Using a food dehydrator to dry your food at home is a money-saving and healthy hobby. The hardest part isn’t the dehydrating, but in finding how to choose a dehydrator. One of these dryers can cost anywhere from $50 to over $300. Sometimes it’s hard to pick something when you have so many options. Here are few things to consider when shopping for one.
First, consider how much you think you’ll use your dryer. If you don’t think you’ll do a lot of dehydrating, you might be okay with a mid-level unit. Getting the cheapest model isn’t recommended for a couple reasons. One, cheap stuff won’t last. Two, you can hold off on upgrading if (when) you find out you love drying food and want to do more of it.
With the expandable dehydrators, it can grow as your appetite for dehydrating food grows. Be careful though, because the larger your unit gets, the more power it should put out. You’ll want about 100 watts per tray. Every dehydrator will beat that easily, but when you add a lot of trays, you might find it’s underpowered. That means you’ll have to rotate the trays and run it longer.
Get one with an adjustable thermostat. This will let you dry everything, from fruits to meats to potpourri. Some recipes require drying at one temperature for two hours and a lower temperature to finish. Being able to adjust the heat makes your dehydrator more useful.
Home dehydrators move air vertically or horizontally. Some models have a fan on the bottom that blow warm air up through the trays. The bottom trays will be warmer than the ones above, so you may need to rotate the trays periodically. Other models are heated from the rear and have fans that blow air across the trays instead of through them. That means less flavor mixing if you’re drying different foods. Also, all the trays are dried evenly.
You can also choose based on materials. Home dehydrators come in stainless steel or plastic. You can also find plans to build one out of wood, but that’s not recommended. Wood can catch on fire and is hard to keep clean. That leaves you with a plastic or stainless steel dehydrator. If you want to get a stainless model, you’ll have to spend a lot of money. Quality steel is expensive. You’re better off with a high-quality plastic one than a cheap low-quality steel one. If you’re worried about aesthetics, you’ll see that some, like the L’Equip, look great.
Then, you might look at shape. There are cylinders and cubes. I recommend the square food dehydrators because you get more usable drying space. The round ones have a hole in the middle, meaning you can’t lay food down all the way across the tray. And, with a square one, you can place it flush against the wall if you want to leave it on your counter.
Finally, think about getting one with a timer. Food dehydrator recipes vary widely when it comes to drying times. You might dehydrate something that won’t finish until the middle of the night. A timer will turn the machine off at the right time, letting you dry your snacks without stressing over them.
With these considerations in mind, you’ll be able to figure out how to choose a dehydrator for your home. Think of all the great snacks you’ll get to make, and all while saving a ton of money.