Do you want to preserve your meat and tomatoes in a comparatively lesser time without sun drying them for days?
Do you have your backyard healthy-produce comprising fresh vegetables and berry bushes you want to preserve for off-season use?
If yes, this review about the 5 best food dehydrators Consumer Reports for 2020 will answer all your questions.
Click to jump straight to each topic
- Top 5 Best Food Dehydrators for 2021 Reviews
- How Does a Food Dehydrator Work?
- How to Make Beef Jerky with a Dehydrator?
Top 5 Best Food Dehydrators for 2021 Reviews
Dehydration is a process known to humanity for ages to preserve all kinds of fruit, vegetables, and even meat. However, modern-day technology has elevated the dehydration process, diversifying it to make healthy snacks, jerky meat, and a variety of dry fruit.
#1. COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine
COSORI is known as a revolutionary kitchen appliance brand with its inventive and durable designs. The COSORI Premium Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator CP267-FD is one of the best jerky dehydrators with its 600-W power.
Whether you are a pro or a newbie in using food dehydrate, you need not worry because it comes with a free recipe book with more than fifty ideas to kickstart your kitchen efficiency.
The outlook isn’t just sturdy with a stainless body, but also stylish.
It comes with six stainless steel trays, which is again another plus compared to the rest of the dehydrators, which come with plastic trays. It’s relatively easy to wash and clean the steel trays as compared to the plastic ones.
What if you want to dehydrate smaller items like herbs and fruit leather sheets? Luckily, It includes a mesh-free screen to hold smaller items to avoid moisture dripping through the steel mesh.
You can customize the temperature from 95F to 165F degrees to perfectly dehydrate all kinds of food, including jerky beef. The transparent screen allows you to monitor the dehydration progress, unlink some closed competitive models.
The digital touchpad control screen is quite simple with four buttons, including start/stop temperature thermostat and +/- buttons to increment or decrement the timer with half-hour steps. You can set the timer as low as 30 minutes and as high as 48 hours.
You can set the dehydrate to work overnight without worrying about turning it off manually. The auto shut-off mode automatically turns it off after the dehydration process, ensuring security and electricity conservation.
- Adjustable temperature settings
- Auto shut-off mode
- Quiet operation
- Occupies more kitchen counter space
#2. Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
If you are looking for a large-sized yet compact dehydrator for your backyard bulk-quality produce, then the Excalibur 3926TB 9-tray electric food dehydrator is the perfect choice for you. It is one of the best commercial food dehydrators with its fifteen square-feet space and nine non-stick trays.
You can adjust the temperature between the range of 105F to 165F degrees, unlike the COSORI CP267-FD, which gives you a more comprehensive temperature range starting from 95F degrees. Moreover, its maximum timer goes up to 26-hours, which is lesser than the 48-hours timer of the dehydrator discussed before.
You can always remove the trays to make space for the higher food items such as celery or other vegetables.
It’s a multi-functional kitchen appliance that can also be used as proof dough if you want to bake or warm bread or croissants. Not just that, you can also make nutritious homemade yogurt and other fermented food items.
You can select its black or white color to match your kitchen interior color.
It has a simplistic, easy-to-use control panel with only knobs – one for temperature and the other for the timer. However, these are manual knobs that give quite an old-fashioned impression.
It has a unique slide-out door that slides out in a horizontal direction. You may think that the slider door doesn’t seal perfectly; however, it doesn’t affect the dehydration performance.
The removable mesh trays can easily be cleaned and washed. Not only that, but you can also clean the interior of the dehydrator with a clean damped cloth.
- Spacious drying area
- Easy cleaning
- Occupies more kitchen counter space
- Ordinary looks
- No additional accessories
#3. Brod & Taylor SAHARA Folding Food Dehydrator
Brod & Taylor has re-defined the concept of compactness in its SAHARA folding food dehydrator, making it one of the best food dehydrators according to Consumer Reports 2020.
It can fold up to 1/3rd of its original size to be stored in any cabinet; thus, occupying minimalistic space in the kitchen. When unfolded, it can go up to a height of 11-inches with its standard seven trays.
The 4-inches diameter fan circulates the warm air blown by a 750-watt heater.
It surpasses the COSORI CP267-FD with its minimum temperature selection of 86F degrees. However, it has got the lowest maximum temperature selection of 165F degrees among the two discussed dehydrators.
An additional feature is the dual heating system, which combines the recirculated heated air with filtered fresh air. The adaptive dual-heater is fully automatic, switching to either full or lower power mode to control the temperature. Consequently, you can also select separate timers for both the heaters.
When combined, it can dehydrate your food automatically for up to 198 hours.
Bord and Taylor ensure the safety of your food with its BPA-free and dishwasher safe trays.
The glass door doesn’t just look stylish yet; it gives you a wide-angle view of the dehydration progress.
Just like the Excalibur 3926TB, you can use it as a proofing oven to bake/warm food items at 85F degrees.
- Easy assembling
- Quiet operation
- Dual heating system
- Enhanced drying area
- Non-stick trays
- Relatively expensive
- No carrying case
#4. Nesco Gardenmaster 075 Food Dehydrator
As the name indicates, the Nexco Gardenmaster 075 food dehydrator is one of the best food dehydrators to remove moisture from your vegetables and fruits with its 1,000-watt power. Other useful features include temperature control adjustment and a customizable digital timer for automatic switching off.
