Food dehydration is an ancient technique used to dry your favourite fruits and vegetables, preserving them for a long period of time. Of course, there was canning and pickling also in play but that wasn’t until many years later. Initially, food preservation was done by laying out foods in the sun, a.k.a, drying them with a solar source. However, today, the technical advancements have penetrated the world of food dehydration and there are a variety of electric food dehydrators available in the market, giving you superior results faster (we’re talking a couple of hours, not even days!). They are in fact amongst the handiest appliances you can have in your kitchen.
Overall, food dehydration is an excellent technique used to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. And the best thing is that you can encourage your children to eat banana chips, dried peaches, and strawberries and they wouldn’t say no, because the texture of dried food is just too hard to resist. There’s also the fact that dried food still contains much of the nutrients and vitamins you find in fresh food, so when we say this method of food preservation has benefits aplenty, we truly mean it.
Food dehydrators on the market are available in a wide range of prices. You can buy any dehydrator according to your needs and budget, quite literally, because some go as low as $40! One of the major factors behind their prices is the type of air flow system. Food dehydrators are available in vertical air flow system and horizontal air flow system. Both systems have their own benefits and downsides. We detail out what is the major difference between them and what are their merits and demerits, to help you determine which dehydrator design is a better match for your needs.
Vertical Flow Dehydrator
Vertical flow dehydrators are typically round and have stackable trays. They have a fan mounted at the bottom or the top of the machine that pushes air through the trays. It has up and down orientation with a heating element also typically mounted at the bottom or top of the machine. Presto 06300 and Waring Pro DHR30 are the most commonly used and affordable vertical flow dehydrators on the market (and they surely pack a punch!).
Now that you know what are vertical flow dehydrators, you’re probably thinking about what features they bring to the table and how these features factor in on the dehydrator process. Well, we’re here to break it down in a very simple pros and cons list.
- These appliances are more affordable than their horizontal counterparts, in fact, most vertical flow dehydrators on the market cost under $100. Now, don’t let the price tag fool you, because they still boast of superlative performance and are more than sufficient for a small family. If you’re on a tight budget, then undoubtedly this is the right dehydrator for you.
- Let’s talk space. Vertical food dehydrators are usually more compact and take up less space on the kitchen countertop than their horizontal counterparts. If you have a small kitchen, you’ll particularly appreciate this. Plus, no one likes to pull heavy kitchen appliances out of cabinets—something you’ll likely end up doing if you opt for a horizontal flow dehydrator without first making space on the kitchen countertop. There’s also the fact that many vertical flow dehydrators get compressed when not in use, making them even easier to store.
- This air flow is more suitable for delicate items such as herbs, strawberries, peaches, fish, and raisins.
- They give excellent results. We mentioned superlative performance, didn’t we? Well, we meant it. While it may not be as strong as what’s offered by horizontal dehydrators, these machines will give you perfectly dried fruits and vegetables without any fuss. Some of these do require you to rotate their trays, but not all.
- The biggest advantage however of these machines is their ease of use. Straightforward and simple to operate, vertical flow dehydrators are ideal for novices.
- These appliances provide uneven distribution of heat. Especially when the fan is mounted at the bottom of appliances. The uneven distribution of heat, makes harder to dehydrate the items like meat jerky, chicken and bananas. Now, that’s not to say you can’t find a vertical flow dehydrator that allows for even drying. In fact, Nesco is a great example, but it’s just something to be cognizant about.
- Their capacity is not as big as that of horizontal dehydrators. Of course, most vertical flow dehydrators are expandable, but even then the capacity doesn’t compare to the shelf-style commercial appliances.
Horizontal Airflow Dehydrator
Horizontal flow dehydrators are have a shelf-like design and are typically square or rectangular. They have a fan mounted in the rear that pushes air through all the trays simultaneously, that allows for even drying. The Magic Mill Commercial dehydrator and Excalibur 3926TB are two popular models. These appliances are useful for those who have a busy routine and need to dry large quantities of food at once. They are also popular for commercial use because of the many pros that we’ve got listed below.
- They provide even distribution of heat across every single tray thanks to the placement of the fan and heating element in the rear of the machine. Due to their even distribution of heat, these appliances are used for drying meat, chicken, as well as tougher fruits and vegetables with ease.
- They boast of powerful performance, and when we say powerful, we truly mean it. You’ll find your food dries much more quickly in these machines—a definite advantage if you’re someone who likes to experiment new recipes or you run low on patience.
- Most horizontal flow dehydrators offer more features than the vertical counterparts. They often include a digital display with options for controlling the temperature and timer for precision drying.
- These are much more suitable for professional use or large family as they have a greater capacity.
- In most horizontal flow dehydrator, the trays don’t have to be rotated and the food is always dried evenly. It is extremely rare that you will come across a model with this design that you can’t set and forget about, coming back to open the unit to perfect results.
- Probably the biggest con for these dehydrators is the hefty price tag. Keep that in mind when considering the machine to buy.
- These dehydrators take up much more space in the kitchen than their vertical counterparts, and they are definitely not as easy to move around.
Overall, both these designs have their own advantages and disadvantages. It truly depends on what you’re looking for and what your needs are.