What to look for in a food dehydrator?

How to
If you are in search of a dehydrator for food?
Expert or newbie, getting a new dehydrator is definitely becoming a nerve-wracking choice.

Finally, material, power output, size, and volume are all major things you have to take into account before buying a dehydrator. Yet, even then, it doesn’t necessarily matter. Yes, there are plenty of choices available now on the market, lots of options to take into consideration. However, it’s all about a little bit of investigating at times… And we guess this is just the way you landed here.

No worries, because we realize that sorting over product details and numerous ratings can be not just time-consuming, but also lead to you becoming even more puzzled than you probably were anyway. For this very reason, we have compiled a dehydrator buying guide. This guide includes everything you should learn in order to find the best solution for your needs.

How much electricity does a dehydrator use?

While the majority of people choose to use an electric dehydrator in order to save money and avoid throwing away as much food, this is not the only reason. While running for ten hours, the majority of food dehydrators will cost anywhere from $0.29 to $1.20 to operate.

It takes 6.5 cents per hour to operate a 700-watt dehydrator (which is approximately average). 121$/1313kWh=0.092$/kWh. Multiply that by 0.7kW, since 700 watts is 0.7kW, and the response is $0.065/hr. or 6.5cents per hour. Once you got a 1400-watt unit, then double that: 13cents per hour.

Furthermore, do dehydrators consume a significant amount of electricity in the U.K.?

A: No. All electrical dehydrators feature a blower and a heating element, however, do not make the common mistake of using their power output as a benchmark for power usage. The average drying durations are dependent on a number of different variables; however, many popular dehydrating applications average out to be much shorter than 24 hours. Understanding whether a dehydrator is power efficient is also essential.

Dehydrators are typically far more energy effective than ovens. Using a temperature rating that is too high can cause food to be cooked rather than just dehydrated. This means that more flavor and nutrients are actually lost compared to using a dehydrator.

Is it safe to leave a dehydrator going overnight?

Well, it’s evident that most dehydrating processes will last a LONG period of time, as well as letting you run with the dehydrator through the night.

Dehydrator brands

Do you think you should have an automatic dehydrator to try your hand at dehydrating your own food? Definitely not! If you are keen on creating your own vegetable chips or dehydrated apricots from time to time, you can attempt to imitate their action by drying them gradually on cooling shelves using an oven turned to low. However, if you’re searching for a convenient, easy-to-use option for getting more fresh food preserved (as well as creating your personal jerky kingdom), a dehydrator is a profitable purchase.

In order to get you started sorting through the choices and choosing the top food dehydrator to suit your specific needs, we’ve reached out to ratings from real people on Amazon who have bought the devices and actually been using them on their own. No matter if you’re seeking a compact device for confined areas or a serious workhorse to really get into DIY dehydration, these top-selling units feature almost-perfect evaluations and enthusiastic reviews that outline why these units are so awesome.

1. Excalibur

Excalibur has been in the business of selling high-end horizontal dehydrators that have earned an outstanding rating in the business. For anyone making food in this manner the first time, the starting price and large size will be a little discouraging, though, for anyone who is passionate about food dehydration, an Excalibur dehydrator has the potential to be a profitable purchase. Besides the casual discomfort of the noise they produce, customer reviews are usually gushing. Overall, if you’re serious about buying a dehydrator, Excalibur is certainly a brand you need to check out.

2. Koolatron.

If you are seeking a dependable dehydrator at a reasonable cost, then the Vertical Flow Dehydrator from Koolatron is just what you need. This appears to be the only type of dehydrator they manufacture, which can be considered either a great thing or a poor thing, based on your outlook. While not yet a lot of reviews exist for this dehydrator, those that we have come across the point to the fact that customers are satisfied with their purchase, particularly considering the cost.

3. L’Equip


L’Equip distributes high-quality vertical food dehydrators. Renowned for their durability (they come with a 12-year guarantee), they usually get fairly solid ratings from consumers, though a few reviewers note the necessity of changing the trays regularly to maintain consistent cooking.

4. Nesco

Nesco has become one of the top popular brands in the dehydrator market, with their Snackmaster and Gardenmaster appliances at the top of the list. They have a range of various models with the vertical flow. These devices are some of the most reasonably priced choices available, and all of them get pretty solid customer ratings. Because Nesco provides a range of various popular models, it’s essential to review the various functions of each model before you decide on one. Regardless of which one you decide to buy when all is said and done, Nesco remains a fantastic brand that has established a sound reputation in the dehydration field.

5. Presto

Presto produces a simple and reasonably priced vertical flow dehydrator in several different sizes (all of them are upgradeable if you purchase extra shelves). Its design is basic and there aren’t any frills like a timer or thermostat, yet a lot of reviewers appear to be pleased by its overall performance anyway.

