Food Dehydrator – How To Find The Best One For You

Food DehydratorDehydrated food is one of the best survival snacks you should get your hands on.

Dehydrating food is an ancient technique that’s still widely used around the world. And owning a food dehydrator makes it insanely easy to add these snacks to your survival food supply over time.

Drying your own food is an important and worthwhile survival skill to master.

It gives you the ability to turn fresh foods into long-lasting survival snacks at an extremely low cost.

Because we all know, buying large amounts of beef jerky, dried fruits and fish from the store takes a small fortune. It’s much better and easier on the budget to dry your own foods using a food dehydrator.

Plus, your food drying options are almost limitless. You can literally dehydrate anything: fruits, veggies, meats, fish, you name it.

When it comes to dehydrating foods, though, there’s a lot of information and options available. Tons of tips and tricks, lots of good ideas, and hundreds of food dehydrators on the market.

For someone new to food dehydration, the scope of options can seem intimidating.

But don’t worry, that’s why here.

We’re going to deep dive into:

  • Why You Should Dehydrate Food
  • How To Dehydrate Food (ancient techniques)
  • How To Find The Best Food Dehydrator
  • What and How To Dehydrate With Your New Dehydrator
  • Maintaining Your Food Dehydrator
As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our Family First Food Planning Guide. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

dried meats strips

Why DIY Dry?


Food dehydration has been around for tens of thousands of years. The earliest evidence of people doing it is from 12,000 BC!

That means we have been drying snacks for far longer than we’ve been living in cities. That’s how you know it’s such a practical survival skill.

Food dehydration was practiced by people who survived in the ancient wild. Hunters and gathers who wandered across barren, uncivilized lands.

But Why?

First, dehydrated food lasts a whole lot longer than fresh food.

By drying it, you’re removing almost all moisture from the product. Mold, yeast, and bacteria need water, oxygen, and warmth to grow. So, by eliminating moisture from the equation, you’re helping to prevent food spoilage.

So dehydrating food increases its shelf life exponentially.

For example, a fresh banana from the store will last on a countertop for about a week. But if you slice up and dry that same banana into banana chips, it will keep for months (or even years). And you’re retaining almost all it’s original nutritional value.

Food dehydrating is like stopping the food aging process!

Which leads us to the second reason why you should dehydrate food – dried foods are packed with nutrients.

Sure, potato chips last for a long time too. But eating a lot of potato chips is bad compared to eating dried slices of fruits and veggies.

Foods you dehydrate – fruits, veggies, meats, etc. – keep most of their nutritional value.

That ‘s great news if you’re ever caught in an emergency and need nutrients, but don’t have access to fresh foods. With a healthy stock of dehydrated food, you will not have to worry.

And last but not least, dehydrated foods taste great.

Something about sucking all the moisture out of things changes their flavor significantly. It’s why dried mango chips don’t taste like fresh mangos, and why beef jerky doesn’t taste like regular beef.

Dehydrating food is both smart for survival and a delicious everyday snack!

Any food that lasts a long time, is healthy, and tastes good is a perfect survival food source. And dehydrating your own food will save you money.

Sun Dried Tomatoes

How To Dry Food


The easiest modern method for dehydrating your food is to use an electric dryer. But we will get to those devices shortly.

But can still dehydrate food without the need for a high tech food dehydrator.

Our ancestors have been drying food for most of human history – long before electrical sockets and batteries came along.

How Did They Do It?

Two main ways.

Using The Power Of The Sun

The first is still popular today – especially with tomatoes: sun drying.

It’s a straightforward process that begins with selecting good produce. The best ingredients will make the best-dried produce.

Fruits should be cut into thin slices. And veggies (which have lower acid levels and spoil faster) should be cut into cubes, or diced.

Spread your cut produce out on paper-lined trays or, better yet, cloth covered wooden frames. Protect the food from insects using cheesecloth.

Set the trays outside, and turn the food occasionally for even dehydration.

