. The standard height between the trays is 0.6 inches, but you can raise each to 1.1 inches – perfect for thick-cut ingredients.
  • TOP-NOTCH DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION - Our Meat Dehydrator comes with premium stainless steel trays that passed the quality check and industry standards for food safety. The body is made from BPA-free plastic that is both durable and corrosion-resistant. The base is made from stylish stainless steel as well.
  • USER-FRIENDLY, VERY EASY TO OPERATE - This Electric Food Dehydrator is equipped with a control panel that allows you to set a timer and adjust the temperature with a simple touch of a button. You can set it between 95-158°F for up to 24:00 hours in half hour increments – depending on your food dehydration requirements.
  • EASY TO CLEAN, DETACHABLE TRAYS - To clean, simply remove the trays from the machine and wash them using soapy water or through a dishwasher. Thus, you can ensure preserved product quality that will provide you with healthy dried fruits, meats, vegetables, pet food, beef jerky, and more in the long run.
COSORI Food Dehydrator Machine for Jerky

Rating is 4.8 out of 5

COSORI Food Dehydrator Machine for Jerky

  • EXPAND to 7 TRAYS: Expand the capacity of your food dehydrator with 2 additional trays by searching for CFD-TR051-WUS accessories. The original product comes with 5 trays
  • SOLID MATERIAL: This is made of solid material, so don't worry that it will be as fragile as clear shells
  • QUIET COOKING: With a noise less than 47dB, the dehydrator is quiet to use
  • EASY TO CLEAN: The trays are dishwasher so you can clean it easily
  • PRECISE TEMPERATURE CONTROL: The one-touch digital control panel lets you set temperatures from 95°–165°F and a timer for up to 48 hours
  • SAFETY FIRST: Overheat protection automatically shuts off the dehydrator when it gets too hot. 120V, 350W
  • FREE RECIPE BOOK: Discover inspiration for every meal with the included 50-recipe cookbook crafted by our professional Cosori chefs
  • QUALITY ASSURANCE: Your purchase comes with lifetime assistance from our helpful Customer Support Team. Package contents include 1 Pioneer 5-Tray Food Dehydrator, 5 trays, 1 recipe book, and 1 manual
Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator

Rating is 4.7 out of 5

Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator

  • ADJUSTABLE TEMPERATURE from 95ºF to 158ºF that foods are dehydrated at their optimal temperature and horizontal air flow distributes heat evenly and efficiently.
  • HEALTHY SNACKS: Prepare 100% all-natural dehydrated foods and snacks with no added sugars, additives or preservatives. No more processed junk food, dry healthy fruit rolls, trail mix, granola, etc.
  • FUN AND CRAFTS: Perfect for hobbyists to dry flowers, potpourri or dough crafts and pet lovers to prepare healthy and delicious 100% natural treats for their furry companions.
  • EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION: using a base mounted fan promotes even drying and air circulation. Large viewing window allows you to monitor the drying process.
  • SAFETY TESTED: ETL Listed at 350W of power / 120V is perfect for home use. Do not use outdoors. Dishwasher safe removable parts.
  • 1 YEAR WARRANTY and U.S. based customer support team means you can buy with confidence.
  • Includes 5 x BPA Free Trays that are fully immersible and dishwasher safe.
Commercial Chef Food Dehydrator

Rating is 4.6 out of 5

Commercial Chef Food Dehydrator

  • USE WITH YOUR FAVORITE FOODS—This COMMERCIAL CHEF food dehydrator removes moisture and locks in the original, nuanced flavors of your favorite snacks. Our outstanding dehydrator for food (9.92” x 9.43” x 7.01”) is equipped with 280W of power to preserve your favorite meats, fruits, vegetables, fruits, and even herbs.
  • 5 LAYERS OF TRAYS—Considered one of the best dehydrators for food and jerky, this phenomenal kitchen appliance consists of 5 circular trays, which is enough to hold most food items and create uniform drying.
  • ADJUSTABLE THERMOSTAT RANGE—This dryer machine (3.3 lbs.) features an adjustable temperature ranging from 104° - 158° F. Determine your optimal setting and let this jerky maker do all the work for you!
  • EASY TO STORE & CLEAN—The trays in our fantastic meat dehydrator are hand wash only to allow for easy cleanup and streamlined storage. Situate this food dehydrator machine for home in your kitchen pantry or cupboard when not in use.
  • HEALTHY SNACKS—Our incredible food dehydrator helps you keep up with your New Year's resolutions by making fast, easy, and healthy snacks. This food dryer is suitable for a variety of homemade foods like mushrooms and turkey—as well as snacks like banana chips, fruit roll-ups, and beef jerky.

What are the Benefits of Using a Food Dehydrator?

  1. 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.
  2. Putting leftover fruits and vegetables in your food dehydrator will extend their shelf life for up to 2 years
  3. The food produced by a food dehydrator is totally natural and you benefit from all the minerals and fibre of the whole fruit.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Dehydrated food is compact and travels well. This makes it ideal for taking to work for snacks.
  7. 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.
  8. Food dehydrators are versatile and can produce lots of different dried foods.
  9. Food hydrators are very simple to use. Often, they have very simple controls and it is virtually impossible to over dry your food.
  10. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Vegetable crisps made in a food hydrator are great. Thinly slice potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips etc for a healthy alternative to regular crisps.
  8. Fruit crisps, similar to the veggie crisps, thinly slice kiwi, orange, bananas etc for a easy way to add to your 5 a day.
  9. Pepperoni chips are a a great way to get some protein in to your system quickly. They also test pretty good.
  10. 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.
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