What to consider when buying a food dehydrator
Without question the electric dehydrator is the best way to dehydrate food, allowing you to dry food 24 hours a day in your own kitchen. A dehydrator is an exciting new appliance to have and no doubt once you make a decision to buy one, you’ll be eager to stat experimenting with this wonderful way of preparing delicious and highly nutritious food.
Here are a couple of things to consider when you are choosing what dehydrator to buy:
Heat: The heat source should be efficient, durable and constant to minimise the dehydrating time, resulting in a better product and preventing spoilage. The heat source should preferably be located at the back or the side of the unit. The wattage of the heat source is very important, this should be adequate for the drying area or capacity of the unit – e.g. 70 watts per tray can be considered sufficient.
Temperature Control: Temperature control will ensure consistent, even results. The same rule apples as in general cooking where different foods require distinctly different temperatures. The control should be easy to read and to adjust.
Fan or Blower: Proper airflow and circulation are essential for successful drying. Ensure the fan supplies an even heat flow to every tray. The Excalibur for example features a horizontal airflow which reduces flavour mixing and allows even dehydrating without having to rotate the trays. Ensure the fan is designed to be quiet in operation – keep in mind that dehydrating food can take several hours and you do not want to have a constant noise in your kitchen!!
Construction: Plastic or metal units are more sustainable under heavy use and are easier to clean inside and out.
Trays, Inserts and Doors: Ideally your dehydrator will have trays or inserts made of stainless steel, nylon, plastic or some other food-grade material. Meshed trays are the preferred trays for dehydrator because they allow air to circulate and prevent moisture from being trapped. Trays should be lightweight yet sturdy enough to hold the food without bending.
Unit size: The size will depend on how often or for what purpose you intend to use your dehydrator for. The Excalibur for example comes in either 4, 5 or 9 tray so if it’s for your family or restaurant, size will depend on you. Do bear in mind however that large internal capacity need not be reflected in external size.
Economy: Most good units will pay for themselves within one season but remember the more food you can dehydrate per load, the fewer loads you will need, saving you time and energy.
Safety: Ensure your unit is non-flammable and nontoxic. All good units will come with an operating manual so take the time to familiarise yourself with this.
Warranty: Even the best products can occasionally malfunction so ensure your dehydrator comes with a warranty.
Energise Your Life specialise in Excalibur and Stockli dehydrators, please see the Dehydrator product category for more details.