6. Tribest

Tribest produces a horizontal dehydrator that is at the upper limit of the price spectrum of items available on the market. They are somewhat of a newcomer to the food dehydration arena and thus far the ratings are quite varied, having some customers reporting problems with durability or models that need fixes directly from the box. Tribest dehydrators tend to be on the pricey side and whilst they manage to do a great job, they will likely not be the greatest fit for everyone who is a novice in the field of food dehydration.

what is a dehydrator

What does a food dehydrator do?

Dehydrators draw moisture from food but do not actually cook it. This is achieved through a heating unit that delivers consistent, warm temperatures along with a mini fan that pulls air through the base or back of the device and up over the dishes containing the food within.

Through the process of easily removing moisture, dehydrators aid in maintaining the great nutritional value of the food and the finest flavors. As a result, your recipes could be both healthier and more flavorful with dehydrated foods!

How they work

Dehydrators are usually small appliances that are perfect for drying fruits, vegetables, seeds, herbs, fish, and meat.

If you grow your own fresh vegetables or have produced fruit trees, vines, or berry bushes, you’d probably really appreciate being able to set something up without using up valuable freezer space (or having to dig it out – especially with a chest type).

Or you can go through the more labor-intensive process of canning, which in the case of fruit generally adds more sugar to the final product. For those who don’t have the luxury of their own garden, consider getting the benefits of seasonal offerings by shopping at the fruit and vegetable market where you can benefit from discounted prices. Easy-to-use dehydrators come in many sizes with varying numbers of shelves or trays for drying.

You put the food on a tray, and the device gradually spreads warmed air throughout the trays, coated with a net. The units generate a really mild heat (at least the good ones do) drying the food out in a slow and even manner, thereby retaining the organic substance and avoiding “hardening” on the outside. This kind of toughening happens when fruits, vegetables, or meats are being heated too fast, creating a seal on the outside and locking in moisture.

Therefore, it is extremely critical to get rid of moisture as much as possible throughout the drying cycle. Every dehydrator functions a bit in a different way, and the quickness at which food can be dehydrated will vary appropriately.

For instance, denser, thicker types of fruit are going to get dehydrated for a longer duration of time in comparison to something similar to mellow fruit, which will fall apart more readily. When you start using a new machine, you’ll learn the proper sizes for slicing various fruits, meats, and veggies to achieve the highest efficient dehydration process.

Types of dehydrators

Once you begin searching for the very finest food dehydrator, you will find that the majority of models come under two key categories: Vertical Flow and Horizontal Flow.

As their names indicate, you can easily distinguish the distinction between the two kinds of food dehydrators based on their alignment and if the food is piled vertically or stacked next to each other. However, the orientation is just one of the distinctions; these two model kinds also work in different ways.

  • Vertical flow dehydrators

The majority of vertical flow dehydrators, which are at times known as stackable devices, feature a heat generator that is either on the underside of the device or on the upper side. Vertical flow dehydrators are usually the most affordable choices, but this is due in part to the fact they do not spread the heat out as evenly. However, the majority of vertical flow designs include a ventilator that does the job. While they work well enough with the majority of the vegetables and fruits, though, you will have a more difficult time getting decent beef jerky coming out of it unless you do some hand strain in changing the dishes around while the drying process is going on.


  • Inexpensive.
  • Light & Compact. They typically won’t occupy much counter space and are easily stowed away.
  • Quite commonly, they are upgradeable. You can buy additional trays with time for many of these dehydrators.

Things to consider:

  • Their heating is not as consistent as that of horizontal models.
  • For the best performance, be sure to spend time changing out the trays.
  • Functions much easier with fruits and vegetables rather than with meat.

Horizontal dehydrators, also known sometimes as shelf dehydrators, operate rather like a conventional oven, where the heating element can be found in the rear.

These cost more than vertical models, however, they are renowned for dehydrating with a more consistent flow across the whole device. This is what sets them apart as the perfect option for producing beef jerky and for dehydrating beef. This kind of dehydrator makes it by far the simplest to operate. You can just turn it on and allow it to stand until your food is prepared with no additional effort.


  • Uniform & efficient dehydration throughout.
  • Can be used for meat and harder vegetables.
  • Easy to use. Once set in motion, no manual labor is required.
  • You can try more challenging recipes.

Things to consider:

  • Tend to be more expensive.
  • They are larger.
  • Require more countertop or cabinet space to use and store.

How to use a food dehydrator?

