Last updated on February 19th, 2018 at 11:59 pm
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You are looking for a food dehydrator!
But you want the best food dehydrator for 2018. Right? . We`ve got you covered
Many people are becoming overly cautious of what they eat. I guess that includes you. So you are not alone on this!
Most fruits and veggies that are commercially preserved contain chemicals which are harmful to the body. No wonder food dehydrators are now more and more common to have.
The best food dehydrator allows you whip up your own dried organic treats effortlessly. No additives hence no health implications to wonder about.
Buying a good food dehydrator can be daunting as most people are unfamiliar with this machine.
This food dehydrator reviews, guides, comparison and recommendations will save you lots of time, money and all the worries of getting the wrong product. By the time you get to end of this article, you will be able to choose the best food dehydrator perfect for your needs.
This article or review is written to be informational and provide you with all information you need to decide.
Hence here is a table of content for this guide and review.
What is a Food Dehydrator?
Before we go too far, what exactly is a food dehydrator?
A food dehydrator is an electronic appliance that reduces the water content of food, fruits, veggies etc. It does this by using a heat source and air flow. The main aim of a food dehydrator is to preserve food and make them last during storage.
We bet you’ve enjoyed dried foods like beef and chicken jerky, dried apricots, dried tomatoes, peppers etc. in the past. These are some of the items you can dry and preserve using a food dehydrator.
History of Food Dehydrating
For centuries, humans have always sort different ways to preserve and store food. Surplus food had to be stored for rainy days. From sun drying, drying over a fire to storing food in cold caves, food preservation is an art as old as man.
Depending on location, many people dried their food by leaving it in the sun. In ancient times, people in the Near East dried their food by wrapping them in leaves and burying in hot sand. Native Americans used fire to dry meat, fish, barley, maize etc. The common storage method in the Arctic was burying meat and other food in ice caves to preserve them.
Prickling, freezing, freeze-drying and canning are some other preservation methods that have been used by humans for centuries. The Romans are credited with the invention of prickling. Canning is said to have been used by the French in 18th century Europe.
The history of food dehydration is one that spans millennia. The food dehydrator is a step in the evolution of food preservation methods. No wonder they are gaining more popularity.
How does a Food Dehydrator Work
The food dehydrator already sounds great. We bet you already have plans for it. But how exactly does it carry out the mini-miracle of organically dried food?
A typical food dehydrator is made up of the following:
A heating element
This is usually powered by electricity, solar energy or gasoline. The heating element warms the food causing it to release moisture contained within it. The heating element works in conjunction with the other parts to properly dehydrate food.
Fans and Vents
The moist air released when the heating element warms up the food is removed via the vents. The fan blows the moist air out of the dehydrator through the vents.
This is where the food to be dried is placed. The removal of moisture continues till the food is properly dried.
Why Use a Food Dehydrator?
The food dehydrator sounds like a fascinating appliance to keep at home. But why should you go through the stress of buying and using one. Here’s why:
Longer preservation time: When you use a food dehydrator, you extend the shelf life of the food you dried by many months.
More storage space: A dehydrator may take up space but it significantly reduces the size of food. This allows you store more food in a small area.
Eat healthier: Dehydrators allow you create healthier food. Dehydrated food has no need of preservatives, sugar or salt. And you get all the nutrients found in the fresh food in your dehydrated food.
Flexible Use: You can decide to dry a basket of fruit or just a handful of fruits. The dehydrator is quite flexible in its use. Some dehydrators are even portable enough for you move from place to place.
Cost effective: A dehydrator saves you money you will normally spend on commercially dried foods. And it is an even healthier option.
Types of Food Dehydrators
Which kinds of food dehydrators are out there? What are the differences between them?This section will answer that burning question and more.
There are basically two types of food dehydrators:
Stackable Food dehydrators
These dehydrators have racks that are stackable on top of each other. The rack is where food to be dried is placed. The stacks are loaded and then sealed with the cover to prevent heating escaping.
The air flow in the stackable dehydrator is usually vertical with vents around dehydrator. This means the heating element and the fan are on the bottom or top of the dehydrator. And the heat circulates from the bottom to the top or top to bottom.
Stackablefood dehydrators are generally smaller than the box varieties. They are also cheaper than the box dehydrators. They are best used for drying strawberries, fish, herbs, raisins etc.
The only downside to the stackable dehydrator is uneven heating. The stacks at the bottom will dry faster than those closer to the lid. You have to remember to switch stacks if you want even drying.
