Like most Americans, when you are in the mood to snack you instantly think of chocolate bars or potato chips. While they are all pretty tasty, they aren’t a healthy way to spend your day munching. You may want to try a food dehydrator and make your own snacks right in your kitchen.
Not only is this healthier, it’s also cheaper in the long run, and you can spend your day snacking on treats like on banana chips, kale chips, and homemade beef jerky. Here are a few tips on what to look for in the best food dehydrator under $100 and a few reviews to help you start shopping.
Benefits of Owning a Food Dehydrator
With a pretty small investment, you can create a healthy lifestyle for you and your family. Not only will you improve your family’s health, you will also help to save money on snacks, and it allows you to enjoy all the produce from your garden all year long.
With dried food, you can retain most of the nutrients from the food allowing you to benefit from many of the same minerals and vitamins you would get if you ate the food fresh. Having a store of dried foods is also a good idea if you live in areas prone to hurricanes or power outages.
Considerations when Buying a Food Dehydrator
Heat Distribution & Air Flow
Keeping your food at a consistent temperature that is high enough to dry out food is a pretty simple scientific concept. The biggest challenge is making sure that the food is heated evenly through the food that is being dried. Having an effective airflow helps to make sure that food items that are the farthest from the heat source will dry at the same rate as the food that is closer.
One of the best designs for drying out the contents of a dehydrator evenly is called horizontal flow. Vertical flow models are also effective and may include fans and design elements that are meant specifically to help improve the airflow of the machine.
Ease of Use
Dehydrating food is pretty easy in general. You won’t find a lot of difference between machines in how much work is needed, but there may be features that help make the process a little easier. Not having to switch around the shelves or need to check on your food regularly is a good feature as well as how much work is needed to clean the machine once you are done.
Size and Capacity
This feature depends completely on how much food you plan to dry and how much you want to do in one batch. You also want to consider how much counter space you have for a new appliance. For those that have gardens, you may want to consider a larger machine that can dry food in bulk, but if you only want to make a few snacks, a smaller machine may be more appropriate.
Some machines will produce more fan noise than others. If fan noise is something that you cannot live with, make sure to do some research and find those models that are not known for not making much noise.
Here are a few additional features that can make a big difference in how easy the food dehydrator will work for you.
• Thermostat – Different temperatures allow different types of foods to dry better, so having an adjustable temperature in your dehydrator will give you the best results. If you know you are planning on drying more than one food type, look for a dehydrator with an adjustable thermostat.
• Timer – It is often easy to forget about food that is drying since it will take a few hours. Having a timer will help guarantee you will check on your food when you need to and notify you when it is done.
• Auto Shutoff – If you plan to dry food overnight or while you are out running errands, having an auto shutoff is a nice feature to have so you don’t have to worry about your food overdrying while you are out or asleep.
When you prefer the healthy benefits of dehydrated food, you will find that the 4-Tray Excalibur 2400 helps you to economically preserve food easily and efficiently. With the Excalibur, you only need to load the trays and set the correct temperature while Excalibur takes care of the rest of the work drying the contents evenly so all the food is done at the same time. With the concentration of dehydration, you will get all the natural sweetness, flavor, and aromas of your food, plus you will have a healthier flavor than snacks that are high in fat and sugar.
You get four trays as well as four square feet of drying space that is easy to clean with polyscreen tray inserts. With this economy dehydrator, you have a great start to dehydrating with a model that performs like a large model without the frills. With the adjustable thermostat, you can dry food between 95 and 155 Fahrenheit that includes a 220-watt heater and a four-inch fan.
If you are interested in saving money and avoiding preservatives, but you enjoy the delicious taste of veggie chips and beef jerky, try the easy to use Chefman auto-dehydrator. You can make all your favorite treats without a lot of hassle. With six plastic trays that are adjustable and BPA free, the Chefman dehydrator allows you to create all kinds of dehydrated foods in one handy batch at just a fraction of the cost of dried foods you purchase at the store.
With digital touch setting, you can set your temperature between 95º F to 158º F and integrate your drying time with a 19.5-hour countdown timer. This is a super easy way to dry herbs, meat, and fruit with precise drying times and temperatures. Plus, the innovative design of the Chefman dehydrator maximizes the airflow so that you won’t have to deal with overheating, so you can guarantee that you make the perfect beef jerky, dried fruit, and dried herbs.
The Chefman dehydrator also features a transparent door so you can check on your drying process without having to open the door and monitor the progress of your food. With the Club Chefman Experience, you also get access to Club Chefman videos, recipes, cookbooks, and help from a Chef,
With a sleek and contemporary design, the Snackmaster Pro will be a great addition to your kitchen and your healthy lifestyle. It features 600 watts of drying power, a top mounted fan, and can generate the maximum quality and speed for dehydrating vegetables, fruits, and beef jerky. Unlike typical food dehydrators, you can dry out food in an hour and not days with the Snackmaster Pro.
With the adjustable Thermostat, you have the versatility to dry different foods at the correct temperatures giving you the flexibility to create the best drying results. The Snackmaster Pro comes equipped with five trays but can expand to an option 12 trays. The Opaque Vita-Save exterior is helpful in blocking harmful light that can destroy the nutritional content of the food as it is being dehydrated, and there is no need to rotate the trays as you don’t have to worry about your flavors mixing.
The Snackmaster Pro features versatility allowing you to create beef jerky, trail mix, homemade yogurt, dried fruit chip, and dried soup mixes. You can also dry spices and herbs, as well as make dried flowers or potpourri at home. It comes equipped with two mesh sheets, two solid sheets, three jerky spice packets, and a recipe book.
Magic Mill Pro
Designed to provide you with the joy of making dehydrated food, the Magic Mill dehydrator uses a unique heat distribution method that dries food evenly. It is equipped with a 400-watt rear-mounted drying fan and features air flow circulation technology that increases drying without overheating the food removing the need to rotate the drying shelves. With the adjustable digital set temperature and timer, you can present the dehydrator the night before you go to sleep and wake up with a finished product in the morning thanks to the automatic shutoff.
Other features of the Magic Mill include a see-through cover that allows you to monitor the drying process, a large capacity featuring six trays allowing you to dry six pounds of food at one, a drip tray to collect residue from the drying process, and overheating safety protection. This is a great product for drying long-lasting herbs, fruit slices, and beef jerky for a fraction of the cost if you bought the same products in the store. You are also helping to promote a healthy lifestyle with the easiest snacks, without additives, that are made in a BPA free machine
As you can see, drying your own foods can be a pretty simple task. When you consider the types of food you enjoy eating and the different options that dehydrating your food can give you, you will see a ton of new healthy options to add to your diet. Once you have decided what features you prefer in a food dehydrator, you can easily find the right machine that will work for you and your family.