Drying is an age-old practice that’s used to preserve food. Today, it has been modified by food dehydrators. It takes a long time to dry foods for preservation and long shelf life the traditional way. But in the 21st century, time is precious, work keeps everyone busy, and we much enjoy our (much deserved) Netflix breaks. Thereby, food dehydrators come to our rescue to help preserve food. Food dehydrator is a simple, small kitchen appliance which makes your life easier while saving you not just time but also money. You can dry a variety of foods quickly and easily without losing its nutritional value, including fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood. Not enough? You can also dry spices and herbs in most food dehydrators and make your own fruit leathers and beef jerky. Depending on the versatility you’re seeking, there’s a wide variety of food dehydrators available in the market. You can buy any one of them, which matches your requirements and budget.
So, now you may be wondering how exactly does a food dehydrator work? It’s actually quite simple. Once you place your food in the dehydrator and switch it on, it begins heating up. The heat is produced by a warm air which removes moisture from the food and makes it dry. The fan regulating the warm air may be mounted on the top, bottom, or back of the system depending on the dehydrator you choose. The heat coupled with constant air flow, dehydrates the food which prevents the growth of microorganisms. The lack of bacterial growth decreases the shelf life. The food also becomes light and occupies less space when the moisture is removed. Some foods may even shrink and wrinkle, case in point—apple and kale chips.
Whether you’re a pro or a novice, whether you’re looking for a food dehydrator to grace your kitchen shelf or take along with you on a camping trip, whether you’re looking to make just fruit leathers or a variety of dried foods, the top 3 cheap food dehydrator brands available in the market are given below:
Nesco is one of the most famous and commonly used food dehydrators in the market. Medium sized, it uses 600 watts of power and dries food quickly. The system has a fan, which is mounted at the top for evenly drying foods from top to bottom. However, the food dehydration does require the rotation of trays after regular intervals of time. The rotation save time in the overall drying process, ensuring that you have the end results sooner rather than later. Do not worry though, the flow of air does not lead to mixing of flavours.
Nesco 600-watt food dehydrator is one of the most widely used and well equipped products. It is also the cheapest brand in the market. It has an adjustable thermostat which allows you to control the temperature anywhere from 95°-160° F. Though you may want to keep in mind that this dehydrator does not have an auto switch on and off or timer. It does have 5 durable trays which can be expanded up to 12 trays. The trays can be expanded when a large amount of food is needed to be dried. Trays are circular in design instead of rectangular for convenience. That’s not all, the dehydrator also includes 2 fruit-roll sheets, 2 clean-a-screens, and a sample of jerky seasoning with cure. The dehydrator has an opaque plastic exterior, which blocks the light from foods, helping retain nutrients and vitamins to make the food healthier. If you want to try different recipes, it has a booklet of recipes as well.
Presto is another cheap brand used commonly in the market. If you are a beginner, then you’ll find it to be the perfect match for you. It is smaller than other brands, but easier to use and much more easier to store owing to its compact design. It comes with 4 trays and can be expanded up to 8 trays. The fan is mounted at the bottom to allow for drying food quickly. It does not have a temperature control, instead it operates at approx. 165°. It uses 600 watts of power and requires proper cleaning as well. Though, it is not equipped with a timer or a shut on and off switch. So you’ll have to rely on your personal timer if you want dried food that’s prepared properly. The preset temperature may also limit the variety of foods you’ll be able to prepare.
3. L’Equip 528
L’Equip 528 is a medium capacity food dehydrator that comes with 6 stacking trays that can be expanded to a capacity of 12 trays. It can handle large amounts of food to dry at one time with 1.2 square feet of drying area per tray. The dehydrator is also equipped with 6 mesh screens and 2 fruit leather trays, giving you the option to prepare preserved spices, herbs, and fruit purees without preservatives and sugars. It is energy efficient, using 530 watts of drying power and a bottom mounted fan for even drying. It’s temperature control allows for regulation from 95°-158°, allowing you to prepare a variety of foods with ease and confidence. Though the dehydrator has no time, it has many useful features based on the price point. In fact, it also has a 10-year warranty in case you’re vary about how the machine will fare for you.
If you are a beginner, try one of these 3 food dehydrators for a fun and functional experience. Best of luck!