Nesco is renowned for incorporating advanced technology into its kitchen appliances. So, keeping up with its legacy, the Gardenmaster comes with a patented Convergence-Flow airflow mechanism to ensure uniform air circulation. It has saved you from the hassle of cutting the vegetables and fruit in even shape and sizes for consistent dehydration.
Its size and shape are unique with its round shape than the rest of the rectangular dehydrators discussed above. However, the exterior body and trays are made with plastic, making it lightweight and portable. It’s a budget-friendly Nesco model to cater to your daily kitchen requirements.
The external casing blocks the incoming light to preserve the nutritious value of the food items. You can customize the temperature between 95F to 160F degrees to dehydrate all kinds of food, including apple slices, as well as beef jerky.
It comes with standard seven trays, which can be extended to thirty trays to dehydrate bulk items.
A 24,00 RPM motor and 4.5-inches fan blows the warm around throughout the dehydrate without manually rotating the trays. Another advantage of the round shape is that it guarantees uniform air circulation.
It comes with all supporting accessories such as fruit-roll sheets and fine-mesh mats to hold smaller items.
All the parts are dishwasher safe to ensure hassle-free cleaning.
- Adjustable temperature controls
- Eight standard- and 30 maximum trays
- 1,000-watt power
- Fruit- roll-up screen
- Comes with additional accessories
#5. NESCO FD-75A, Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
If you are looking for an all-in-one affordable food dehydrator, then the NESCO FD-75A, Snackmaster pro food dehydrator is an optimal choice for you. It is one of the best dehydrators for jerky with its 95F to 160F degrees adjustable temperature range coupled with 600-watt power.
The patented Converge-a-Flow mechanism works on the downward airflow principle by rotating through all the trays. The fan is mounted on the top rather than the conventional downside to distribute warm air uniformly all around the five trays. You can expand the internal capacity with 12 trays.
Just like the Nexco Gardenmaster 075, it comes in a Vita-Save plastic casing. It is an exclusive light-resistant material that blocks the external light rays from coming inside the dehydrator. Subsequently, the quality of the food remains intact.
However, the white-thick plastic exterior can be a disadvantage by preventing you from monitoring the dehydration process through the transparent view.
The mesh-screen trays don’t let the food items stick to it. Additionally, the trays are dishwasher safe making the entire cleaning process seamless.
Don’t worry if you are a beginner in the food dehydration process because the NESCO Snackmaster comes with free recipes to ensure a productive start.
It comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty to guarantee a safe investment.
- Quiet operation
- Expandable up to 12 trays
- No need for manual tray rotation
- Only five standard trays
- No timer
- Absence of ON/OFF switch
How Does a Food Dehydrator Work?
You must be wondering about the mechanism of a food dehydrator and how it works in such a short period. We all know that moisture is the primary medium for bacteria and other fungi to grow, thus spoiling your fruit and vegetables.
A food dehydrator works on the fundamental principle of removing the moisture from the food items to enhance their shelf life without storing them in a refrigerator or a freezer.
By the way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can consume the dehydrated products only in their dry form. It entirely depends on your choice to either eat them as snacks, top them on pizzas, or rehydrate them.
Modern electric dehydrators have a heating source to circulate warm air to dehydrate your food items consistently.
The main components include a heating element, air vents, fan, and food shelves. The heating element, air vents, and fan work simultaneously to remove the food’s moisture by circulating the warm air throughout the dehydrator. The fan is responsible for eliminating the moisture through the vents to avoid steam from building up inside.
The majority of the dehydrator comes with a variable range of temperature, allowing you to select the temperature depending upon the food you want to dehydrate.
How to Make Beef Jerky with a Dehydrator?
The best thing about a food dehydrator is that it allows you to make America’s favorite beef jerky. You can create mouth-watering beef jerky for your family within hours using one of the best dehydrators for beef jerky discussed above. All you need is to follow the following five steps.
A meat piece can either make or break your beef jerky dehydration process. You can take a lean flank, steam, sirloin tip, or a top/bottom round piece.
The secret is to take a piece of meat without any fat because fat decreases the shelf life of beef jerky. You may need to remove the tiny bits of fat by slicing the visible fat off the meat.
You need to freeze the meat for just one or two hours to ensure easy slicing of around one-by-fourth inches to create chewier beef jerky pieces.
You can either select your traditional home recipe or online recipe to marinate the thin meat slices for a good 16 – 24 hours.
The final step is to dehydrate the meat pieces by spreading them evenly on the shelves avoiding any overlap. Since meat requires a higher temperature, you can set the dehydrator at 160-degrees and allow it to run for four to five hours.
The complete dehydration process depends upon the thickness of the slices.
Once your beef jerky is ready, you can store them in a vacuum-sealed for solid two months. However, opting for a ziplock bag ensures a shelf life of only seven to ten days.
The above guide is designed to give you in-depth reviews about the commercial and household food dehydrators’ functionality.
As we opt for a healthy lifestyle, we need a reliable and high-performing dehydrator to create healthy fruit snacks and beef jerky.
Those days are long gone when we had to wait for days to sundry our food items. Food dehydrators have made our day-to-day food preservation effective with their adjustable temperature controls and automatic timers.