Erin Doman on January 25, 2016 1 Comment Making your own dehydrated food has a lot of benefits. If you use your food dehydrator regularly, it can offer you savings, health benefits and a greener lifestyle. If you’re thinking about buying a food dehydrator, you should be aware of the benefits and basics of making your own dehydrated food. 1. Tastes Great Dehydrated food is just food–usually fruit, vegetables or meat–with all of the moisture dried out of it. Without the moisture to water down the taste, the food is rich and delicious. Not only that, but the food is also fresh when you make it yourself. Making it yourself allows you to enjoy this freshness, unlike you would if you ate the dehydrated food sold at the grocery store. 2. Less Expensive Processed snacks cost quite a bit of money on their own, and healthy and organic dehydrated food cost even more. You can save a lot of money by buying fresh food in bulk and dehydrating it yourself. That way you can take advantage of any deals you find at your grocery store’s produce section by dehydrating it and storing it for later. This practice will also allow you to replace many store-bought snacks. All of this adds up, and you will find that you are spending a lot less in the long run. 3. All Natural When you buy dehydrated food or other snacks, you don’t always know what’s in it. There are many additives and preservatives put in processed foods. These preservatives extend the shelf life of the food and will typically alter the nature taste of the food. Sugar is often added to dehydrated fruit; however, when you make it yourself in your food dehydrator, you are in control of what is and is not added. You won’t have to read the ingredient list on packages and worry about how those unpronounceable chemicals are affecting your body. Instead, you can simply dry your own fresh ingredients and have a snack for the road. 4. Portable It can be difficult to find healthy food that you can take on the go. Aside from bananas, there isn’t much that is easy to eat and won’t make a mess. It is also especially dangerous to eat while you’re trying to drive. With your dehydrated food, you can just have a plastic bag on your lap full of your snack. It’s great for children’s lunches at school or a midday snack at work, too. 5. Reduces Waste In the U.S. alone, we somehow manage to waste $165 billion worth of food every year. With a dehydrator, you can reduce waste by dehydrating foods that are coming close to spoiling. When your fresh fruit starts going soft, slice it up and put it in the food dehydrators. If you have meat that needs to be cooked, make some jerky. This method can help you from throwing out that sack of apples or bunch of bananas that you forgot about until they started turning brown. Simply slice them up and enjoy them later! Advantages of Using a Food Dehydrator If you are interested in dehydrating your foods but do not have the recommended equipment, know that it is possible to use the oven to dehydrate the foods using low temperatures for long periods of time. However, there are many advantages to using a dehydrator instead of an oven. For one, the food will have a much longer shelf life if you use a proper food dehydrator. The dehydrator will remove all the moisture from the food properly, and your food will actually be able to be stored about one year longer than if you used an oven instead, if kept in proper conditions. Dehydrators are also easy on your wallet. While there is an upfront cost, they end up paying for themselves several times over if used frequently. These are small appliances that use very little electricity. They also save you money because they prevent you from needing to heat an entire oven to dehydrate your food. You simply need to heat the small space which saves you energy as well as frees up your oven if you need it for something else. How to Dehydrate Food The correct food dehydration method depends on what you are dehydrating. Most of the foods don’t really need any preparation. However, it is recommended that you make sure your vegetables look blanched before putting them in the dehydrator. Blanching vegetables will make them dehydrate more quickly and will also set the color so they don’t look faded and undesirable once they’re finished. When it comes to actually dehydrating, you should always follow the directions for the specific food dehydrator that you have. Dehydrator Choices If you don’t have a dehydrator yet, there are some great ones out there to pick from. You can buy a dehydrator for as little as $50 and as much as several hundred. Here are some great choices. 1. Nesco American Harvest 400W Food Dehydrator This dehydrator is the perfect cheap option for someone who is just beginning to dehydrate their food. Not only can you use this dehydrator to make delicious veggie and fruit chips, but it can also be used to make jerky. Because of its weight and size–5 lbs. and 14.1″ H x 9.2″ W x 14.2″ D–this dehydrator can be easily moved and stored in any kitchen. The Nesco American Harvest Food Dehydrator touts its patented fan flow radial air drying technology, which ensures that your food will dry evenly. This means that you do not need to rotate your food during the drying process. The four trays allow you to dry a lot of veggie chips or jerky at one time. 2. Koolatron Total Chef 5 Tray Food Dehydrator Another cheaper yet extremely effective option of food dehydrator is the Koolatron Total Chef 5 Tray Dehydrator. You can upgrade to this Koolatron dehydrator for only about $80. This dehydrator has more options than other dehydrators, including five removable trays and a convection heating system. This food dehydrator is good for whatever you want to dehydrate, including fruits, vegetables and meats. The clear trays make it easier for your to monitor your foods as they dry. The compact size–8″ H x 13″ W x 13″ L–makes this appliance easy for anyone to use and store. 3. Excalibur 9 Tray Food Dehydrator with Timer This is a great dehydrator for someone who has committed to the wonderful habit of dehydrating foods, but maybe not so much for the beginners. If the inexpensive dehydrators aren’t enough for you, you can buy an Excalibur dehydrator–but it will set you back a couple hundred dollars. This dehydrator features nine trays, allowing you to dehydrate a lot of food at once. You can lay out plenty of jerky or make enough dried fruit for the whole family in just one use. What makes the Excalibur dehydrator so efficient is that it uses a horizontal air-flow drying system instead of radiating heat throughout the unit. This ensures that every tray gets the same amount of heating and drying power. 4. Nesco Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator All-In-One Kit This Nesco Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator is a top seller for Nesco. It has four trays, similar to the American Harvest food dehydrator listed above. The difference is that this dehydrator can actually be expanded if you need to dehydrate more than four trays worth of food at one time. The dehydrator works evenly, so you don’t need to rotate trays like you would with less expensive products, and it has a temperature range of 95° F – 155° F. The design also makes it easy to use and easy to clean. One of the best things about this dehydrator is that it works fast–instead of waiting a couple of days for your food to fully dehydrate, you can enjoy your food in just a few short hours. Long-Term Benefits Dehydrating food is a good habit to adopt because it can benefit your health and your wallet rather quickly. With the many different kinds of food dehydrators available today, it should not be too difficult to find one that is not too expensive but can still get the job done to your standards.