It is not a lie that a food dehydrator is not a mandatory kitchen tool. However, it is not also undeniable that with this amenity, your versatility in cooking will improve. If you love meat jerky, having this appliance will come handy. It allows you to prepare and preserve healthy food for you and your family in the most advantageous way.
Looking for the best food dehydrator for jerky is quite a difficult process. This is simply because there are a lot of options that you can see in the market today. If you don’t know the proper gauge of measuring a dehydrator’s quality, then you are headed to some tough zone. However, the decision process does not have to be this complicated if you know the ins and outs of a quality food dehydrator.
I was once subjected to such predicament. Getting baffled by multiple choices is not a good feeling at all. That’s why I learned my lessons and did my research. You are lucky though; I will share my knowledge about this product magnanimously.
In this article, I have rounded the food dehydrators. I also included a short course that will teach you how to choose a dehydrator properly. In this way, you can shop as quick and convenient as possible. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
How to Choose a Food Dehydrator
There are several things that you have to keep in mind if you are planning to buy a dehydrator. Although these appliances are not complicated, you still need to figure out your preferences and intended uses to make a proper decision. You can make savory meat jerky, and also dry nutritious fruits and veggies in these smart gadgets. I will review their fundamental features so that you can make the best decision to select the appropriate dehydrator according to your individual needs.
This is just the same if you are shopping for a jerky gun or a butcher knife. It doesn’t matter how simple looking they are. You need to know about the small details to make a wise decision. They might look similar on the outside, but their operational mechanisms differ significantly. These differences can make them practical or a complete hassle to work with in the long run. For food dehydrators, here they are:
Air Flow and Heat Distribution
Food dehydrators may appear like a complicated machine. However, they are not. In fact, dehydration is the simplest way of preparing food. Specifically, you just need a consistent heat to expel any moisture and liquid from the food that you are drying.
On technical applications, the efficiency of food dehydrator boils down to how good it is in distributing heat. This is usually accomplished by a small fan that is mounted on top of the device. Some manufacturers prefer to add multiple fans on the sides instead. Food like jerkies requires an even heat distribution so that you can cook them evenly. Therefore, a food dehydrator should assure that it could dry your food proficiently, regardless of their distance from the heat source.
As I mentioned earlier, drying and dehydrating food are simple processes. I could even say that these things don’t change regardless of the brand that you are going to choose. However, I have to remind you that some dehydrators can make this task a lot easier for you. As a general rule, you should always aim for appliances that can save you more time in the kitchen, so that you have more time for everything else.
One of the things that you should look for is the capability of a dehydrator to cook food without you switching or flipping them. The presence of this feature can make a huge difference. If your food dehydrator has this, you can just leave it while it is drying your dish. On the flipside, those that don’t have this functionality will make an effort to check their food constantly. Trust me, changing or rotating the trays take all the fun out of drying your food.
Of course, you should be wary about the price of the food dehydrator as well. Specifically, the price tag of a particular product determines its performance and quality. Therefore, you can expect that those high-end units have better features and functions compared to their entry-grade counterparts. However, this is not always the case since some products can be overpriced while others can provide you more than what you paid for in the first place.
If you are looking for a food dehydrator that has extra capabilities (e.g. large cooking surface, superb heat distribution, internal thermometers), you might want to invest in an expensive model. With this option, you can prepare jerky with utmost convenience and pleasure.
Nevertheless, I am not saying that pricey dehydrators should be your first choice. You could still choose those mid and lower range dehydrators, too. If you are just looking for a unit that can get the job done, you could opt for those that have the simplest of designs. But you should be aware that they don’t come with additional perks. Moreover, they might require constant and regular maintenance. It is best to determine what your goal is in terms of the food type you are planning to dehydrate. You can make a better decision if you know that you are planning to use the dehydrator mainly for making meat jerky or also for drying other foods.
Size and Capacity
Just like any cooking appliances, you need to consider the size of a food dehydrator that you are going to buy. At this point, the decision will depend on your personal needs. If you have a commercial jerky business or a large household, it is ideal that you should get a food dehydrator with a spacious cooking surface and lots of racks. These bigger units are capable of preparing a huge quantity of food in a single heating.
Some food dehydrators also come with vertical stack design. This particular innovation fully maximizes the cooking space of the dehydrator. If you are usually preparing numerous food batches, this unit is a perfect choice for you.
Of course, for people like me who are always alone with their kids, we can just opt for smaller dehydrators that have compact sizes. They can serve our appetite in a satisfying and waste-free manner. Besides, their storage will never become an issue due to their compact size!