1. Soaking and drying crispy nuts and seeds

The soaking and dehydration of nuts and seeds have the potential to lower levels of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which may hinder the uptake of nutrients. Lots of nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.) recommended being left to soak in salted water overnight and dehydrated for 12 to 24 hours at no higher than 150F until crispy.

2. Make your own sprouted flour

Create your very own sprouted flour with the help of your dehydrator. Sprouted cereal must be dehydrated at a low temperature before grinding it into flour.

3. Make your own yogurt

Rather than using a yogurt machine that occupies counter space and serves only one purpose, try using your dehydrator to produce yogurt. Using a cube-shaped dehydrator can accommodate lots of various-sized jars. While temperature needs can vary according to the particular culture, yogurt usually becomes really set at 110F.

Tip: Do individual portions by pouring the yogurt mixture into wide-neck canning jars. Use the dehydrator dishes to make several layers to maximize the volume of yogurt made per cycle.

4. Make your own beef jerky

Making jerky is simple with a dehydrator. For jerky made from cut meats, tofu, or kombucha scoby (yep, it works!), the plastic or metal dishes in the dehydrator are normally enough. When using ground meat, we suggest using non-stick dishes (like Excalibur’s Paraflexx dishes) or unbleached greaseproof paper.

5. Ferment sourdough

Keep your sourdough starter warm and cheerful throughout the cold winter months by using your dehydrator. Usually, a temperature range of 75-80 F works the best. If your dehydrator thermometer isn’t adjusted to this temperature, you might still be okay to keep the temperature by opening the dehydrator lid. Be sure to verify the temperature of your sourdough starter two times with a manual thermometer to prevent the sourdough starter from overheating.

6. Make your own granola

Make soaked or sprouted granola using your dehydrator. Check out this simple and tasty granola mix recipe made with soaked and dehydrated grains and sprouted flour.

6 basic food dehydration tips

Below are six essential food dehydration advice to consider.

  • Be sure you have the proper temperature:

The temperature and time needed for appropriate dehydration will vary based on the type of dehydrator you buy and the kind of food you plan to dehydrate. Common time and temperature recommendations are listed on the dehydrator’s tag or provided in the user’s guide together with the suggested duration.

  • Be sure that the food is 95% dehydrated:

In order to be correctly stocked, the food needs a minimum of 95 percent dehydration. When your food is soft, squishy, or sticky in feel, put it back in the dehydrator for extra time. Hard and crispy or breakable pieces are all done. High indoor humidity, air conditioning, or cool air can change the time it takes to dehydrate food. Preferably, install your dehydrator in a dry, warm place that is distant from vents and windows.

  • Never try to dry the food faster:

Do not be concerned about overdrying your food. They can dry for longer if necessary, however, it is not recommended to increase the temperature controls to make an attempt to dry the food more quickly. Doing so causes the outside to become sealed while moisture is left inside, eventually leading to the food going bad even before you get a chance to eat it.

  • Preparing is everything:

Before dehydrating something, be sure to rinse any food thoroughly using an antibacterial vegetable cleaner. Use gloves when cooking food to prevent skin oils from transferring to the food. Blanch all low-acid vegetables prior to dehydrating them for 10 minutes. Once steamed, pat them dry before putting them in the dehydrator. Sprinkle bananas and apples with lemon juice to avoid turning them brown.

  • Get more efficient

Much like an oven, it is recommended that you switch on the dehydrator before use so it can warm up to the necessary temperature before adding foods. Make foods that need the same temperature and then dehydrate them simultaneously. You will achieve the best performance if you slice all foods into equal thickness and size.

sliced apple for dehydrator


You can store food to dry as often as you want. If you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can dry and store them in a season without needing additional electricity as you would with freezing. Plus, they’re still safe even if the power goes out. Drying your produce is also not nearly as labor-intensive as home canning. Plus, you can further extend the shelf life of many types of produce dried at home by using oxygen absorbers and desiccant packs. Hikers and campers can use these devices to dehydrate their favorite foods for outdoor activities. They can pack a lot of good calories and vitamins in a very small and lightweight package that can be rehydrated at any time. Have a little (or big) kid who loves jerky, but you don’t love the cost? Do it on the cheap! Use cheaper, leaner cuts of beef and it will taste better than store-bought. Want to jazz up a stew or soup? Throw a few handfuls of sun-dried tomatoes, corn, peppers, etc. into the mix and it will put a smile on your face. A complete stew can actually be made with 100% dried materials.

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Steve Toomey

The main inspirer and creator of this resource. In passion about gardening, home decor & interior. Also, likes to DIY projects and interesting in house gadgets. Moreover, he likes to find out how to make cooking easier and simple with kitchen gadgets. Read More.

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