It is worth noting that some stackable models come with horizontal air flow. The heating element and fan are placed on the side of the food dehydrator. The heat reaches all the stacks equally. Thus, allowing your food to dry evenly.
Box/Shelf Food dehydrators
These dehydrators are shaped like a box and have their trays arranged in a shelf like manner. Just think of the arrangement of an electric oven, that’s almost what a box dehydrator looks like. The trays can be arranged anyway depending on your taste.
The box dehydrators usually have horizontal airflow. This means the fan and the heating element are located at the back of the box. The heat reaches all the trays evenly.
Box dehydrators are better insulated than the stackable models. You can dry a large amount of food at the same time. All kinds of meat, fish, vegetables and fruits can be dried in this type of dehydrator.
The box dehydrator is more expensive than the stackablevariety. They are bulkier and occupy more space. If you have a small space and want the yummy goodness a dehydrator brings, consider a stackable model.
Popular Food Dehydrator Brands
You’ve decided to buy a food dehydrator, but what brand? There are many brands of food dehydrators on the market. Here is a list of some of the most popular and trusted brands out there:
Nesco food dehydrator:This American company has been in the business of manufacturing dehydrators for over 30 years. They are one of the best known brands on the market. Nesco food dehydrators come in both the stackable and box variety. One of their best dehydrators, the FD-61WHC Snackmaster is on our review list. Other products include the FD-1040 Gardenmaster Pro, the FD-37 etc.
Excalibur food dehydrators: This brand has been producing dehydrators since the 1970s. They are best known for their box dehydrators. They also have stackable dehydrators. Popular products from this brand include the 3926TB and 3900B Deluxe which are on our five best food dehydrator reviews list. The stackable ECB50B, the 5-tray 3500B among others are also one of their popular products.
Presto Food Dehydrators: This brand is based in Wisconsin and has been in business for over a century. No wonder they are trusted by many consumers. They manufacture some of the best known food dehydrators in the market. Presto 06301, 06300, 06302 etc. are some of their popular products.
Ronco Food Dehydrator: is another brand that has been around for more than 40 years. They are known for their stackable food dehydrators. Some of their products include the EZ-Store 5 tray food dehydrator, the regular 5 tray dehydrator among others.
Choosing the Best Food Dehydrator for 2018: What You Should Know?
Before you even consider buying a food dehydrator, there are some important factors you must consider. They are below:
The space you have will determine the type of dehydrator you buy. If you only have a counter top free in your home, a stackable dehydrator is your best bet. They take up less space. If you have enough room that can take an electric oven, then the box type food dehydrator should be the best for you.
Size of dehydrator:
You have to consider the quantity of food you will be drying as this will affect the size of dehydrator you buy. If you have a large family, you’re going to be drying more food than a smaller family. A dehydrator with many stacks or trays should be what you’re getting.
The air flow in a dehydrator affects how quick your food will dry. If you’re going to be drying a large quantity of food often, then a dehydrator with vertical air flow will not serve you well.
Dehydrators with vertical air flow cannot handle more than 10 stacks. Horizontal air flow (as in seen in box models) will be better for you if you plan to dry a large quantity of food always.
The material used in making a food dehydrator determines how long it will last. Metals last longer than plastic. Plastic will degrade quicker than metal. So, a food dehydrator made of metal will last longer. The plastic materials in your dehydrator should be BPA free.
A timer is an important accessory to have on a dehydrator. Go for brands that come with a timer. This is because the dehydrator will shut off by itself when the time you set has elapsed. This saves you all the stress of checking your dehydrating food especially at night.
Like all appliances, food dehydrators make noise. Your food dehydrator shouldn’t be louder than your refrigerator. Go for brands that are known for making quiet dehydrators or simply choose a product with lower Decibels.
The standard warranty on most good food dehydrators is one year. Some brands have warranties of two years and above. Save money on repairs by going for brands that have longer warranty. If you buy from Amazon, please make sure to understand their return policy.
You’re ready to check out the dehydrators that made our best food dehydrators list out of the many we compared and tested.
Here we go!
The FIVE Best Food Dehydrator Reviews for 2018
1, Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator Review
Excalibur is renowned for making the best food dehydrators on the market. The Excalibur 3926TB is one of the best known products. We will tell you why.
The Excalibur 3926TB is a box dehydrator that comes with 15 square feet of drying space. It comes with 9 trays and it can hold a maximum of 15 trays. The 3926TB also comes with an adjustable thermostat which can be found on the back.
The power on the 3926TB is 600 Watts. This model is rated at 110 to 120 volts. The ON/OFF switch can be found near the thermostat at the back of the dehydrator.