At night, bring the drying produce inside. And if rainy weather moves in you can save your batch with some last minute oven-drying.

Another conventional method for sun drying is to hang foods on a string, protected with cheesecloth or a screen.

The benefit to doing this is you do not have to turn the produce as often as it dries.

Now placing your food in direct sunlight or a shaded area will affect the finished product.

Most foods dried in the shade retain both color and flavor better. But it takes longer.

Food dried in direct sunlight will dry a lot faster.

Some people recommend “pasteurizing” your dried food, once it’s finished drying. You can do this by popping it into the oven (at 175-degrees F). Ten minutes for veggies, and fifteen for fruits.

Using The Power Of The Wind

The second method for drying food is wind drying.

Place the food slices on a mesh tray outside letting the power of the wind suck out the moisture.

Obviously, for this method to work, you need consistent wind.

Luckily, dehydrating in the wind does not need a hurricane force winds. In fact, you can wind dry your food inside with a fan.

Just place the trays or racks of goodies in front of the fan and let it sit. Chemistry will do the rest.

Storing Your Dehydrated Foods

After your food is all dried out and ready to store, get yourself some plastic bags.

Zip-locks work, but the best option is to use a quality vacuum sealer, so all the air and moisture is out of the storage container.

Another option is to use mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to remove the oxygen after it’s sealed.

Always make sure your storage container is air-tight and void of moisture!

If any humidity gets locked in with the food, it will spoil. And there’s nothing worse than breaking into your survival food to discover your dried snacks have gone bad when you need them most.

Finding The Best Food Dehydrator For Survival


While using the sun or the wind to dehydrate your food is free, but it’s definitely not the most efficient method to dehydrate. Not anymore, at least.

Electric food dryers speed up the drying process exponentially. Plus they help produce much more consistent and reliable results.

They are simply the best way to dehydrate food.

And there are tons of them out there!

No matter what size, style, or price you’re looking for, there’s a food dehydrator out there for you.

Here are a few of the most popular food dehydrators that are best for survival and preparedness:

Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro 

This is our favorite and the food dehydrator we recommend.

The Nesco Snackmaster Pro food dehydrator has a thermostat that allows you to dry different foods at the proper temperature for that food (95º-160º F).

It includes 600 watts of drying power.

The Nesco comes with 5 trays, but you can also expand this unit all the way up to 12 trays (trays are 13 1/2″ in diameter).

Opaque exterior supports blocking of harmful light which can destroy the nutritional content of food being dehydrated.

This unique drying system forces air down the exterior pressurized chamber (not through the trays). The hot air is forced horizontally across each individual tray, converging on the core for fast, even and nutritious drying.

So there’s no flavor mixing and no need to rotate trays.

An all-around excellent food dehydrator that one of the most popular ones at a great price.

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Gourmia GFD1950 Digital Food Dehydrator

If you want to go big, this is your best option.

With nine trays, this is a huge dehydrator, capable of drying lots of food at one time.

The Gourmia GFD1950 has a digital timer and transparent front door so you can keep an eye on the progress of your dehydration.

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Excalibur 3900 Tray Deluxe Dehydrator

This family-sized option is hard to beat.

It offers 15-square feet of drying space, spread out over nine trays that stack vertically on top of one another.

The Excalibur 3900 trays are easy to clean poly screens and the unit comes with a built-in adjustable thermostat.

This allows you to adjust the temperature/speed at which you dry your foods.

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Nutrichef Food Dehydrator Machine

The Nutrichef is an easy to use dehydrator does its job at the press of a single button.

It comes with five removable trays that stack vertically.

The Nutrichef Dehydrator is compact and fits comfortably on a countertop or table.

But because of its smaller size, you’re limited on how much food you can dry at any given time.

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Food Dehydrator Hanging Drying Net

Not all modern-day food dehydrators require electricity!

This simple hanging net food dehydrator provides users with a non-electric drying alternative.

