Benefits of owning a food dehydrator
Got recipe fatigue? Dehydrating food can open up a new world of meal and snack options - perfect when inspiration is lacking and you're ready to try something new.
Like anything, there are perks to trying something a little out of the ordinary and dehydrating is no exception. Apart from adding diversity to your weekly intake, a food dehydrator can also help you to:
Waste less produce
Lower your cost per meal
Create healthy snacks
Increase the shelf life of meat (jerky is great for taking away on trips)
Healthy snacks for your dehydrator
There are so many types of food you can dehydrate as well as an array of fusions and exotic combinations to experiment with so you never get bored. Here are few ideas to get you started:
Dried fruits. Got some strawberries that are looking a little done? What about bananas or oranges? Dried foods like dehydrated fruit are great for afternoon snacks.
Fruit leathers. Homemade fruit roll-ups in the dehydrator make great snacks and will still give you that welcome sugar boost for those inevitable afternoon energy dips. From berries to mangos, the options are virtually endless.
Veggie chips. Some experts claim that properly dehydrated food can last up to five years - so don’t rush to throw away wilting greens or produce. You can turn anything from kale and mushrooms to carrots into chips for an all-around healthy choice.
Jerky. Hit the hills for an epic day-long hike or trek - just be sure to pack something to nibble on. Beef jerky is an excellent portable snack because it provides you with a healthy boost of protein and iron, keeping pangs of hunger at bay. It can also be made in batches and with no added preservatives.
Yoghurt. Didn't know you could dehydrate yoghurt? Combine plain yoghurt with freeze-dried fruits and cereals to create tasty yoghurt tiles or drops. You can also use a dehydrator for the fermenting process when making yoghurt from scratch.
Here are three recipes you need to try!
Finding the best food dehydrator
Now you’re sold on dehydrated foods, what should you look out for when buying a dehydrator?
Kitchen Warehouse offers a dehydrator for every family type and every budget. Use this guide to prioritise the features you’re looking for to help narrow down your search.
Aspects to look out for:
Operational features. Terms like airflow, top venting, electric fan circulation, heating element, adjustable thermostat and temperature control help to differentiate a good dehydrator from an average one.
Number of shelves available. Dehydrators come in a range of sizes so, depending on how keen you are and how you go about the drying process, you can find options that range from 4 to 30 shelves and add more in the future.
Trays included. A tray food dehydrator comes with a number of mesh stainless steel trays (also called drying racks) which act as shelves. Whether you pick the stacking kind of dehydrator or the shelf kind, you can dehydrate directly onto the trays without the need for a mat.
Tray material. Food-grade stainless steel is the preferred choice for the trays as they are highly durable and easy to clean. Dehydrators with stackable and interlocking BPA-free plastic trays are also great - especially for beginners.
Temperature and power. The higher the temperature the more trays can be dehydrated at once. An adjustable thermostat, ranging from 35 to 70 degrees celsius, is also important as the dehydrating process and drying times for each food type will vary.
Extra inclusions. LCD control panels, digital temperature readings, overheating protection, transparent doors to check on progress, and the warranty are all extra inclusions and not necessarily a given, making them great tiebreakers if you’re struggling to pick one product over another.
Types of food dehydrators to choose from
The best food dehydrator is the one you’re most comfortable using.
Stacking dehydrators have trays that stack on top of one another and are usually fan mounted either on the top or at the base. The clever design usually makes it unnecessary to rotate trays while drying which is great if you’re more of a low maintenance kind of hobbyist. They are also versatile and hold an efficient capacity as you have the option to add or remove trays to accommodate small or large batches.
The oven-like design has trays that look more like shelves or racks and are made of mesh stainless steel rather than BPA-free plastic. The airflow system on these dehydrators are different and the fan and heating elements are mounted at the back, and blow air horizontally across the shelves towards the front for even drying. Unlike stacking dehydrators where you always have the option to add more trays, you are limited to the number of shelves afforded by the design. However, it’s much easier to remove the trays and tailor the process for dehydrating different ingredients at once.
Benefits of a digital food dehydrator
You have two main options when buying an electric food dehydrator - digital or non-digital. Non-digital food dehydrators will have easy to use turning knobs to select your settings but no LCD screen. A digital food dehydrator such as the BioChef Arizona Sol 6 Tray Food Dehydrator or the Devanti Food Dehydrator range on our website, will have a touchscreen digital control panel at the top with an easy to read screen. The main benefit being a more precise and in-control experience.
What are the best foods to dry or dehydrate?
Nuts and seeds
Want to make the prep easier? Be sure to grab a mandolin gadget to lift the load!
How does dehydrating food work?
Food dehydrators work in a similar way to ovens in the way that they circulate air, but instead of cooking with heat, dehydrators draw out moisture, drying out food to prolong the shelf life. Simply place ingredients on a dehydrator tray and watch the magic happen.
While it can take time, somewhere in the region of anywhere from 5 to 14 hours, it’s an extremely worthwhile process and a great way to combat the war on waste.
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