A food dehydrator is a type of device which is used to eliminate moisture from foods and to encourage its preservation. This process is known as food drying and it is a method of preserving fruits, veggies, and animal proteins. It has been around since antiquity and the goal is to prevent spread of bacteria that would spoil the food.
How are Food Dehydrators Designed?
This device lowers the amount of water in foods with the help of a heat source and air flow. Foods usually have a high amount of water, i.e. 80 to 95 percent in fruits and veggies and 50 to 70 percent in different meats.
They work on energy sources like solar or electric power or biofuel. There are appliances created for domestic use, but there are also larger dehydration projects. The former ones are comprised of a heating element, a fan, air vents, and food trays and all of these elements work together to reduce the amount of water and prolong the shelf life of food.
How Does the Process of Dehydration Happen?
In most cases, foods are dehydrated at a temperature of 54 degrees Celsius, though jerky meats need a higher temperature of 68 degrees Celsius in order to protect from any potential pathogens in the meat. Proper air flow and constant temperature is vital for the process of dehydration. It is important to note that overly high temperature can lead to hard and dry foods on the outside and watery on the inside, which makes temperature regulation a must.
Should You Invest in a Food Dehydrator?
Without doubt, investing in this kitchen appliance is never a bad idea. It does not only help you preserve food, but it will also help you have your own supply of dry herbs, save more money that you otherwise spend on expensive snacks and replace them with healthier alternatives that you will prepare in the dehydrator, and prepare your own beef jerky which is a lean and tasty protein source that tastes much better than the store-bought variants.
This being said, we decided to present you one of the best stainless steel food dehydrators brands on the market and we also made a comparison between food dehydrators by Excalibur and other brands so that you can decide on the most viable option for you.
Excalibur Food Dehydrators
Since 1973, the company is constantly introducing improvements associated with dehydration and this is how a legacy was born. The company is located in Sacramento, CA and the dehydrators are manufactured in the U.S. They still rely on their passion and value for performance that has defined the brand since it was first established. We chose three of their food dehydrators as the most practical, quality, and most affordable ones.
The 5-Tray Stainless Steel Dehydrator is among their most affordable models with the price of $399. The exterior part is made of metal and the interior of plastic and the device comes with a clear door that enables you to see the drying process. It has 5 trays with 8 square foot capacity and a 26 hour timer. What is great about this product is the 10-year warranty.
However, some users are not satisfied with its loud noise while dehydrating, which is definitely a disadvantage as a lot of foods require dehydration for several hours and most people want to do the dehydration overnight. Considering that there are less pricey models that do not emit any noise, this could be a decisive factor in whether you will opt for this model or not.
The 9-Tray Stainless Steel Dehydrator comes with a 10-year warranty and 9 trays with 15 squares of drying place. Same as the dehydrator with 5 trays, this one also has a built-in 26-hour timer and an adjustable thermostat. The one-of-a-kind combination of industry leading air-flow mechanics and materials makes this food dehydrator ideal for families, crafts people, hunters, volume pet treats, as well as for people with in-home dehydrating businesses. At the price of $445.99, it is more expensive than the previous model; however, it comes with four additional trays and a complete guide to food dehydration which will help you become an expert in food dehydration.
However, as the trays are from stainless steel, the food may stick to them so it is preferable to use a mesh sheet or a non-stick sheet to prevent this from happening.
The 10-Tray Stainless Steel Dehydrator is completely made of stainless steel, that is, both the exterior and interior elements. Though it comes with only one more tray than the previous option, it does have a transparent glass door enabling you to control and supervise the drying process. This superior model comes with a 99-hour timer and 10 trays with 15.63 square feet of space for drying. It will not just dry your food perfectly, but it will make a great addition to any type of kitchen. It is crucial to note that at the price of $999, you get a 100 percent stainless steel dehydrator, large drying space, and the digital controller of 99 hours that will speed up the process of drying.
What some customers disliked is the poor craftsmanship of this product, that is, the misaligned glass doors and the loose rear plug was excessively loose which prevents the unit from being instantly plugged in. Also, one customer was particularly dissatisfied with the loud rattle-like noise released by the device,
Comparison between Excalibur and other Food Dehydrator Brands
The Food Dehydrator with 6 or 9 Stainless Steel Trays by Magic Mill is a more affordable food dehydrator than all 3 models by Excalibur, that is, it comes at the price of $128.84 and there is also an option to go with the same model, but with 9 trays for only $159.99.
What customers especially appreciate about this product are the stainless steel racks for an affordable price, which is not the case with the dehydrators by Excalibur for which you need to pay more than $200 for such trays. Moreover, this dehydrator releases no annoying sound and it is even quieter than microwaves. But, this product comes with smaller warranty than the above-mentioned Excalibur food dehydrators, i.e. only one year.
The Food Dehydrator with 6 Trays by BioChef can be purchased for $155 and it is among the most reasonable prices for this type of kitchen appliance. The racks are stainless steel like in the previous model, which eases the cleaning process, and what customers particularly appreciate is the superior horizontal airflow that allows an equal and consistent drying. What’s more, the product contains no adverse chemicals or contaminants and it is BPA free. With a 3-year warranty for the motor and parts and a 19.5-hour timer, you will certainly not be in the wrong if you opt for this model.
The Food Dehydrator with 6 Stainless Steel Trays by Aroma Housewares has a lot of positive reviews on Amazon and it proves that a quality food dehydrator can be low-cost. Namely, it also has other attractive features like the plastic and transparent glass door, the big spacing between the racks, the fast dehydration, and the absence of strange and loud noises.Nevertheless, though the visible door allows you to supervise the drying process, plastic is prone to cracking due to heat, which may result in additional costs for repair or replacement of the door. You can buy this food dehydrator for $165.29 and it has a 5-year warranty.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right Food Dehydrator
As we could see from the comparison of more expensive food dehydrator brands like those by Excalibur and some other brands that offer low-budget food dehydrators, spending more on a food dehydrator does not necessarily have to be a decisive factor in the quality of the product, but, a high-budget food dehydrator does not necessarily have to be a waste of money.
Although there are some models by Excalibur that offer premium quality like the $999 model, there are less expensive appliances of this type, like the one by Aroma Housewares that offers a similar high-quality performance and premium design for more than half the price.
With this in mind, when looking to buy a food dehydrator, you should not always be led solely by the price of the product, but by what customers have to say, as well as your personal experience and personal preferences and budget.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below! We always answer. What is your favorite thing to dehydrate?