Rounding the Best Food Dehydrator for Jerky
I already discussed the all the necessary features that a food dehydrator should possess. Now, let me round all of the top rated food dehydrators for jerkies in the market today. Check them out and see which one can catch your attention!
#1. Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
When it comes to making jerkies, the Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator is an excellent choice. It has several features that make the drying process smooth and easy. You will certainly love its top-mounted fan that enables the effective movement of internal heat and moisture. It also features an adjustable thermostat, which ranges from 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (perfect for making jerkies). Nesco makes exceptional food dehydrators with advanced systems, that is why their appliances are so popular.
I simply love the fact that the Nesco FD-75A prevents the intertwining of flavors. It has multiple tray layers that can dry different foods in a single heating. Nesco dehydrator also uses the patented Converg-a-Flow Drying Action System. This particular technology improves the speed of food drying by making sure that heat will be evenly distributed inside the appliance. You get optimal results effortlessly.
One of my favorite features is that there is no need for you to rotate the trays. As I mentioned, the heat distribution of this device is balanced and even. Moreover, the exterior finish is made from opaque that prevents external elements (such as detrimental lights) from passing through. This also adds to the pace and nutritious level of dehydrating in this unit. Opaque allows to keep more minerals, and vitamins in your food through the dehydration process (about 90%).
It only takes a few hours to prepare delicious snacks in Nesco food dehydrator. Jerky and dried fruits are my favorite choices to dry, but lately, I also started to prepare dried ingredients for various kinds of soups. It is so tasty and healthy to be able to dehydrate broccoli, mushroom, carrots, beets, and other veggies. Just add some milk and hot water later on to cook savory soups lightning fast. Do not forget to dry your onions and garlics too. You can use them as powdered in your stews and soups. You really do not have to buy those soups from the store ever again. All you need to do is to plan what to dry to have palatable soups later on!
This dehydrator comes with two fruit roll sheets. I am sure that you will love the Clean-A-Screes included in the package. Thinly sliced veggies and fruits may sometimes stick to the trays. Clean-A-Screens prevent them from sticking. You can add 7 more trays later on to the 5 that is included in the set. The 600-watts of power proves that it can also be used professionally if needed. Trays are made from plastic; they are not metal. You can prepare exceptional dried meats, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and herbs; the versatility is outstanding.
- Guarantees even distribution of heat
- Perfect for making different types of jerkies
- Solid and durable construction
- Hastens the drying time of food
- Patented heating system to dry food evenly and faster
- It is not loud during dehydrating
- Flavor doesn’t mix in
- Doesn’t come with a timer
- Trays are not dishwasher safe
#2. Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator
The Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator is one great option if you want to make various jerky recipes. This device comes with nine horizontal trays, perfect for catering large batch of servings. Overall, the entire dehydrator is quite big. What you get is 15 square feet of drying space. If you have a large family, or you make meat jerky on a regular basis, then this is the one for you. But nonetheless, it also equates to its performance.
The Excalibur 3926TB has a 26-hour timer which gives you full control over the drying process. This is a vital accessory that allows you to prepare your dried foods precisely. Some food dehydrators do not come with this option. The thermostat that comes with it is adjustable, with a temperature that ranges from 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Such heat is the ideal temperature that effectively preserves the nutrients of the food, even if you are drying them. You can be sure that the active enzymes will remain in the vegetables and fruits. It is also in compliance with the meat safety standards for preparing meat jerky.
Note that the heating element, thermostat, and fan are positioned on the back. Therefore, you can guarantee the cool-warm air exchange efficiently takes place inside the device. Because of this, you can also assure that this device is capable of drying your food evenly. The Excalibur 3926TB is using a proprietary Parallex Horizontal Airflow to improve the speed of dehydration.
As I mentioned earlier that I like food dehydrators where you do not have to rotate or change the trays during the process, and Excalibur is sure one of them. This option saves a lot of energy and time. This smart device comes with a flexible poly-screen tray insert that is similar to Nesco’s clean screen sheets to prevent fruits and vegetables from sticking to the trays.
I also love this device for another reason. It is my passion to cook bread at home. Did you know that you can use the Excalibur as a fermentation unit to raise bread before you cook it in the oven? Just remove some of the trays to make room, and make use of its fermentation capacity. You can also make stale bread crispy again in this; brush the outer of the bread with cold water before you put it in the dehydrator. Besides bread, you can also ferment fresh homemade yogurt!
