There are hundreds and hundreds of snack items available, but for the person who wants to eat healthily, not so much. Have you ever had the munchies but all you can find are snacks which are high in sugar, high in salt, high in saturated fats… just generally unhealthy. What should a health conscious person do? Well I have recently found out the answer. Dehydrate your fruits and veggies and have them as snacks. Okay, so I hear some of you laughing and saying than I must have been under a rock if I am just finding that out. You knew about dehydrating fruits and veggies long ago, didn’t you. Well better late than never. It’s good to know that you can Boost your Health with a Food Dehydrator Machine by increasing the amounts of healthy dried fruits and vegetables you eat and eliminating all the unhealthy snacks.
Recently I have been looking into dehydrators. Never paid any attention to them all these years but suddenly they are at the top of my priorities list. Wonders never cease!
So what is a dehydrator?
There might be other types of dehydrators in the engineering world but what we are talking about is a food dehydrator. This is a device than aids in the preservation of food by removing the moisture from the food item. It is used to preserve fruits, vegetables, herbs, even animal protein (for those who might want to know than). Removal off the moisture results in naturally concentrated, rich and delicious tasting food.
How do they work?
There are many types of dehydrators and they come in different shapes and sizes. The general principle though is that heat is passed through the dehydrator and dries out the food than is in it. The different models tend to fall into two main categories, vertical flow food dehydrators and horizontal flow food dehydrators
A food dehydrator uses heating elements as a heat source and a fan and air vents to provide proper air flow. This all works together to reduce the water content of foods. The vertical air-flow dehydrators have the fan mounted on the top or bottom of the machine while the horizontal air-flow dehydrators have the fan mounted at the back.
Heating the food allows for moisture to be released from the food and into the dehydrator. The fan then pushes excess moisture to the vents, where it is released outside of the dehydrator. Removing moisture from food inhibits various bacteria from growing and spoiling the food, thus extending the shelf life.
Don’t be surprised to find out than your food weighs much less, as removing the water content from food will dramatically reduce the weight of the food. Especially when you consider that the water content of food is usually very high, typically 80–95% for various fruits and vegetables and 50–75% for various meats.
The process is very simple. You lay out your food on the rack, place it in the dehydrator, start the machine and that’s it. The process takes several hours and for some brands you might need to rotate the racks to ensure even heating.
What to look for when buying a dehydrator
There are some factors to consider when buying a food dehydrator.
- How easy it is to use
I am easily turned off by technology than is too complicated. If it involves too many steps and technical know how to operate I probably will not be using it very often. You should look for a machine than is easy to operate and easy to maintain.
- The heat distribution and air flow
This is an important factor. If the heat distribution and airflow is inadequate or inefficient your food will not dry out evenly or properly. So you might end up with perfectly dehydrated food at one end of your dehydrator and a soggy mess at the other end.
- The size than is best suited for you need
There are two main things you have to take into consideration
- What volume of food you will be dehydrating
- How much space you have in your kitchen.
If you have a large garden and like to dehydrate food from your bountiful harvests, it would make sense to get one of the larger size dehydrators. If you will only be dehydrating small amounts of fruits or vegetables at a time, it would be better to get a smaller dehydrator. At least you will end up with more space in your kitchen to do other things.
- Added Features
…..such as timer, auto shut-off, thermostat
Some dehydrators come with additional bells and whistles. They are not necessary for the working of the machine but they sure make life easier. For example, a timer and auto shut-off will allow you to lay out your food in the dehydrator, start the machine and go about your business without having to give it another thought. The machine will run the cycle for the required time and then shut off at the end. No problem of your batch being ruined because you forgot to turn off the dehydrator.
A thermostat will help you to set the dehydrator at various temperatures depending on what you are trying to dehydrate.
- How much noise it makes
The dehydrators have fans to circulate the air. As you can imagine fans will make some noise. While this is not such a major issue, if you plan to do your dehydrating in the night you would probably want to get one with a quieter fan.
- The price
Prices tend to range from $30 up to as much as $600. Of course the $30 one would be really low end and not the best quality. The $600 one would be top of the line and used mainly for industrial purposes.
If you are new to dehydrating and you are only catering to your family, you can consider getting one in the $50 to $150 range. You can get very good brands for than price that will last you for a very long time.
Check out this video about how to use a dehydrator to dry out your fruits and vegetables.
A quick glance at Amazon or Walmart or other such stores will show you that there are quite a number of choices if you plan to purchase your own dehydrator. I will introduce you to two of them.
Two very popular brands
The Nesco is one of the leading brands with a long history of manufacturing food dehydrators.
They handle a wide range of foods including fruits and vegetables, herbs, soup mixes and beef (again, for those who are interested).
- Easy to use.
You simply load up the racks, set your temperature and timer and just walk away. That’s all there is to it. Come back when dehydration is complete.
- Easy to clean
One benefit of the Nesco is than unlike many other food dehydrators it can be tossed into the dishwasher. This makes cleaning up a breeze. You just unload your dried fruits, take it apart and rinse it off and place in the dishwasher. How easy is than?
- It’s versatile
The separate racks can be stacked together one on top of the other, so than you can dehydrate many different types of foods at one time.
- It is quick
Because of its superb ventilation system you don’t have to flip or maneuver the food inside the unit. This allows for the drying process to be completed in a shorter time…hours instead of days.
- It doesn’t have a timer or an on/off switch.
Not many cons at all.
Another popular brand, the Excalibur has an exceptional reputation in the dehydrator market . They utilize the horizontal flow technology.
- The horizontal trays make for easy drying of food.
- The horizontal trays make for easy access to the food. You can easily pull out just the tray you are interested in and not have to dissemble the entire set-up to get to the bottom rack as is the case with some other dehydrators.
- The nine racks which most of the Excalibur models have, allows for the dehydrating of lots of fruits and vegetables at one time. So if you have reaped lots of food from you vegetable garden you are able to process large amounts at a time.
- Most of them have timers and on and off switch which makes walk away option very easy. You can be sure that your fruits will not be over dried because you have forgotten them in your dehydrator. The timer will be there to remind you.
- The major drawback to this dehydrator is the cost as they can be pretty pricey.
- Tends to be a little bit noisy
Healthy snacks, here I come
I can’t wait to dry my papaya, mango, pineapple, banana, carrots, beets, kale……..can’t stop me now.
What about you? Are you up for some healthy snacks? Get your dehydrator and give it a go.
Share your experiences in the comments section below.