What Is A Food Dehydrator – How Does It Work And Why Is It So Good For You?

Back in the day, before I self educated myself on healthy eating, I would pack the typical snack foods in my kids lunches. Sugar filled granola bars, artificially colored fruit roll ups and bags of chips were always found in their lunch bags. When I made the decision to no longer buy those unhealthy treats, I had to find ways of making snacks my kids would love, that’s when I discovered the beauty of dehydration. A food dehydrator can either be box shaped or circular stacked and it removes all the moisture from foods which prevents it from going bad and making it last much longer.

How many times have you cleaned out your fridge and tossed tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots cause they were on the verge of going bad? Fresh herbs you haven’t had the chance to use? Bruised fruit that your kids won’t eat and now they are at risk at being thrown out? Why waste food when you can turn those destined for the trash fruits into dried apple or banana chips, that wilted basil or parsley into dried herb that can be used for months in your favorite recipes. Dehydrating food retains nearly 100% of the vitamins and minerals and it’s much cheaper than going out and buying those dried fruits and nuts at the grocery store.

I have included a list of a few food dehydrators, the one I use and a recipe for fruit roll ups that my kids loved!!. Hope you enjoy and happy drying 🙂

The Excalibur – The King Of All Dehydrators

I have had my Excalibur dehydrator for over 10 years now and to say I’ve used it often is an understatement. I’ve made everything from fruit rollups to even raw crackers.

I have the 5 tray but they also come in 10, 9 and 4 tray versions. Although mine doesn’t come with a timer, you can get ones that have either a 26 or 48 hour one. The Excalibur also comes with 600 watts of drying power, poly screen tray inserts and an adjustable thermostat. You can also purchase paraflex nonstick sheets which I find extremely useful when making fruit roll-ups. The trays in the Excalibur are also removable so you can easily use the inside of it for rising dough or dehydrating larger items. I have used this method several times for my pizza or bread dough. If you are ever in of replacement parts they are very easily found online on the Excalibur website or even Amazon has a great selection.

 

Chefman Food Dehydrator

I haven’t used this one personally but I have read many positive reviews online. It’s a bit cheaper than the Excalibur but by the sounds of it comes close in comparison. This dehydrator comes with 480 Watts of drying power, 14 digital settings and a timer of up to 19.5 hours. It also has BPA free trays, auto shut off and a see through door for easy viewing, for those impatient dryers like myself :). Sounds like a runner-up if you ask me.

 

Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food  Dehydrator

This is a great dehydrator for beginners as it’s less expensive and very easy to use. It comes with an adjustable thermostat for up to 160°F, a top mounted fan and 600 watts of drying power. It comes with 5 trays but you can expand this unit up to 12 trays (sold separately) if you are dehydrating like crazy!! Included with this beauty are 2 Clean-A-Screens and 2 Fruit Roll Sheets. Sounds like a sweet deal to me!!

Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator

This stacked beauty comes with 5 drying trays and 500 watts of power. It also comes with an adjustable thermostat from 100-160°F and a timer with automatic shut off. A clear lid makes it easy to view the yumminess and BPA free food sheets.

Why Use A Dehydrator Over Oven Drying?

Although a dehydrator and an oven both dehydrate foods, using an oven for this can be a little tricky and here’s why. Every oven is different, I have learned this over the years and what is one temperature in one oven isn’t the same in another. There will more than likely be a few trial and errors before finding the right temp and maintaining that temperature which may result in having to prop the oven door opened when drying certain foods. Fruit and vegetables should be dried at a temperature of 120-140°F while meat should be at 140-160°F. Adequate airflow is also neccessary for proper food dehydration as it helps remove the moisture in the air so an oven fan is needed or the oven door will have to be opened often to let the moisture out.
If you ask me, and I know you haven’t but I’m telling you anyways……using a food dehydrator is soooooo much more simpler.
So, with all that said, I hope I have shed some light on dehydrating foods and made the choice easier as to which one to use. Please enjoy trying out the following recipe as it is super yummy, very easy to make and a huge hit with kids!!
Fruit roll ups can be made with fresh or frozen fruit and bruised, overripe fruits too. You can use a mix of several fruits or just one or two types. Honey or agave syrup are both great if added sweetness is needed. Bananas and pineapple are a delicious combination as are bananas and strawberries…heck bananas are good with almost all fruits. The choice is yours, so let’s get on to the recipe. ENJOY!!

 

Fruit Roll Ups

4 cups of fresh fruit washed and pitted/peeled if needed and chopped into chunks
1 1/2 Tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbls of honey or agave

Instructions

Puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth then pour all that yumminess onto the dehydrator trays and dry for about 6-8 hrs at 145°F
Roll the fruit leather into a roll and cut into desired lengths and store in a cool, dark place.
I find it easier if I put the fruit leather onto parchment paper, roll and then cut into desired strips.

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