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Food Dehydrator Buyer’s Guide

on April 24, 2024

Welcome to our comprehensive dehydrator buying guide! In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about food dehydrators, from understanding what they are and their benefits to how to choose the best food dehydrator for your needs. Whether you’re a seasoned dehydrator enthusiast or new to the world of food dehydration, this guide will provide valuable insights to help you make informed decisions.


What is a dehydrator?

A dehydrator is an indispensable kitchen tool that delicately extracts moisture from food using gentle heat (typically 85-160°F) and airflow, effectively prolonging the shelf life of fruits, vegetables, meats, and herbs by hindering bacterial growth. This meticulous process, which spans hours or days, not only reduces food waste by allowing the preservation of surplus garden produce or excess groceries but also offers versatility through various models such as horizontal and vertical flow designs, complete with adjustable temperature settings and convenient accessories like fruit roll sheets and mesh screens.

Notably, food dehydrator machines are lauded for their energy efficiency in comparison to conventional ovens. The resulting lightweight, shelf-stable fare is perfect for outdoor adventures or emergency provisions, making the dehydrator an invaluable ally in naturally preserving a diverse array of fresh foods.


What are the benefits of a dehydrater?

The key benefits of using a dehydrator are:

  1. Dehydrated foods retain up to 100% of the fiber, minerals, and most vitamins like A and C compared to fresh foods.
  2. Dehydrated foods can last 30 years or more when stored properly, much longer than canned or frozen foods.
  3. Dehydrated foods do not contain any added chemicals or preservatives.
  4. Dehydrated foods are lightweight, compact, and more affordable compared to fresh or frozen options.
  5. Dehydrated foods take up minimal space and don't require refrigeration or electricity to store.
  6. The low moisture content makes dehydrated foods less susceptible to bacterial growth and spoilage.
  7. The dehydration process intensifies the natural flavors of fruits, vegetables, and meats.
  8. Dehydrated foods are higher in fiber, which can aid digestion and prevent related health issues.
  9. The concentrated calories and nutrients in dehydrated foods can provide a more effective energy boost.
  10. Dehydrators can be used to make a wide variety of foods like jerky, fruit leathers, granola, and even yogurt.


What types of food can be dehydrated?

A diverse range of foods can be effectively dehydrated using a dehydrator appliance, including fruits like apples, bananas, and cherries, as well as vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and onions. Lean meats like beef and chicken, along with fish and jerky, are also suitable for dehydration.

Additionally, sauces and syrups like jam, pizza sauce, and maple syrup, as well as various herbs like basil and rosemary, can be successfully dehydrated. Other items like yogurt and pet food are also candidates for dehydration. However, foods high in fat or oil may not dehydrate well and are generally not recommended for this process.


How to choose the best food dehydrator?

  1. Wattage: Look for a model with 400 watts or more, as higher wattage means more efficiency and faster drying times.
  2. Adjustable Thermostat: An adjustable thermostat that allows you to set temperatures from 105°F to 165°F is important, as different foods require different drying temperatures.
  3. Fan and Heating Element Placement: Models with a rear-mounted fan allow for more even air circulation across all the trays, resulting in more consistent drying.
  4. Capacity: Consider the number of trays and total drying space. Taller, stackable models can expand capacity, while box models with square trays offer up to 20% more drying area.
  5. Timer and Auto Shut-Off: These features allow you to leave the dehydrator unattended while it runs, providing convenience and safety.
  6. Excalibur is a highly recommended and trusted brand among dehydrator users, though more affordable options like Nesco and Elite Gourmet also perform well.
  7. Look for simple controls, sturdy construction, and features that make loading/unloading the trays easy.
  8. Noise Level: Consider how much noise the dehydrator makes, especially if you plan to run it while sleeping or working.

By considering these key factors, you can choose the best food dehydrator to meet your specific needs in terms of capacity, speed, convenience, and budget.


Types of dehydrators

There are primarily four types of food dehydrators available on the market:

  1. Stackable Tray Dehydrators: These dehydrators consist of trays that stack on top of each other, with the heating element and fan located either at the bottom or the top of the stack. They are usually more affordable and compact, making them suitable for small kitchens or occasional use. However, they may require rotating the trays during the drying process to ensure even drying.
  2. Vertical Airflow Dehydrators: Also known as box or shelf dehydrators, these models feature a vertical airflow system where the fan and heating element are typically located at the back of the unit. This design promotes more even drying across all trays without the need for tray rotation. Vertical airflow dehydrators often offer larger capacities and faster drying times compared to stackable tray dehydrators, making them ideal for frequent or large-batch dehydration.
  3. Horizontal Airflow Dehydrators: These dehydrators feature a horizontal airflow system, where the fan and heating element are positioned either on the side or the back of the unit. Horizontal airflow ensures consistent air circulation and even drying throughout the unit, eliminating the need for tray rotation. Horizontal airflow dehydrators are popular for their efficiency and uniform drying results, making them suitable for various types of foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, and herbs.
  4. Solar Dehydrators: Solar dehydrators utilize sunlight to generate heat for the dehydration process, making them eco-friendly and cost-effective to operate. They are often constructed with simple designs using materials like glass or plastic to trap heat and facilitate airflow. Solar dehydrators are particularly useful in areas with ample sunlight and are ideal for off-grid or sustainable living situations. However, they may have slower drying times compared to electric dehydrators, and their effectiveness can be influenced by weather conditions.

Each type of dehydrator has its advantages and considerations, so it's essential to assess your specific needs, budget, and available space to determine which type best suits your requirements.



In conclusion, a dehydrator is a versatile and invaluable tool that offers numerous benefits for preserving food and enhancing your culinary adventures. Whether you’re an avid gardener looking to make the most of your harvest or a health-conscious individual seeking nutritious snacks on the go, a food dehydrator is sure to become a beloved addition to your kitchen.

Visit us today to explore our range of products and take the first step toward culinary excellence. Let Vancouver Restaurant Supply be your partner in culinary success!