It can be used for sun drying or wind drying and comes with a protective netting to keep bugs out and let the sunshine in.

The Hanging Net Drying Dehydrator includes four shelves and compresses down into almost nothing for super-easy storage.

Not just that, but at this price, it’s by far the most affordable option on this list.

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Food Dehydrator Rating Chart


Dehydrated Fruit

What To Dry And How to Dry It


Food dehydration is not limited by many factors.

If it is fresh, and it has moisture in it, you can probably dehydrate it.

That means fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables are all fair game. But the process is different for each, and for some foods, you can add spices for a little flavor boost.

Fruits

Apples, mangos, pears, bananas, plantains, tomatoes, grapes, peaches, oranges, dates, etc.

Dehydrating fruit takes, on average, 8-12 hours of dry time to reach full dehydration. And you should let them cool for about 60 minutes before packaging. This allows any excess moisture evaporate.

Some people spice their apples with a little bit of cinnamon sugar before placing them in the dryer. This sweetens up an already delectable treat.

The same can be done for just about any fruit, before dehydration and packaging.

Vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots, corn, peas, potatoes, etc.

As with fruits, veggies take about 8-12 hours to dehydrate fully and should be given an hour to cool.

With veggies, you can get creative with your spices as well. Add some chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic salt, or black pepper to spice things up.

Meats

Pork, beef, venison, rabbit, turkey, chicken, pheasant, etc.

Meats take longer than anything else to dehydrate because of the texture of the flesh.

Allow from 6-24 hours for meat, depending on the thickness and type.

Don’t be afraid to try different kinds of spices to alter the flavors of your meat. Dried salted pork is a popular favorite. But you can also rub venison or beef in a red chili rub, or a garlic lime infusion.

Fish

Freshwater fish, saltwater fish, shellfish, cephalopods, etc.

Fish lands between veggies, fruits, and meats, on the dry-time scale. Fish should be left to dry between 10-15 hours.

Wind drying is popular with fish because there are often consistent winds near oceans and lakes.

You should add salt to dry your fish. And not just for flavor’s sake, but also because it adds extra preservative qualities to the meat.

Salting fish doubles down on the preservative power of your dehydration process.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our Family First Food Planning Guide. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

Dehydrated Mushroooms

Maintaining Your Dehydrator


Just like any other kitchen appliance, dehydrators need regular maintenance. Luckily, most modern dehydrators make this easy.

The most significant thing to watch out for is shelf cleanliness.

After each dry, remove all the shelves and wash them to remove any leftover food particles. For some dehydrators, this is easier than for others.

That’s why when shopping for a food dehydrator you should look for ones with washable shelves. Otherwise, you’ll be doing most of the cleanup by hand.

It’s also good to scrub the inside of your dehydrator after a few uses.

Drying foods can leave a slight residue on the inside of your dehydrator that builds up over time. If left for long enough, the residue could start to change the flavors of future foods you dry.

For example, your dehydrated fish might get a fruity smell. Or your dried veggies might develop a fishy taste. No one wants that!

The solution is easy: once every three or so uses, thoroughly scrub the inside of your dehydrator.

The Final Word


Stocking up on non-perishable survival food for an emergency or a disaster is an absolute must. But some survival foods don’t taste all that great. And a lot of them lack the necessary nutrients to get you through a dangerous survival situation.

Dehydrated foods offer a tasty, healthy, long-lasting way around that problem.

It gives you the ability to preserve food you grew, foraged for, caught or hunted yourself.

Knowing how to use the wind and the sun to do this is very useful in survival situations.

But having your own modern electric dryer is even better. It speeds up the process and makes for more consistent, reliable results.

Invest in a food dehydrator and start stocking up!

It’s so easy.

Just start drying every week, and build your food stockpile of dehydrated foods will grow. And when disaster strikes, you will be thankful to have all that tasty dried food at your fingertips.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our Family First Food Planning Guide. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.
Will Brendza

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