After we decided to grow our own vegetables, we knew we’d also have to preserve them. A quick Google search shows that you can do that in a couple different ways, of which the most popular ones are;
Out of these four, dehydrating piqued my interest. We have a lot of fruit bearing trees, a nut bearing tree (walnut or almond – not sure yet) and lots of strawberry plants on our property, and I want to preserve as much fruit as I can so we have some in stock for winter. Dehydrating just seemed like the perfect way to preserve them! I also soon found out a dehydrator is also perfectly used for herbs and vegetables… So, I went to look for one.
Without a plan however, Google is a labyrinth one cannot navigate without a map. With a lot of trial and error I finally learned there’s just a few simple steps to finding your perfect first dehydrator!
To get started, I read about the types and possible features on food dehydrators. It didn’t take long for me to find out the most important thing to take into account is which produce you want to dehydrate. Different types of food need to be dried at different temperatures to dry evenly and thoroughly.
1. Decide which produce you want to dehydrate
I looked for recipes of dehydrating different types of product (starting with the ones I’m most likely to dehydrate like herbs and apples) to find out at which temperature they need to be dehydrated.
- Some herbs need to be dehydrated at temperatures as low as 35 degrees celcius.
- Most fruits and veggies dehydrate at temperatures around 55 degrees celcius
- Fish and meat need to be dehydrated at temperatures as high as 70 degrees celcius
My conclusion: at the current time I do not have plants to dehydrate fish or meat, so if I find a dehydrator with a temperature range of 35 to ~60 degrees celcius that would be just fine for my needs!
2. Decide on the type of airflow
At my initial search for information on dehydrators I found there’s basically two types: the so-called horizontal dehydrators and vertical dehydrators. It basically means which way the air flows through the system; horizontal dehydrators have airflow from one side to the other, vertical dehydrators have an airflow from the top to the bottom.
I expect to have a lot of fruit to dehydrate, so I’ll want to try my hand on making fruit leathers. That means I’ll want a horizontal dehydrator. In a vertical dehydrator the slab of mush would block the airflow and I imagine that wouldn’t be good for it’s dehydrating capabilities : )
3. Think of any other preferences
Some other things I thought about:
- Which materials are they made of? I’d rather not have one made of plastic if I have a choice.
- Since it’ll be my first food dehydrator, I’d like one with a see-through door or window. That way I can see how my produce is doing without opening it and losing heat.
- A timer! Honestly, I’ll need one with a timer. Since I work in an office, if I have a dehydrator with a timer I can turn it on before I leave for work, set the timer and I wouldn’t have to worry about being home at a certain time to turn it off.
- How much produce do I expect to dehydrate? Taking the amount of fruit trees into account, I doubt a dehydrator with 3 trays will be big enough. I’d rather have one with 5+ trays, preferably one with 9 trays.
4. Decide on a budget
Last but not least, I had to decide how much money I wanted to spend on my first dehydrator. After looking around for a bit, I noticed there’s dehydrators of around 30 euro, but also dehydrators that cost over 400 euro. 400 euro is wildly above budget – especially because I’m not really sure how much I’ll actually use it – but at the same time I don’t think I’ll get something of quality for the lowest region. I’d rather spend a bit more to get a machine that’ll last for a couple of years.
5. Search, read, search some more
Then, the search began… I browsed my favorite webshops (also those that I never saw before, just to get an idea of reviews and possibilities) and used the filtering to filter on my requirements as much as possible. I found a couple I liked, but found out they weren’t available. Or they had really bad reviews.
In the end, I found one that I think is ideal for my needs! The food dehydrator I chose is the TurboTronic TT-FD30-D. It’s made of metal, has a timer, a see-through door, 8 trays, and its temperature range is 35 – 80 degrees celcius. It just seems perfect!
I haven’t tried it yet, but I can’t wait for our produce to be ready. When I’ve used it thoroughly and discovered it’s pros and cons I’ll let you know what I think about it : )