Weighing 22 lbs with a dimension of 19 x 17 x 12.5 inches, the 3926TB is not as light as we expected. It has 7” inch fan for proper circulation of hot air and drying. The polyscreen tray inserts to prevent food from sticking are a nice bonus.
Its 26 hour timer is one of the best features of the Excalibur 3926TB. It has a temperature range of 105˚F to 165˚F. This makes the Excalibur 3926TB perfect for drying all kinds of fruits, veggies, meat, herbs, pottery etc.
The 3926TB is an excellent dehydrator, perfect for almost any kind of drying. But we found it to be a little too loud. You have to place this in another room with the doors shut to have a normal conversation.
The noise level is a trade-off for the many features of this dehydrator. If you have a large family, lots of food to dry, a big garden or you’re into arts and crafts, the Excalibur 3926TB should be number one on your list of the best food dehydrators to consider.
2, Nesco FD-61WHC Food Dehydrator Review
The Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC is second on our best food dehydrator reviews list. This dehydrator is another great product from a quality brand.
Here’s the reason we love it.
The FD-61WHC is a stackable food dehydrator. It comes with 5 trays. You can increase the number of trays on the FD-61WHC to 12.
The power of the Nesco FD-61WHC is rated at 500 Watts. This dehydrator comes with a jerky gun, 3 tips, 5 cures and 5 seasons. Talk about value for your money, here you got it.
The FD-61WHC is really compact at 8.8lbs and has a dimension of 13 x 11 x 13 inches. If you have any need to carry your dehydrator around, you won’t even notice toting this little guy. Also, the two clean screens for drying small items and sticky fruits are a nice touch.
We love how easy it is to clean this unit. All parts of the dehydrator are dish washer safe except the cover which contains the heating element and fan. Also, you can hardly hear this dehydrator when it’s working.
Nesco FD-61WHC has an adjustable temperature knob. It temperature ranges from 95˚F to 155˚F. This means it can handle drying fruits, herbs, meat (all kinds!), veggies and more.
We really love the FD-61WHC but we hate that it lacks a timer. We just had to keep checking our dehydrating fruit. Also, there is no ON/OFF switch. You would expect it to have an automatic start and stop mechanism since it lacks physical switch, but that is also lacking.
All in all, the Nesco FD-61WHC is a great stackable dehydrator. If you’re an outdoor enthusiasts or a vegan trying out raw food, the FD-61WHC has definitely got you covered.
3, Presto 06301 Food Dehydrator Review
The 06301 is another quality food dehydrator from Presto. Want to know why it makes it to our best food dehydrator reviews list? Keep on reading.
The Presto 06301 is a stackable dehydrator with a vertical air flow (bottom to top). It comes with 6 trays. You can as much as 6 more trays, making it 12. We absolutely love the see through cover. This satisfies our urge of checking on our drying fruit.
The power on the Presto 06301 is 750 Watts. This dehydrator can safely be used at 120 volts. The 06301 comes with two fruit roll sheets and two non-stick mesh screen trays.
The 06301 is very portable food dehydrator. It weighs just 8.5 lbs and has a dimension of 14.5 x 15 x 7.2 inches. It bottom mounted fan and heating element gets the job done quickly.
The temperature range of the 06301 is 90˚F to 165˚F. The digital thermostat and timer which shuts off the dehydrator are features we really love. The four starter jerky spice and cure packs are a thoughtful addition.
Overall, the Presto 06301 is a wonderful addition to any kitchen. The noise level is one major downside we noticed during use. It is best to keep this dehydrator in a place that has a door to help with the noise reduction.
Presto 06301 is a good dehydrator with amazing features. If you’re going to making jerky, drying fruits, herbs and veggies in large quantity, the 06301 is another dehydrator you should absolutely get.
4, Excalibur 3900B Food Dehydrator Review
Excalibur 3900B is another quality dehydrator from Excalibur. It comes in fourth on our food dehydrator review. Let’s tell you what we love and hate about this dehydrator.
The 3900B is a box dehydrator with 15 square feet of drying space. It comes with 9 trays. You can increase this number to 15. Talk about getting more done at once.
This dehydrator is rated at 600 Watts. The 3900B food dehydrator comes with an adjustable thermostat, which can be found at the back of the dehydrator.
Weighing 22lbs with a dimension of 19 x 17 x 12.5 inches, the 3900B is not the lightest of dehydrators. It comes with 7” inch fan for proper circulation of hot air and drying. The polyscreen tray inserts to prevent food from sticking are a great touch.
