A good food dehydrator can do so much in a real, whole foods kitchen! I’d never want to be without mine, and here’s why.
Years ago when I was a young teenager, my sister and I would often spend our Saturday afternoons watching infomercials.
Yep, those corny, scripted marathons of advertising genius were our choice for lazy Saturdays. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the future home business owner in me. That makes it sound more noble.
I remember three infomercials in particular. One, for a small rotisserie oven, is forever burnt into my memory with its tagline of “Set it and forget it!”. The second featured the new bubbling product called Oxyclean, showcased by a very exuberant bearded man. The third was for a food dehydrator.
I never understood the marvel behind a food dehydrator until I entered into the whole foods realm. Then I started reading about other mommas loving theirs and using it for all sorts of yummy dried treats. Before long, I was wishing for my own.
Once that food dehydrator entered my kitchen, I knew it wasn’t just another fun kitchen toy. It was a real must-have!
How I Use My Food Dehydrator
Though my dehydrator runs most frequently in the summer, I really do use it year round. These machines are so handy for all kinds of kitchen projects!
- Instead of baking granola in the oven and stirring it every 15 minutes so it doesn’t burn, I just put mine in the dehydrator overnight. It gets it perfectly crisp, I don’t have to stir anything, and there’s no risk to burning it. We love it! (Recipe coming!)
- Soaking nuts (I use salt water) helps to free up some of the nutrients, making them easier to digest and more nutritious (source). After I soak nuts and seeds overnight, I dry them in the food dehydrator to end up with crispier, tastier, and healthier nuts and seeds.
- I grow a lot of herbs at home, and though I can hang them up in the basement to dry, putting herbs in the dehydrator dries them perfectly with no threat of mold sneaking in. This also allows me to get herbs fresh from the garden to dried in my cupboards within 24 hours!
- Dried red peppers are incredible. Sliced, dried, and put in scrambled eggs, on grilled cheese, in with fried potatoes… I’m telling you. If you haven’t had these, you are missing out!
- Instead of heating up my kitchen to can tomatoes, I’ve started slicing and drying them. The kitchen doesn’t heat up and I’m not on my feet all day. In fact, my children can easily help me dry tomatoes, but helping me can is much more difficult for them. I still might can a little, but dehydrating is infinitely easier!
- All sorts of garden vegetables do well with dehydrating! This year I also plan to slice and dry summer squash to add to soups, and I might even try dehydrating green beans.
- Dried fruit is expensive, but when you get produce in season and in bulk, you can dry your own fruit for the whole year! We often do this with peaches. They really are like candy!
- Homemade fruit leather is so easy to make, too. I puree whole fruits, peels and all, in my food processor or blender, then spread on the dehydrator’s sheets for chewy treats through the winter. My children love homemade fruit leather!
- Food dehydrators can keep a warm, even temperature that can quickly raise bread dough, keep culturing yogurt warm, or help herbs infuse more quickly into oil.
- Finally, my dryer went out once when we were home for a day in between trips. The dehydrator was a champ for drying must-have laundry that couldn’t wait to line dry. Silly, I know, but very needed that day!
What Kind of Dehydrator is Best?
You can find food dehydrators in a range of prices and sizes, like these. Most are round with donut-shaped trays, but my favorite are the large box-shaped Excalibur dehydrators (also available on Amazon).
Though they are definitely in the deluxe price-range, they are able to dehydrate so much food quickly. Since it doesn’t have the center column that’s in round food dehydrators, no space is wasted inside the machine. There’s a nice range of temperatures and different models offer a timer option. It’s really quiet, too.
For our big family, my large 9-tray stainless steel dehydrator (also here) was the perfect choice. It was also a lovely birthday surprise a few years ago! There are also 5-tray options for smaller families or singles.
However, if the budget is a concern, I’d still recommend picking up an inexpensive dehydrator wherever you can find one. They’re just so handy!