Hailed by food experts as one of the best ways to preserve foods, food dehydrators have increasingly gained in popularity over the last few years! The benefits of homemade dehydrated foods over the store bought variety are immense; you no longer have to worry about the chemical preservatives that are added to the produce to extend their shelf life and more importantly you know exactly where your food is coming from!
Food dehydrators are an important addition to any kitchen, especially if you want to save money on food costs over time. They are an economical way to store food while keeping 90% of its nutritional value.
When choosing a food dehydrator you’ll find that they come in many different shapes, sizes and prices. There is quite a large range available and it can be difficult to know which one will be best for you. When looking for a food dehydrator its best compare food dehydrators and types to get an idea of what will work best for you.
Here we hope to provide you with everything you need to know before buying a food dehydrator. To help you out we have included a handy comparison table that will cover all the basic features and specifications that you will need to think about before making your purchase, so before spending those hard earned pounds read below to get all the info!
There are 2 main types of dehydrator shapes, a circular style and a square style and it’s very important to familiarise yourself with the differences before making any decisions.
While circular dehydrators tend to be a bit less expensive you need to keep in mind that despite the multiple levels you will ultimately have less drying space and will not be able to dry larger pieces of food or herbs.
Also you need to be aware that the heater and fan are both located either at the top or bottom of the dehydrator and this will dramatically impact the way your food dries. The food closest to the fan is going to dry much faster than the food furthest away, this means it will require you to closely monitor the ingredients inside the machine and that you will have to rotate the trays in order to have your produce dry equally.
This is far from ideal as you are then having to open the machine and disturb the drying process therefore creating an uneven dehydrating temperature which can cause food to be dried on the outside but not on the inside, this can become quite a hazardous situation when it comes to food preservation as it can create the risk of bacteria.
The only advantage of a circular food dehydrator is that they are designed to be stack-able so you only have to use the exact number of trays that you require, however as you will still be drawing the same amount of power it is always going to be more economical to use it to it’s full capacity.
One of the biggest advantages of Square Style Dehydrator is the ample drying space. The square or rectangle trays make drying larger pieces of food like long strips of beef jerky or sprigs of rosemary a breeze, you can also remove trays to create a wider area allowing you to ferment yoghurt or raise dough, which is not possible in the circular stacking style of dehydrator.
Another benefit of a square or rectangle machine is that the fan is generally located at the back of the unit (although it is recommended that you check this before purchasing!) therefore creating an even and constant drying environment. Basically the air is drawn at the back of the machine, heated and then distributed evenly across each tray, pushing moisture out through the front of the unit. This superior method means that you do not have to monitor the food during the dehydrating period and can be guaranteed that all the food will be dried to perfection every time and because there has been no disruption to the air during the cycle you do not have to worry about harmful bacteria that will cause your food to spoil.
It is essential to use a square style of food dehydrator if you want to make any kind of meat jerky. The reason being is that only a square style of food dehydrator is going to evenly and consistently dry the meat from tray to tray. If meat doesn't reach the correct temperature, pathogens and bacteria will begin to grow, making the jerky unsafe to eat. Only a square style of dehydrator is recommended for making jerky so the correct temperature is evenly distributed throughout the drier.
We recommend the BioChef 8 Tray Food Dehydrator or the BioChef Arizona 6 Tray Food Dehydrator, depending on the amount of meat you want to dry at any given time.
Both models of BioChef Food Dehydrators are perfect for drying fruits and making fruit roll-ups. They even both come with an additional fine mesh sheet (ideal for smaller fruits like blueberries or grapes), and a non-stick sheet (for fruit leathers). When trying to decide which one is best for fruit, it basically comes down to size. At 6 and 8 trays, it really depends on how many people you are drying for and how much you want to dry at any given time.
We would generally recommend a dehydrator which has a digital timer to any raw foodist as they can more accurately set the time they wish to dehydrate their foods for, and the machine will automatically shut off when the time is up. This enables any raw foodist to achieve the most accurate result when drying a wider range of foods.
Alternatively, the BioChef Arizona Food Dehydrator has stainless steel trays for anyone who is concerned about plastics. While the BioChef 8 Tray Dehydrator is completely BPA free, we know that this can still be a concern for some customers, so the BioChef Arizona is a great alternative here.
The BioChef Arizona is the best dehydrator for you to use here, the removal-able door allows you to have as many or as little trays as you want at any given time, meaning you can rise bread and use the glass jars required for setting yoghurt. The door on the Arizona Dehydtrator keeps the air inside rather than the other type of dehydrator which relies on interlocking trays.
✓ NEW UPDATED MODEL! Digital Display + non-stick sheets included ✓ 6x Stainless Steel Drying Trays + 100% BPA Free Outer Casing ✓ Digital Display: 19.5 Hour Timer + Adjustable Thermostat: 35º to 70ºC ✓ Horizontal Drying System = Guaranteed Consistent Drying ✓ Transparent Door & Removable Trays ✓ Includes: 1x Non-Stick Sheet, 1x Fine Mesh Sheet & 1x Drip Tray ✓ 3 Year Warranty
✓ Stainless Steel Trays / BPA Free Casing ✓ 8 Tray Capacity = 0.79m2 ✓ EPT™ Horizontal Drying System ✓ 24 Hour Digital Timer ✓ Transparent Magnetic Door ✓ Adjustable Thermostat 35º - 70º ✓ Includes: 2 x Non-Stick Sheets, 2 x Mesh Sheets ✓ 3 Year Warranty
✓ Stainless Steel Trays / BPA Free Casing ✓ 10 Tray Capacity = 0.99m2 ✓ EPT™ Horizontal Drying System ✓ 24 Hour Digital Timer ✓ Transparent Magnetic Door ✓ Adjustable Thermostat 35º - 70º ✓ Includes: 3 x Non-Stick Sheets, 3 x Mesh Sheets ✓ 3 Year Warranty