The 3900B has a built in ON/OFF switch. Its temperature range is 105˚F to 165˚F. This makes this dehydrator perfect for drying all kinds of fruits, veggies, meat, herbs, pottery etc.
Though the Excalibur 3900B works like a dream. A few things were off for us though. The noise level is not ideal. You definitely need to place this dehydrator behind a door.
The lack of a timer is another thing we didn’t like about this unit. This means you always have to check whatever you’re drying. The lack of automatic shut off is also worrying.
The Excalibur 3900B is a great food dehydrator. If you have a large family or a big garden, the Excalibur 3900B is the perfect dehydrator to handle all your needs.
5, Aroma 6-Tray Food Dehydrator Review
At number 5 on our best food dehydrator list is the Aroma 6-tray dehydrator. Although it is last on our list, the Aroma food dehydrator is definitely not the least.
The Aroma dehydrator is a box dehydrator. It comes with 6 trays. It even comes with a drip tray to check any run offs that may occur while you’re dehydrating.
The power on this dehydrator is 400 Watts. The see through door is just perfect for checking on your dehydrating food. If you have OCD tendencies like some of us here, you would appreciate this feature a lot.
For a box dehydrator, the Aroma dehydrator is very light and quiet. It weighs just 11.7 lbs with a dimension of 17.7 x 13.6 x 12.4 inches. It even has a 7 temperature setting.
The temperature range of the Aroma dehydrator is 95˚F to 155˚F. From trail mix to jerky, this dehydrator can handle just about anything. This dehydrator comes with an adjustable thermostat.
One of the best things about this dehydrator is the position of the fan. You get both horizontal and vertical airflow. The Aroma dehydrator has a fan at the back and on top of its unit. Talk about getting the best of both worlds.
Our only major issue with this dehydrator is the lack of a timer and by extension, an automatic shut off. If we were using this at night, we would have to set an alarm to wake us up so we can put it off. Yikes!
Other than that, the Aroma 6-tray food dehydrator works great. If you’re an outdoor hobbyist or just plain health conscious, the Aroma food dehydrator is one you definitely should go for.
Food Dehydrator Comparison Table
|Excalibur 3926TB||Nesco FD-61WHC||Presto 06301||Excalibur 3900B||Aroma 6-tray dehydrator|
|Temperature range (˚F)||105 to 165||95 to 155||90 to 165||105 to 165||95 to 155|
|Maximum number of trays||15||12||12||15||6|
|Air flow type||Horizontal||Vertical||Vertical||Horizontal||Horizontal &Vertical|
|Dimension (inches)||19 x 17 x 12.5||13 x 11 x 13||14.5 x 15 x 7.2||19 x 17 x 12.5||17.7 x 13.6 x 12.4|
|Warranty||10 years||1 year||1 year||10 years||5 years|
Here is a quick recap of our review or recommendation:
- The best food dehydrator for jerky or generally any food item is the Excalibur 3926TB. You can make many batches at once. And all your jerky dries up fast and evenly.
- If you want the best food dehydrator with low noise, the Aroma 6-tray food dehydrator is your best bet. It has a wider temperature range and can accommodate making things like yoghurt.
- If you want the best food dehydrator for fruits, snacks, then go for the Nesco FD-61WHC. It comes with enough accessories to cater to your fruit drying needs.
Ok. You’ve got a good food dehydrator. Here is some more useful information:
Tips for using a Food Dehydrator
Here are a few tips to help you as you start your food dehydration journey:
- Ensure there is proper ventilation around your dehydrator. This is because your dehydrator requires proper air circulation to work.
- Avoid drying foods with different flavours as they may overlap. Example: don’t dry sweet fruits with sour ones.
- Don’t heap too much fruits or food on one tray. Spread them out evenly.
- Don’t dehydrate any food or fruit that is spoilt. The food will not keep as it is already spoilt.
Limitations of Food Dehydrator
Your food dehydrator may sound like a home appliance messiah sent to rescue you from eating personally preserved foods and fruits. It is but with certain limitations.
- Onion, garlic and ginger powders cannot be perfectly made with your home dehydrator. Only commercial dehydrators can make that.
- If you wish to dry spices like pepper, garlic, ginger etc., it is best you take your dehydrator outside as spices release pungent smells that can overwhelm your house.
- Food containing a high amount of fats cannot be dehydrated properly. This is because dehydration only removes water content not fat.
You’ve gotten to the end of this guide. We hope we’ve armed you with enough knowledge to buy the best food dehydrator you can get.
Have further questions? Leave us a message in the comment section and we’d get back to you.