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Food Dehydrator Buying Guide

Dehy­dra­tors have become pop­u­lar elec­tri­cal devices in most mod­ern kitchens. In most homes, fam­i­ly mem­bers have enjoyed pre­serv­ing their favorite food using them. Mar­ket to and fro hur­ry, to buy frozen and canned meal has become a sto­ry of the past. Peo­ple have saved mon­ey over time and also reduced home waste since excess food can be pre­served for lat­er use. Unlike in the past, per­ish­able food such as veg­eta­bles, meat, and fish can no longer be spread out for sun dry­ing. A more reli­able and effi­cient device has come to replace such and oth­er tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of food preser­va­tion. It is worth not­ing that vari­eties of dehy­dra­tors vary from each oth­er depend­ing on their air­flow sys­tems. The two major types are hor­i­zon­tal air­flow and ver­ti­cal air flow dehy­dra­tors. You can opt to pur­chase any of the two depend­ing on their functionality. 

Vertical-Flow Dehydrator

vertical flow dehydrator

A ver­ti­cal-flow dehy­dra­tor is also referred to as a stack­able food dehy­dra­tor. The main dif­fer­ence between this dehy­dra­tor and the hor­i­zon­tal-flow dehy­dra­tor is the loca­tion of the fan. Its fan is locat­ed at the base or the top­most part of it. This appli­ance is known to have a sim­ple design and is more compact.

How Vertical-Flow Dehydrator Works

Notably, the work­ing of dif­fer­ent brands of ver­ti­cal-flow dehy­dra­tors varies in some respects. But most of them have great work­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties. In this dehy­dra­tor, the hot air moves from the bot­tom of the unit to the top and vice-ver­sa. The hot air that moves ver­ti­cal­ly and down­wards via a fan-heater unit and spread through stacked trays dehy­drates food. Depend­ing on the posi­tion of the source of hot air, the tray near the fan dries bet­ter than oth­er trays far from it. For this rea­son, it is chal­leng­ing to achieve even dehy­dra­tion of food in the oth­er trays.

Strength of Vertical-Flow Dehydrator Construction

  • You can expand this food dehy­dra­tor by adding more trays to dry a large amount of food at a go.
  • Most mod­els of these dehy­dra­tors are affordable.
  • It does not take up a large kitchen space since it is com­pact and small.
  • The mod­el is suit­able for del­i­cate food­stuff like herbs.
  • They are sold in dif­fer­ent shapes which a cus­tomer can choose from.

Weaknesses of Vertical-Flow Dehydrator Construction

  • Not suit­able for some food which requires a lot of heat like meat.
  • It requires fre­quent check­ing and tray rotation.
  • It leads to the mix­ing of food fla­vors due to the ver­ti­cal move­ment of hot air.

Horizontal-Flow Dehydrator

A Hor­i­zon­tal-flow dehy­dra­tor is also called a shelf food dehy­dra­tor. The fan of this dehy­dra­tor type mod­el is mount­ed in the back sec­tion of the appli­ance. This brings out the major dif­fer­ence that dis­tin­guish­es it from the ver­ti­cal-flow dehy­dra­tor. It is com­mon­ly used by peo­ple who are quite busy since it does not require fre­quent checking.

How Horizontal-Flow Dehydrator Works

Since the heat source of this mod­el is at the rear pan­el, the hot air flows from the back­side to the front end of the unit via food trays. The fan of this dehy­dra­tor blows hot air uni­form­ly across the hor­i­zon­tal trays where the food is. Food in all the trays receives heat even­ly; hence fre­quent inspec­tion is not very essen­tial. For uni­form and bet­ter spread­ing of hot air, some dehy­dra­tors of this kind have two fans.

Strength of Horizontal-Flow Dehydrator Construction

  • It is has­sle-free and easy to use.
  • It is suit­able for dehy­drat­ing hard food like jerky meat and fish.
  • Unlike ver­ti­cal-flow dehy­dra­tors, food par­ti­cles can­not enter the fans.
  • Pro­vide a larg­er dry­ing space.
  • Food fla­vors are least like­ly to mix.

Weaknesses of Horizontal-Flow Dehydrator Construction

  • One can­not add more trays to expand it.
  • It is larg­er and less com­pact hence take more counter space.
  • It is more expen­sive com­pared to the ver­ti­cal-flow dehydrator.

