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What's The Best Food Dehydrator?

on Wed, 06/04/2014 - 22:09

Food Dehydrators With Stainless Steel Trays (BPA

A food dehydrator is a small electrical appliance for drying foods indoors. A food dehydrator has an electric element for heat and a fan and vents for air circulation. Dehydrators are efficiently designed to dry foods fast at 140ºF.

Unlike many other materials used in the cookware and food storage industries, stainless steel is non-reactive, and it can handle acidic foods without a problem. This makes stainless steel an ideal material for food dehydrators which often come in contact with acidic foods (think halved tomatoes, apple rings dipped in lemon juice, or sliced pineapple – for example). On the downside, stainless steel is quite expensive compared to plastic, and the list prices for food dehydrators with high-quality stainless steel trays usually range from US$350 to US$600.

Food drying is a way to preserve fruit, vegetables, and animal proteins after harvest, that has been practiced since antiquity, 1 and a food dehydrator refers to a device that removes moisture from food to aid in its preservation. A food dehydrator uses a heat source and air flow to reduce the water content of foods. The water content of food is usually very high, typically 80% to 95% for various fruits and vegetables and 50% to 75% for various meats. Removing moisture from food restrains various bacteria from growing and spoiling food. Further, removing moisture from food dramatically reduces the weight of the food. Thus, food dehydrators are used to preserve and extend the shelf life of various foods.

Life in the humid Midwest, where I now live, is another matter entirely. Even the thin leaves of basil start to mold on the drying trays unless I am extremely careful. I tried using the electric oven and, for wetter fare, the warming oven of the wood cookstove, but space limitations and the difficulty of controlling temperature stymied my efforts. Finally, the promised success of electric food dehydrators got the upper hand. I decided to find out just how well they worked.

After testing many dehydrators, we found the Excalibur units to provide the most even drying due to the parallel air flow technology used In addition, the Excalibur units are one of few brands that have an adjustable thermostat. This is a very important feature in our opinion. In a dehydrator we purchased at a discount store, the temperature was non-adjustable, and we measured it at 170 degrees F. We believe this is just too hot. To preserve enzymes in food, we believe a temperature of about 115 degrees should be used when dehydrating fruits/vegetables/herbs and nuts/seeds to maintain enzymes and nutrients.