Drying food such as vegetables, meat or fruits for proper preservation and improved flavor is not new. The only difference is in the effectiveness of the method or tools used. Some people still use the olden ways of sun drying food items but as technology advances we now have electric food dehydrator available in different sizes and features. A typical electric dehydrator works by heating air and circulating this hot air throughout the dehydrator. Dehydration of food is natural and it is done without adding any chemicals. This process helps you prepare food for sending to family and friends, backpacking and for school lunches. Ardent gardeners can also use dehydration to reduce the volume of their products when they have limited storage space.
General Benefits of Food Dehydration
The food is considerably resistant to yeast, mold and bacteria more flavor in food items less interference with food content or structure Dehydrated food items are less harmful since there are no chemical additives
How to Choose a Food Dehydrator.
There have been numerous improvements on dehydrator types, models, capacities and shapes since they were introduced. The most common food dehydrators come in tow shapes; the recommended square dehydrators and the round dehydrators. The square dehydrators offer more functional room. Although many marketing gimmicks will claim faster drying, the fact is that most standard electric dehydrators work almost at the same pace when used to dry the same type of food. The main difference is in the heat distribution and drying mechanism characterized by airflow, design, timer and temperature control, noise level, versatility, wattage, price and the quality of the materials used in the manufacture of the dehydrator unit. The most important factors to consider when shopping for a commercial dehydrator include.
Dehydrator Style: There are box-style dehydrators with trays and stackable food dehydrators.
The box-style dehydrators work more like ovens for even heat distribution with the fan and heater at the back of the unit. Box-style dehydrators take more kitchen space compared to the stackable type but their versatility allows for diverse use such as drying light garments like lingerie, making yogurt or bread rising. Air is blown horizontally at once through the entire pile of trays making it ideal for drying mixed foods types. The advantage of this is the preservation of the different flavors with little to no tray rotation required. The trays are also easily accessible for simplified tray removal and food checking. Box-style dehydrators are however not expandable although this is not a major problem since they come in small to large sizes. They are easy to clean.
Stackable dehydrators on the other hand have the fan and heater at the bottom or the top and the air is blown vertically. Sometimes the fan and heater can be placed on opposite ends depending on the make and model. This means there are high chances of flavors transferring between different foods. Access is also an issue because a middle tray can only be accessed by removing all trays above it. They are easily expandable by buying extra trays but harder to clean especially if the food drips on the fan. This dripping problem together the difference in drying periods for different foods to dry makes it necessary to constantly rotate the stacked trays.
Shopping For the Best Food Dehydrator
Our top 3 commercial dehydrator list includes the following best rated dehydrators based on customer reviews and overall performance in terms of the above highlighted features or specifications.
1. Excalibur D900CDSHD Tray Clear Door Stainless Steel Dehydrator with Stainless Steel Trays Why? Ever heard of the Parallax" Horizontal Air Flow and Hyper wave" Fluctuation patented technology? Well this unique heating and drying combination with a 600w 7 inch fan is ranked number 1 in the industry and it is the core of the Excalibur D900CDSHD dehydrators functionality. This top rated dehydrator has a classy looking stainless steel exterior and a polycarbonate interior. The clear door is also made of polycarbonate material and it also makes it possible for you to see the progress of dehydration without having to open the dehydrator. They also have a 26 hour timer controlled thermostat that stops automatically with a temperature range adjustable from 105 to 165 degrees F. The 9 stainless steel trays provide large spaces (approximately 15 sq feet) for food placement and separation during dehydration. Dry your meat and fish in record 4 – 6 hours tops. The unit uses 110 – 120 Volts. The dehydrators made in the United States.
2. TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator with 5 Stainless Steel Shelves Why? This dehydrator is made of food safe rust free stainless steel. The louvered door is designed with air circulation maximizing holes to let out air and moisture. The temperature range is a bit lower although you can choose between 90 to 155 degrees on the adjustable thermostat controlled by a 12 hour timer. There is a switch to bypass the timer. The trays are also made of food grade stainless steel with around 8 sq feet of food placement space. The fan and heater are conveniently positioned at the back of the unit making it easy to clean because the panel covering the electrical components together with the fan is easily removable. The trays sit on support brackets which are designed to allow for simplified handling while setting up or removing food from the dehydrator. It is especially a great choice for fruits and vegetables. You can also insert a digital thermometer through a specialized hole placed on the face door for better temperature monitoring. This TSM products dehydrator can be classified as medium capacity. This product is made in the United States.
3. Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator Why? The Excalibur 3926TB just like the Excalibur D900CDSHD also offers 15 sq feet of space on 9 trays for drying your food items and works on the same heating and drying technology. There is a 26 hour timer for the thermostat coupled with an on/off switch. Although the front door is not transparent for easy food monitoring, the timer enables you to carry out your food dehydration without having to check all the time. One of the unique features of this dehydrator model is the flexible nonstick poly screen insert for trays. The exterior is made of durable plastic is ideal for home use. This unit’s versatility allows you to dry other items such as dough art, clay home crafts, flowers and potpourri. The thermostat is also adjustable between 105 to 155 degrees F. The Excalibur 3926TB is available in black.