Dehydrators with Temperature Control

Some food dehy­dra­tors fea­ture the ther­mo­stat while some usu­al­ly basic ones come with­out a tem­per­a­ture con­trol sys­tem. How­ev­er, it is a very impor­tant fea­ture because dif­fer­ent food types require a spe­cif­ic tem­per­a­ture for effi­cient dehydration.

Most of the dehy­dra­tor’s ther­mostats have a tem­per­a­ture range of 90ᵒF-160ᵒF. The ther­mostats allow the user to choose the tem­per­a­ture to use depend­ing on the food type to dry. For instance, del­i­cate herbs require a low­er tem­per­a­ture rang­ing from 90ᵒ F‑100ᵒF, while meat requires a high­er tem­per­a­ture of up to 160ᵒF. Set­ting the tem­per­a­ture at a high range while dry­ing meat, ensure effec­tive con­trol of pathogens and bac­te­ria in the meat. Dehy­drat­ing fruits and veg­etable at a low­er tem­per­a­ture range (125–140 degrees Fahren­heit) pre­serves enzymes and nutri­ents which are high­ly sen­si­tive to high temperature.

Besides, the ther­mo­stat is an essen­tial fea­ture for raw food­ist users. Because the raw food pre­serves the enzymes and nutri­tion­al val­ues of raw food if it was dehy­drat­ed at the tem­per­ate below 46 F. Even if your dehy­dra­tor has an accu­rate dehy­drat­ing ther­mome­ter, this cat­e­go­ry of food dehy­dra­tor users con­firm the tem­per­a­ture using a dig­i­tal thermometer.

Dehydrators With Timer

The Timer is anoth­er fea­ture that is not present in all food dehy­dra­tor mod­els. Ver­sions of dehy­dra­tors with a timer can be handy, espe­cial­ly to peo­ple who are occu­pied most of the time. A timer will auto­mat­i­cal­ly switch off the dehy­dra­tor in their absence. Most timer ver­sions have an hour range of 12–99 hours. On the oth­er hand, it is vital to note that the timer may not always be accu­rate since oth­er fac­tors influ­ence the dehy­dra­tion of food. There­fore, you should be very con­ver­sant and famil­iar with the dura­tion at which spe­cif­ic food items will take to dehydrate.

Electricity Consumption

Gen­er­al­ly, elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion can vary much among dif­fer­ent dehy­dra­tor mod­els. The total pow­er usage of most home dehy­dra­tors ranges from 300‑1000 watts. Besides, oth­er fac­tors can deter­mine their pow­er con­sump­tion. For instance, the sur­round­ing envi­ron­ment will deter­mine the lev­el of this rate. If your dehy­dra­tor is run­ning in icy sur­round­ings dur­ing a cold sea­son, it may end up con­sum­ing slight­ly more pow­er. This can be due to the cool­ing effect of wind or humid­i­ty in the envi­ron­ment. How­ev­er, a dehy­dra­tor run­ning in a warm sur­round­ing will con­sume slight­ly less elec­tri­cal pow­er. The oth­er fac­tor is the size and the amount of humid­i­ty of the batch in the dehy­dra­tor. A large humid batch may require slight­ly more ener­gy to dry. Both the num­ber and the size of fans of a mod­el can also deter­mine pow­er consumption.

Noise Level

Due to the pres­ence of a fan/fans in a dehy­dra­tor, noise is a typ­i­cal fac­tor to con­sid­er before pur­chas­ing a dehy­dra­tor. For those who are more sen­si­tive to loud sounds or those liv­ing in noise-sen­si­tive areas, a qui­eter dehy­dra­tor is an essen­tial option. Less noisy mod­els will be of great help to those with lim­it­ed space in their homes since they might not have an extra room to store it. Addi­tion­al­ly, noisy mod­els can be kept in the laun­dry room or the garage.

Summary

When­ev­er you decide to pur­chase a dehy­dra­tor, it is wise to con­sid­er the above fac­tors to enable you to pick one that suits your needs. For exam­ple, you can select a ver­ti­cal-flow dehy­dra­tor if you need to dehy­drate del­i­cate herbs or if you have lim­it­ed space in your room. Also, check on fac­tors like a timer-ver­sion dehy­dra­tor or even the price. Depend­ing on where you live or your noise sen­si­tiv­i­ty, you can choose one that fits your environment’s noise tol­er­ance. By con­sid­er­ing such fac­tors, you are guar­an­teed the most excel­lent mod­el accord­ing to your desire.

Posted in Dehydrators

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