The hyper wave fluctuation technology maintains the food temperature low while the air temperature remains high in order to keep the enzymes active. This is a big difference when compared to ordinary dehydrators. However, this and a few other unique features sure add to the price of this appliance. Excalibur 9 tray food dehydrator is made in Sacramento, CA, USA.
- Works with various recipes
- Can cater large amount of servings
- Effective heat distribution
- Comes with a timer and adjustable thermostat
- Patented air-flow system
- You can adjust the trays for making bread and yogurt
- You need to rotate the tray while you are drying
- It is quite expensive
#3. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
This list would never be complete without the Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator. It is among the dehydrators that I adore the most because of its simplicity and efficiency in making jerkies. The capacity of the Presto 06300 is not comparable with the Excalibur, as it is only a four-tray tool. However, I can attest that it is more cost-efficient than most its counterparts. It is my second-best dehydrator after Nesco. It is equally effective and I use it whenever I have to dehydrate smaller food batches. It allows me to save from space and energy. Plus, you do not need to rotate the trays; you would not expect such an advanced feature from a petite unit like this!
This food dehydrator is ergonomic and intuitive. It has a see-through lid which enables you to monitor the cooking progress. Unlike the Nesco FD-75A, the fan of this device is located at the bottom. The heating element is also positioned there so that the air flow and heat distribution would be at optimum level.
Another good aspect of the Presto 06300 is that most of its components are dishwasher safe. Cleaning and maintenance of this device is advantageous along with its compact size and portability. Of course, the process of making jerkies is quite messy. Therefore, such easy cleaning feature is really necessary. You can easily store it the kitchen cabinet. Most of its parts are detachable. Finding room for them is not an issue at all!
I like drying fresh flowers in this. You can just mix them later on to make marvelous potpourris. I am sure you can find many applications and other creative options on how to use your dried flowers. I use mine in arts; the colors and the beautiful smell is adorable. Also, they make for great fresheners to have spring in the house 12 months a year.
The temperature is preset at 165°F, and that is just perfect for making meat jerky. Squeeze the meat strips directly on to the trays with a jerky gun, and then press the on/off button of the dehydrator; it is that easy.
You can store the cord underneath when it is not in use. The power light works as an indicator when the unit is plugged in. Additionally, you can purchase extra drying trays later on if you like. Recipe book is included, and it is full of yummy treat ideas!
- Comes with a preset temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (perfect for jerkies)
- Innovative and intuitive design
- Cost-efficient (doesn’t consume too much power)
- Even airflow and heat distribution
- Easy to store and clean
- You cannot change its temperature anymore
- Doesn’t come with a timer
- Produces noticeable noise while running
#4. Aroma Housewares Professional 6 Tray Food Dehydrator
When choosing for the best food dehydrator for jerky, you should never ignore this product from Aroma Housewares. It is capable of making delicious dried food swiftly and conveniently. What I like the most is the large trays. Specifically, this device comes with six large trays. Each one is 12 x 13 inches, and you can fit lots of food on them without a hassle.
You can adjust the height of each of these trays so that you can cater various recipes. Note that they do not require any rotation during drying. They are made from BPA free material (polypropylene). The door is clear that allows you to monitor the dehydration process.
Once you turn it on, its built-in fan will automatically activate. The fan is positioned at the back and it promotes the optimal and even drying of food. Moreover, it also prevents the dehydrator from overheating. After all, the latter can cause the food to lose its nutrients. Of course, you can fully control the drying temperature of the Aroma Housewares with its adjustable thermostat.
The temperature ranges from 95°F to 160°F. You will also find the suggested temperatures for different food types right next to the on/off button. Crank it to 115°F and make some fresh yogurt for the family.
You can prepare meat jerky in about 8 hours with this; it certainly dehydrates quickly. Some people choose to make pet food in these. It is a great way to prepare meat jerky for senior dogs who do not have teeth anymore.
- Comes with seven temperature settings
- Trays have adjustable height
- Effectively preserves the nutrients of the food
- Smooth and quiet operation
- Front window is see-through
- Doesn’t come with a timer
- The bottom part of this dehydrator is hard to clean
- There is no light inside the dehydrator for monitoring
#5. NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine
The last but not the least is the NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine. It is a multi-layered professional dehydrator that can preserve and dry different kinds of food. In fact, it can even dehydrate various types of jerkies without mixing their flavors! It has an efficient heat distribution too, which promotes even and nutritious food preparation.
The company states that the technology used in this device is scientifically tested and proven that it increases food shelf life. High heat is efficiently circulated in between the trays for even and faster dehydration.
