The Best Food Dehydrator of 2016
Dehydrating food is by far one of the best ways to prep for a crisis. When you dehydrate food, you allow it to go longer without spoiling. That’s why I recommend learning how to do it. In a previous article, I talked about the basics of dehydrating food. In this article, I’m going to show you the best food dehydrator that you can buy today. From beef jerky to dried apricots, you’ll have the ability to make a variety of foods with a relatively long shelf life. We’ll start by talking about what a food dehydrator is, followed by the best ones on the market.
What is a Food Dehydrator?
A food dehydrator is basically a box (usually made from plastic or metal) that passes hot air through food. In doing so, it reduces the moisture content within them. As the moisture disappears, so does all the microorganisms. Once there is no more fungi or bacteria left in the food, it’s able to go much longer without spoiling. Believe it or not, the water content food can make up about 75% of its weight. That’s where the best food dehydrator comes into play- it allows you to remove just enough water from the food so that it won’t go bad. Let’s look at two popular types of dehydrators- stacked and box-and-shelf models.
Stacked food dehydrators have trays that stack on top of each other snugly. The fan in these units usually sit at the base, but can sometimes be found on top as well. The trays in a stacked food dehydrator have holes in their centers that form a core channel designed to channel air.
Heat is pushed alongside the outer walls of the dehydrator, followed by across each tray to the center channel, where it eventually exits the unit. Basically, this design allows air to move evenly across all the trays. Why is this useful? Well, it makes it unnecessary to have to rotate the trays while you are drying. Their main benefit is that they offer efficient capacity and are flexible. Also, since you can add and remove trays, it’s possible to accommodate both large and small batches.
The other main type of dehydrator that you’ll encounter is the box-and-shelf model. With this type of dehydrator, the trays are shelves which slide in and out of the unit. Keep in mind that the airflow system in this model is different than the previous one.
Specifically, box-and-shelf dehydrators have a fan and heating element that’s located in the rear of the unit. From here, the air is blown horizontally across the shelves towards the front of the dehydrator. The key benefit to this model is that even drying is achieved, and so the trays won’t need to be rotated. Since the number of trays in this model are limited, there isn’t as much flexibility associated with hit. However, you can remove some trays if you need to dry larger items (sort of like an oven).
Food Dehydrator Buying Guide – What to Look For
Before showing you the best food dehydrator of 2016, I want to show you what to look for in a quality unit. That way, you can feel confident knowing you’ve bought a reliable model. Here are some factors to keep in mind when shopping for a food dehydrator:
- Size: The first question you should ask yourself is, “How much counter space do it have?” If you have limited space, then a stacked model is probably the better choice (since the racks can be stacked on top of each other). If space isn’t an issue, then a box-and-shelf model can be a good idea. But this is just the first factor to keep in mind when shopping for the best food dehydrator.
- Passage of Air: If you have a stacked model dehydrator, there’s a chance you’ll experience uneven heating if rack levels exceed 10 or so. You’ll probably find yourself frequently rotating racks to prevent your foods from over-drying. If you have the funds (and space), I’d recommend investing in a large box-and-shelf unit. They’ll provide more even drying since the fan is located in the rear rather than on top.
- Build Quality: Food dehydrators are made from either plastic or metal. If plastic, make sure that the unit has FDA-certified food grade plastic. It should have been tested to ensure that no plastic fumes are produced when heated. Generally speaking, plastic units tend to wear down more quickly than metal ones. As a result, it might be a good idea to invest in a metal food dehydrator if you have the extra funds.
- Price: When shopping for the best food dehydrator, you should think about how much you’re willing to spend. Stacked models tend to cost less than $75 while box-and-shelf models tend to cost between $200 and $350. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. If you’re a beginner, or if you’re on a budget, it might be a good idea to start with an inexpensive model first, then moving up once you’ve become more experienced.
If you’ve never purchased a food dehydrator before, chances are good that you’re overwhelmed by the hundreds of available options. In the following sections, I’ll help narrow down your selection and show you, what I think, are the best ones you can buy. I’ll show you the best food dehydrator of 2016, as well as some other models that come close.
