What is a Food Dehydrator?
A food dehydrator is an electric appliance which uses both air and heat to remove the moisture or water content from foods. Water is what makes food spoil or go bad and without water, bacteria and mould can't grow. Bacteria, yeasts and mould need the water in the food to grow, and drying effectively prevents them from surviving in the food. Usually a fan and a heating element are used to create the dehydration environment.
Drying food using sun and wind to prevent spoilage has been practiced since ancient times, and was the earliest form of food preservation - it helped our ancestors though droughts and famines. Fortunately, today's technology has made this process much easier and more effective, with modern day dehydrators regulating the temperature for even and consistent drying.
The shape of dehydrators, and how they use the heat and air to dehydrate the food is what sets different styles of dehydrators apart. You can compare the different types of food dehydrators using the comparison table, below.
Top ten benefits of owning a Food Dehydrator
The benefits of dehydrating foods are vast and include everything for nutrition to reducing food waste and saving you money! Our top ten reasons for owning a food dehydrator include:
- Dehydrated foods taste great
- Reduce food wastage & extend shelf life - for up to 2 years!
- Create healthy & 100% natural foods and snacks
- Cost effective
- Efficient storing - take less than one sixth of their original storage space
- Portability - dehydrated foods are lightweight, compact and travel well
- Precision Drying - complete control with adjustable thermostats
- Flexible & versatile - only limited by your imagination
- Simple & Easy to Use - set and forget drying system
- Safe - very low risk of bacteria and spoiling
What's the difference between store-bought dried fruit and the home-made kind?
Good question! When we think of fried fruit, we tend to associate it with a "healthy snack" and a lot of the time when people are dieting they consume large quantities of dried fruit thinking it is a healthy alternative to sweets or lollies. However, this is not the case when it comes to store-bought dried fruit. Many store-bought dried fruits contain added sugars, sulphur dioxide and trans fat - all of which can be harmful to you and your family!
Sulphur dioxide is sometimes added to store bought dried fruit in order to prevent discoloration. Sulphur dioxide can cause asthma, skin rashes and stomach pains. Sulphur dioxide is particularly present in dried apricots, which is what gives them the bright orange colour.
By making your own dried fruits, there is no additives or preservatives - you are in control of what goes into your food! Also, some dried fruits aren't as naturally sweet as you may think for example store-bought dried cranberries are less sweet when dried naturally.
What can I make in a Food Dehydrator?
You're only limited to your imagination! However, below is a list of just some of the things you can make with a food dehydrator:
- Dried fruits such as grapes, blueberries, strawberries, mangoes, bananas, pineapple and kiwi fruit
- Healthy vegetable chips - make crispy chips from beetroot, carrot, parsnip and sweet potato with no oil
- Jerky - experiment with different varieties: beef, lamb, fish and poultry with preservative-free, fresh marinades and spices
- Healthy bread alternatives such as flax seed bread, pizza bases and crackers
- Dried fruit roll-ups / fruit leathers - these are a winner with the kids. Simply blend fruit (and even add some yogurt), dehydrate and roll up. Perfect lunchbox snack!
- Healthy granola, activated nuts and seeds
- Preservative free dog and animal treats
For more food dehydrator inspiration and recipes, click here!