The NutriChef has a user-friendly design. The interface includes a single button that activates the device instantly. Moreover, you can control its temperature with a maximum rate of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. I really adore its speed; you can prepare beef jerky in just under 6 hours easily.
When it comes to capacity, the NutriChef is an ideal choice for small and mid-size homes. It is super compact and comes with 5 plastic trays. You can remove the trays in order to make extra room if you like. Plus, you can add new ones if you need more capacity.
I can say that the NutriChef can shrink and dry the food effectively. Among all the dehydrators featured in this article, this is probably the healthiest option. I can guarantee as well that it can preserve up to 97% of the food’s nutrients. Most other devices can only achieve 90% on average.
Therefore, it is a good dehydrator for those who are on a strict diet! Keep in mind that you can make delicious jerky, but you can also make the meat ready for savory stew and soups. It is also perfect for making oil-free chips from various vegetables.
This portable countertop food dehydrator is stain-resistant and easy to clean. You can easily store it inside any cabinet; it is only 12 x 7.5 x 13 inches.
- Removable trays for easy cleaning
- See-through design for quick monitoring
- Heat distribution is even
- Can cater various types of dried recipes
- Available in 2 colors
- You need to rotate the trays from time to time
- Limited serving capacity
What is a Food Dehydrator Good For?
A food dehydrator is an extremely useful kitchen appliance for drying various fruits and vegetables in the convenience of your home. Additionally, it is also used predominantly for making meat jerky by dehydrating meat strips. Homemade jerky is the best and healthiest. Get yourself a smart jerky gun and a compact food dehydrator to make professional level meat jerky and jerky strips at home. Do not forget to select a quality meat knife too. In short, a food dehydrator’s main purpose is to remove the water out of the food under low temperatures and only within a few hours, usually with the help of a fan element that flows hot air.
How Long Is Dehydrated Food Good For?
If you properly store the dried food, then it can last several years without any contamination. In that sense, fruits are usually good for 5 years, while the vegetables may last for 10. On the contrary, meat jerky can only last for about a month or so in airtight vacuum bags. If you keep it directly in the refrigerator, then this time is reduced to 1-2 weeks. Dehydrating food is the best way to preserve nutritious elements for long periods. Please note that dried fruits and vegetables are best kept in airtight freezer bags. In general, you should avoid humidity, light, and air to extend the lifespan of your dried foods. Try vacuum packing whenever it is available as it is the best option for maximum storage.
What Types of Food Can Be Dried?
You can dry the following food types conveniently in any food dehydrator or oven. You can indeed dehydrate almost all foods, but you have to be careful if you want to dehydrate cheese. It has a high-fat content, and tend to deteriorate faster compared to fruits and vegetables. Also, some items like avocado, butter, and high-fat meats should not be dehydrated. As a general rule, you should not try to attempt to dehydrate foods that are high in fat content. By processed foods, you should think of processed turkey and other poultry. These types of food should not be dried without getting precooked initially since they can contain harmful bacteria. Salmonella and other bacteria can be killed over temperatures that are 160°F and higher. Most dehydrators only go up as high as 160°F.
- Seafood and fish
- Processed foods
What Is the Benefit of Drying Food?
It is unarguably the best method to preserve food without losing its nutritional content. Some of the Vitamin C and A are lost during the process, but we get to keep the most minerals and fibers. It is also very easy to dehydrate your food; all you need is the food itself. You can use a food dehydrator to further ease the process. It is also a smart move to dry your own food when you consider that the high price of dried meat, fruits, and veggies sold at the stores. Keep in mind that dehydrating food is completely a 100% natural process.
Overall, preparing jerkies require the right tools and ingredients. Although it is true that this recipe has a straightforward process, it doesn’t mean that you can do it carelessly. After all, drying has to be precise so that you won’t lose the nutrients of the meat.
You need a quality dehydrator to be able to accomplish that!
Among the products I featured here, it is pretty obvious that the Nesco FD-75A is the best food dehydrator for jerky. It has an awesome heat distribution, thanks to the careful placement of its fan and heating elements. Moreover, the serving capacity of this device is pretty decent as well. Of course, you won’t be afraid of investing on this dehydrator because it has a reasonable price!
Having said that, I still encourage you to try all the food dehydrators that I listed here. It would be great if you have tested all the options before you start deciding. In this way, you can get a unit that would satisfy your needs and preferences.
Good luck in shopping! Have fun!
Did you like this article? Which of these dehydrator do you like the most? Tell us your answers in the comment section below!
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