Nesco Snackmaster Pro Dehydrator
With this dehydrator, you’ll be able to dry vegetables, fruits, and jerky in a matter of hours (not days). That unit’s signature “Converga-Flow” drying system is exceptionally good at providing fast, nutritious drying. You won’t need to worry about flavors mixing, nor will you need to worry about rotating the unit’s trays.
Since this is a top-mounted unit, the liquids from the foods won’t fall into the heating chamber and ruin your dehydrator. The Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator has a temperature range of 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it only comes with five trays, it has the ability to hold up to 12. It’s very close to being the best food dehydrator that you can buy. It even comes with a 52-page recipe and instruction book, which should help newbies get started.
Presto Dehydro Dehydrator
This is a great model for a few reasons. First, it’s cost effective. While its price will fluctuate from the time you read this, expect to pay about $35 for the Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator. That’s an excellent bargain in my opinion. The unit’s four-tray system will allow you to dehydrate food at a fraction of the cost of commercial dehydrated foods (without preservatives or additives).
The best food dehydrator should come with a see-through cover for monitoring the drying process, and that’s exactly what this model offers. The unit’s bottom-mounted fan will provide consistent air flow, ensuring optimal drying. The drying trays are dishwasher safe, and you can expand up to eight to increase capacity. This food dehydrator currently has a 4.5 out of 5 rating on Amazon, making it one of the best ones for newbies and experienced dehydrators alike.
NutriChef Kitchen Dehydrator
What you’ll love about the NutriChef Kitchen Dehydrator is its simplicity. Simply place your foods onto the trays, hit the switch, and watch the magic happen. This model works effectively at removing moisture from food so that you won’t need to worry about spoiling. This model is recommended since it retains up to 97% of nutritional value of your foods.
This means that once dried, your food will retain all their original vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, the one-touch button makes using it a breeze. For complete newbies, it’s the best food dehydrator money can buy. It can reach a maximum of 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and comes with 6-tier trays for enhanced airflow. If you’re going to taking prepping seriously, it’s a great model to invest in for allowing you to enhance the shelf life of your foods.
Waring Pro Professional Dehydrator
The Waring Pro Professional Dehydrator is perfect for dehydrating a wide range of foods, including pineapples, oranges, bananas, jerky, and apples. This model will perfectly dehydrate anything you put inside it. On the unit’s high setting, you can dry cherry tomatoes or grapes in as little as 2-3 hours while apples dry in as little as four hours.
The shapes of the trays are nice and are easy to clean too. From aesthetic standpoint, the Waring Pro Professional Dehydrator gets an A+. It’s a little more expensive than some of the previous models on this list, but it is well worth it in my opinion. It comes very close to being the best food dehydrator you can buy. Even if you’re an absolute beginner, you’ll have no problem handling this machine.
Best Food Dehydrator – Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator
This 9-tray food dehydrator offers 15 square feet of drying space, which is a considerable amount. It comes with an adjustable thermostat, a built-in on/off switch, and a flexible poly-screen tray insert (which helps prevent foods from sticking).
Why is the Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator the best food dehydrator of 2016? Well, there are a few reasons. First, it has an impressive thermostat range of 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the thermostat is located in the rear of the unit, you won’t need to worry about food drippings from falling on and ruining the fan. Here are some other benefits to know:
- 9 Trays
- 15 Square Feet of Drying Space
- 26-Hour Timer
- Adjustable Thermostat
- No Tray Rotation Required
- 7-Inch, 600-Wat Fan
- Made in the United States
Finally, it comes with Excalibur’s signature Parallex Horizontal Airflow technology, which will help food dehydrate faster without losing its nutritional content. I’m warning you- it’s more expensive than the other models on this list. But it’s well worth it, especially if you’re serious about prepping for the long-term. It currently has a 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon, making it the best food dehydrator of 2016.
Best Food Dehydrator – Bottom Line
There are hundreds of more models where that came from. I simply wanted to show you some of the better ones on the market today. Remember, when shopping for the best food dehydrator, you want to make sure that it fits your budget, accommodates your spacing needs, and doesn’t remove excess nutritional value from food. By choosing the right model, you’ll be able to increase the shelf life of everyday foods thus, increasing your chances of survival during a crisis.