Which of the many dehydrators you choose depends on how much dehydrating you plan to do. If you are testing the waters, avoid commitment, and start with a DIY setup for your oven. Once you are convinced that dehydrating food is right for you or are already convinced, read on!
In the past, a specific line of dehydrators was the go-to for a lot of preppers, but I haven’t had much luck with them recently. These days, no brand is really any better than another, but there are a few models that stand out. I’ve been very impressed with the NutriChef 6-tray model, which isn’t huge but does a great job and will work for most preppers.
These are the Top 3 Dehydrator Picks for Prepping
Best Budget DehydratorThe NESCO Snackmaster Pro (Click to see at Amazon)
Why I like it: This is a great way to dip your toes into dehydrating without spending too much money. It has very sturdy trays and a top-down circulating system, which isn’t the best but gets the job done. It’s expandable to 12 trays. I’ve been known to throw the trays into the dishwasher with no problem.
Most Liked DehydratorNutriChef 6-Tray Countertop Dehydrator (Click to see at Amazon)
Why I like it: This food dehydrator has a mid-range capacity with six stainless steel trays. It has a rear-mounted fan as well as an interior fan to improve circulation. All trays are dishwasher safe, and it looks nice. I’m not the only one who likes it, as all reviews I can find are positive.
Best Dehydrator for Prepping
Weston Pro 1200 (Click to see at Home Depot)
Why I like it: This is the last stop before getting into the much more expensive commercial dehydrators. It has a lot of drying space – about 28 square feet over 12 trays – and loads of features, too. It’s a good pick for those who have both experience dehydrating and plan to dehydrate a lot each year.
Why I Picked the NutriChef
It’s not overly expensive, but it has excellent reviews and has enough drying space for the average person.
- I feel good about using stainless steel trays. They’re easy to clean and sanitize and won’t corrode when drying acidic fruits and vegetables.
- It looks good on your countertop, unlike the practical donut-style dehydrators
- The trays slide in and out pretty quickly, so you don’t need a lot of workspace when rotating.
- Comes with fruit leather trays and screens
If you have enough counter space to leave it out all of the time, do so. It becomes second nature to throw a batch of fruit or veggies into it when it’s in full-sight.
A food dehydrator is a countertop appliance that circulates warm air through a compartment to dry small pieces of food. There are a handful of different styles, but they all essentially work the same way.
Though you can use an oven to produce similar results, a dedicated dehydrator’s benefit is that it won’t be in your way when you want to make dinner.
More: Learn Why You Should Vacuum Seal Dehydrated Food
Is It Worth Getting a Dehydrator?
In the world of prepping, a good dehydrator is a must. It’s an inexpensive way to convert your fresh garden harvest into shelf-stable foods and ingredients.
Dehydrators reduce food waste by drying food you might have in excess, preparing it for long-term storage. They make great super-healthy snacks for kids and pets, and they even make some types of jerky.
Dehydrators also use a lot less energy than an oven would.
What Should I Look For in a Food Dehydrator?
- This is the power used to run the dehydrator at its highest setting, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the output. Obviously, a larger unit will require a larger wattage, but if you see small units with big numbers, compare them to similar models before buying.
- Look for a range of at least 95°F – 160°F
- There are a few budget models that have no temperature control. Avoid these.
- Side blowing dehydrators are better than top or bottom blowing ones.
- Top blowing dehydrators are better than bottom blowing ones.
- Look for racks that look like grids or grills rather than sheets with notches cut out
- Side fans tend to create better airflow, but most dehydrators still require rack rotation
- Avoid clear trays made of acrylic – tough to sanitize with heat and keep a long time
- Heavy-duty plastics or stainless-steel trays are best. Watch for cheap coated steel trays as they are tough to take care of
- This is a feature that is your preference. I don’t bother, personally, because I’m always checking my product.
- Auto-shutoff timers can limit the total time a dehydrator can run. Make sure your product has enough dry time if the timer is on.
How Do I Choose a Dehydrator?
Avoid stacking tray dehydrators where the fan is on the bottom. There is potential for juices to drip down into the machine where it is difficult and dangerous to clean.
Though the donut-style, round dehydrators aren’t quite as good as the cabinet-style ones, they are more affordable and still do a decent job. Look for a style that you can buy extra trays/tray types.
A digital display is a neat feature but really doesn’t make a difference overall.
I hope I answered all of your questions about buying dehydrators, but this list is by no means exhaustive. There are several good dehydrators on the market, but these are the ones that I have experience with.
If you have any questions that I can help you with, please contact me, and I will do my best to help you. Your questions help me to help everyone else!