If you like to indulge in dried meats and fruits, then you probably know how expensive dried foods are. Drying them yourself can help you save a lot of money. A great thing about dehydrators is their ability to dry and cure meat. You could easily make 2 lbs of jerky at half the cost with a dehydrator.
A Brief Introduction
You get to make your own favorite snacks with as little or as much sugar and salt as you would like, and you know exactly what goes into your food. The power of a dehydrator is measured in watts, very similar to that of the light bulb. For example, if you buy a 20 tray device and you only have 500 watts of power, filling the trays at full capacity would result in the food not being dried properly. While on the other hand, if you have a 2 tray device and 1000 watts of power, it would result in over-dried food. Ideally, you should try to focus on batches of around 8-10 trays at 1000 watts.
It is unwise to mix different types of food in the same batch. Different items require different levels of dehydration. Mixing food will lead to some items being under-dried and some being over-dried. Under-dried food is more vulnerable to developing bacteria, which could leave you with an upset stomach after consumption.
Selecting the Right Device
Most of these devices will do the job that they are intended for. However, there are some that are better suited for certain uses than others. When choosing a dehydrator, don't buy one that is overly expensive or too big, especially if you do not need those features. Buy a size that you think you will require most often. Consider how many trays you will use at once. If you only need 2 trays, buy a small device. Look into their prices as well. Don't go for one that is too cheap or too expensive. An expensive device may not suit your needs, while a cheap one may not have enough power to do its job.
There are two basic types―vertical airflow and horizontal airflow. Horizontal airflow dehydrators are preferred. This type does not let the flavors mix when different types of food are placed in the device. The horizontal type also provides an even amount of heat between trays.
The vertical airflow devices can be divided into two categories―the ones with the fan on top and the ones with the fan at the bottom. The one with the fan at the bottom is the best as far as heat distribution is concerned. The only drawback is that the fat drippings make the device difficult to clean.
Size is important depending on how many trays you are planning on using at one go. So, some dehydrators come with external walls that allow for trays to be slipped in and out. These are ideal if you happen to be working with the same amounts of food each time you use the device. Then there are the ones that offer stacked trays. You can even purchase additional trays if you need to expand the size, or you can remove the unwanted trays when necessary.