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The Fabulous Food Dehydrator Series Part. 3: How to Choose a Food Dehydrator

Fabulous Food Dehydrator Series ButtonYou may know by now that you want to own a food dehydrator. You know how they work, you have an idea of what you can make in them, now how do you know which one to buy? With so many models to choose from, the decision of purchasing one can be overwhelming and intimidating. It can help if you are armed with prior knowledge, so that you can make an informed purchase and get the right dehydrator for your needs first time. Below, you will find some helpful hints on how to choose a food dehydrator. You don’t need to venture far, since retailers such as Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Khol’s, and Amazon all carry a vast variety of dehydrators.

There are a few factors you will want to keep in mind when choosing a food dehydrator, almost a checklist if you will. Take a peek and consider each one carefully before making any purchases. These are the most important elements to consider when buying a food dehydrator.

Horizontal or Stacking

Do you want a dehydrator that has stacking trays or horizontal shelves like a conventional oven?

A stacking tray dehydrator usually has a heating element and fan at its base which blows warmed air upwards through a stack of drying trays. For those who are more budget conscious, this model is typically less expensive. Stacking dehydrators also offer expandable trays. Just add trays and you have a bigger dehydrator!

With horizontal, they usually have one or more fans and heating elements. Therefore, they may use a tad more power. They usually have between 5 and 10 trays, so choose one that gives the largest drying area that you think you are likely to need. Another perk? Horizontal airflow also means that dehydrator is more suited to drying wet ingredients or mixes, purees and liquids.

If possible, find a dehydrator with a timer

Dehydrating drying times vary. However, if you have a particular recipe a timer can be handy. If you more are likely to be around and monitor the progress of the recipe, you won’t need a timer. However if you are a fix it and forget it kind of cook, a timer may be very helpful for you. Think about what your needs will be and how a timer can make the process easier for you!

Consider power consumption

Chances are, one of the reasons you are dehydrating food is to save money. So therefore you don’t want to pay for gobs of electricity every time you power your dehydrator up. Luckily, most models are rather efficient. To save on energy, consider how much you will be dehydrating. Do you plan on drying huge batches of a product or just small batches at a time? Remember that a bigger batch of ingredients will cause the machine to work harder and use more energy. If you only ever want to dry small batches, then a smaller dehydrator will be a bit more easy on the fuel bill.

Opt for a warranty

A food hydrator is an investment just like a microwave or stereo. You should always purchase one that gives you the option of a warranty card to send in. You never know when the macine might default, so having a warranty will help you protect your investment. This is especially true if you buy a pricey model or plan on drying large batches. You will want to have some assistance should your product malfunction. Always ask the salesperson or consult the packaging for warranty information so you can buy with confidence.

Consider an adjustable thermostat.

The thermostat can be used to set and maintain an even temperature when drying your food. A typical range an adjustable thermostat is 95 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Why is this important? This is important because the recommended settings for each major food type vary. The adjustable thermostat can help you dry your food to perfection each and every time!

Don’t forget to consider capacity

As you compare brands, you will notice that one of the biggest differences between food dehydrators is capacity. Smaller dehydrators will have 3-4 square feet of drying capacity. Medium sized units will have about 5-9 sq. ft. Your large units will have 10 sq. ft. or more. Again, you will want to consider how much you will be using your machine. Will you be the only one using it? Will your children want to use it? Will you use it to make big batches? Daily? Weekly? Answer these questions and pick a size to fit your needs. If you are unsure, opt for a mid size model.

As you can see, choosing the perfect food dehydrator does not need to be rocket science. You just have to ask yourself these questions and scope out your options. You will want to consider your needs and the needs of your family, what recipes you are considering, and how frequently you will be using it. By knowing this, you can make an informed purchase and find a model that works for you!

As with any appliance purchase, opt for the warranty as mentioned but also save your receipt! If you get the product home and pull it out only to realize it is too big, small, complicated, etc. you can return it and exchange it. You want to make sure you buy a product you will use!

So happy shopping, and may you find the perfect food dehydrator!

In case you missed the others in the Fabulous Food Dehydrator Series.

So What Exactly Can You Make?
What is Food Dehydrator All About?




  • Sandy VanHoey

    Not sure my last comment went through. I didn’t realize all this with dehydrators but was glad to see your posting. I have one and want to once again make some beef jerky

    • Brandy

      I love making jerky in mine. While store bought jerky tastes good the flavors are pretty limited. With homemade the flavor possibilities are endless, not to mention cheaper. I would love to hear your recipe.