If you don’t have a food dehydrator at home yet, now’s a great time to own one! Continue reading below to learn the reasons why having a food dehydrator is one of the best investments you’ll make.
Food Dehydrator Quick Buying Guide
Food Dehydrators Are Valuable Tools
Whether you’re new to prepping or a seasoned prepper, you’re probably familiar with the advice to grow your own garden and to buy in bulk when you can.
Both of these approaches will save you money as you grow your pantry, and success with both will provide you with plenty of nourishing food when it might otherwise not be available.
But what about when your harvest is TOO plentiful, or you got a great deal on meat and you can’t safely store it for long? We highly recommend adding a food dehydrator in your kitchen!
Dehydrators help to reinforce a healthy diet as well as easily preserving food without adding chemicals or sugar. More than anything else, you will find yourself dehydrating meat, fruit, and vegetables – all full of essential nutrients, and all with traditionally short shelf lives.
Dehydrators can be purchased for $50-400 and are a valuable tool for any prepper.
What to Look for When Buying a Dehydrator
As you start shopping for your dehydrator, you will see that there are a myriad of options on the market. Here’s some guidance on what features to look for:
Look at the size of the dehydrator, and the number of racks it has. If your needs are minimal, a smaller and less expensive machine will suffice. But if you have a large garden (or a large family), you may want one of the larger models with 9+ racks.
Choose a model with 500+ watts of power.
- Heating Element
Try not to choose a dehydrator with the heating element on the bottom. You will not want anything to drip onto it. Most dehydrators heat from the top or along the back wall.
- Adjustable Temperature
Be sure the temperature can be adjusted by a significant amount. This way you can dry different types of foods at the best temp for them.
A timer is a nice feature, but not required. If your machine does not have a timer built-in, you will need one of your own to use.
How to Use a Dehydrator
Using a dehydrator is incredibly easy, and yours will likely come with an informative guide of how to use it and the temperature settings for different types of foods.
On your end, all you have to do is thinly and evenly slice the meat or produce you’re drying, lay it evenly across the racks, and set the temperature. Over time, you will become familiar with the best thicknesses for each item.
Dense food like meat will take longer to cook than soft food like fruit.
Dehydrators work by applying a consistent, low heat to food over time. Unlike when you put food in the oven at a high temperature for a short time, foods in the dehydrator will shrink and dry out and have the exact same texture throughout.
The Best Dehydrators on the Market
If you’re ready to buy a dehydrator, make sure the model you choose is the right size and price for your needs. The most highly recommended dehydrators vary significantly, with stackable trays in the lower end models, and shelf trays in more advanced models. Prices may vary but are included for reference.
1. The Excalibur 3926T
This model has 15 sq ft of drying space on its shelf trays, giving plenty of room for those with more food on hand.
Price tag: $200+
- CAPACITY - The 9-Tray electric food dehydrator has 15 square feet of drying space and offers plenty...
- TIME AND TEMPERATURE - Features a 26-hour timer and adjustable thermostat. The thermostat ranges...
- LOW AND SLOW FOR IMMUNITY BOOST - Cooking foods at a temperature no higher than 115-118 degrees in a...
2. The NESCO FD-1040 Gardenmaster
This dehydrator is less than half the price of the Excalibur, making it a great choice for beginners at dehydrating.
It has significantly less space, (although additional trays can be purchased and added) and it is made of less durable plastic.
Price tag: $100
- EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION: 1000 watts of drying power provides even heat distribution for consistent...
- ADJUSTABLE THERMOSTAT: Allows you to dry different foods at proper time (up to 48 hours) and...
- EXPANDABLE TO 20 TRAYS: Comes with 4 BPA Free trays with 1 sq. ft. of drying area per tray, so you...
3. Presto 3601 Dehydro
If you’re looking for something even more budget-friendly, you should check out the Presto 3601 Dehydro, which provides convenient features and fun accessories for making things like fruit leather and drying small items like herbs and spices.
This is a great choice for those only planning to use a dehydrator occasionally.
Price tag: $70
4. Aroma Professional 6-Tray
Looking for something with 6- trays but the Excalibur is a bit out of your budget? The Aroma Professional 6-Tray is a shelf tray model similar to the Excalibur, but with fewer features and a little less space.
Price tag: $100-150
Other Budget Options:
If you’ve got a bigger budget and want all the bells and whistles, we recommend either the STX Dehydra 1200W ($300+) or the Tribest Sedona ($300+).
- The STX Dehydra Model 1200W-XLS is an Extra Large Stainless Steel Commercial Grade Food & Jerky...
- This Dehydrator also Features 1200 Watts of Dehydrating/Heating Power with 7 Preset Heat...
- The Control Panel on the Top of this Unit is 100% Digital and has a 15 Hour Shut Off Timer. The Time...
No matter which dehydrator you choose, your well-preserved Prepper’s Pantry will thank you. You can comfortably buy in bulk and confidently preserve a great harvest!
Last update on 2022-05-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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