Using a food dehydrator is a great way to make wonderful tasting and very healthy snacks at home. You can also save yourself a lot of money by making things like beef jerky and dried fruit yourself rather than buying them in the grocery store. But what are some of the things you should look for to make sure you are getting a good quality item? We put together this brief food dehydrator buying guide to help answer some of those kinds of questions for you.
The first thing you might want to look at is the price. You should know how much you’re willing to spend before you start shopping. Dehydrators can range in price from about $40 to several hundred dollars. Figure out how much you’re willing to spend and then you can start shopping around for items in your price range.
There are some important features you should also look for in a food dehydrator. One such feature is whether the unit uses horizontal or vertical airflow. Some machines use vertical airflow which means the warm air rises up from the bottom through the different trays of food that you are dehydrating. With vertical airflow there is a greater chance that flavors of different kinds of food will mix together so it’s usually not a good idea to try to dehydrate different types of foods at the same time. A dehydrator that uses horizontal airflow will force air horizontally across the food items in each tray. This will minimize the mixing of different flavors and also helps ensure equal heat penetration and even drying times.
Another feature that you would probably want to have in a dehydrator is an adjustable or stackable design. If the trays in your dehydrator are not adjustable this will greatly limit your options but if you can stack and/or remove trays you can dehydrate all kinds of different food items but you could also dehydrate nonfood items like potpourri, a wedding bouquet, arts and crafts projects etc.
In addition to the features mentioned above there are also a number of bells and whistles and additional features that you might be interested in. For example some machines will have an adjustable temperature control that will allow you to set your desired temperature and this will give you more flexibility for dehydrating different types of items. Some dehydrators also have things like a digital timer which is a great feature to have so that you can set your dehydrator and walk away without worrying about leaving things in too long. Another great feature to look for is a simple on/off switch. Surprisingly a lot of dehydrators don’t have such a simple feature and you have to plug them in to turn them on and unplugged them to turn them off.
As you can see there are a lot of different features that you may or may not be interested in. We tried to list the most important ones first so in our opinion the most important things to look for would be a machine that is in your price range that uses a horizontal airflow design and has adjustable or stackable trays.