Food Dehydrator 101: Create Simple Tasty Snacks

Fans of 1990s infomercials no doubt remember the Ronco Electric Food Dehydrator. This late-night television staple showed America the wonders of dehydrating food. While the process has evolved from the days of homemade beef jerky and dried bananas, those foods are still popular dehydrator staples.
Keep reading to learn about the benefits of owning a food dehydrator and see just how easy these devices are to use in the kitchen.

How Do Food Dehydrators Work?

Patient food lovers are more than happy to wait for their beloved food dehydrator to prepare their favorite treats.
In many ways, operating a food dehydrator looks a lot like using a standard convection oven already found in many homes. In either situation, heated air flow allows the food to dry out — but the difference with food dehydrators is time and temperature.
While normal oven usage involves heating foods at temperatures of 350 degrees or above, food dehydrators use significantly lower temperatures. For most foods, these temperatures shouldn’t exceed 130 degrees, with meat going slightly higher at 155 degrees.
Keep in mind: this relatively low temperature means it will take a while to get results. Most food dehydrators will prepare food upwards of a day and a half.

Using A Food Dehydrator

The popularity of modern food dehydrators can be credited, in part, to their ease of use. Consumers who are intimidated by cooking in the kitchen can still master the art of food dehydration.
The key to success with food dehydration? Proper preparation is key. For example: with foods such as beef jerky, it’s crucial to have thin slices of meat. The prevailing thought in most circles is that quarter-inch thick slices are optimal.

Preparing Fruits

However, for fruits and vegetables, it’s a little more varied. You can cut bananas and plantains into quarter-inch pieces as well. Other fruits require additional preparation to maximize results.
For example, you should pretreat fruits such as apricots, peaches, and apples before tossing them in the food dehydrator. According to Penn State Extension, this process will help minimize vitamin loss, reduce oxidation, and keep the fruits from turning brown. There are several different retreating methods to choose from:
  • Combine ascorbic acid with cold water. About 2.5 tablespoons of ascorbic acid along with a quart of cold water will do the trick.
  • Mix equal parts lemon juice and water. Douse the fruit in this mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Use a teaspoon of citric acid and a quart of cold water to create a potent solution. Soak fruits in the solution for 10 minutes before drying and placing them in the dehydrator.
Some smaller fruits — blueberries, blackberries, grapes, and cherries — require you to crack their skins. This allows the moisture to more easily escape the fruit without having to make it through the skin. The best way to do this involves a quick dip (between 30 and 60 seconds) in boiling water, followed by a short stint in very cold water.
After preparing the food, it’s time for the easy part. First, place all the food on the trays included with the dehydrator. Next, set the temperature controls and, if applicable, the timer.
While some food dehydrators come with a timer, setting an additional alarm on a phone or other device is best. After all, these devices are quiet and inconspicuous, so it can be easy to completely forget they are running. Once the allotted time is up, remove the food and either enjoy it or place it in vacuum-sealed bags for storage.

Protect Your Food Dehydrator With Upsie

It’s important to protect your top-of-the-line food dehydrator with an Upsie extended small appliance warranty. Many retailers and manufacturers offer lackluster warranties that are intentionally hard to comprehend. In comparison, extended warranties from Upsie have easy-to-understand terms and conditions.
Upsie’s warranties cost up to 70 percent less than warranties from competitors. Also, customers can make unlimited claims up to the purchase price of the appliance. In addition to food dehydrators, Upsie also protects large kitchen appliances, smartphones, laptops, and more.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.