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Best Food Dehydrators 2014

Updated on August 1, 2014
Owning a dehydrator is a pathway to many culinary delights.
Owning a dehydrator is a pathway to many culinary delights.

Now that you are looking for the best dehydrator, you must already know that a food dehydrator can make life better for you in so many ways. Dehydration will keep the original nutritional content of food intact, while intensifying the aroma and improving the shelf life without preservatives. Dehydrated food such as fruit rolls make mouthwatering and wholesome snacks that will help you maintain a healthy diet. A dehydrator will also give you the means to produce expensive dalicacies such as jerky at a fraction of the store prices and save a lot of money in the long term.

This article consists of food dehydrator reviews that cover the products of top selling brands and provide impartial accounts on the pros and cons of each item. Having read through this page, you will be knowledgeable about the most popular dehydrator models and it will be up to you to choose the one that will best help with your food drying goals.

How to Choose the Best Food Dehydrator

The first step to getting the perfect dehydrator is to be clear on what you are looking for. The right food dehydrator can be discerned by checking for a number of features. Let us see what these crucial features are before proceeding to the dehydrator reviews.

Fan: While most dehydrators do have a fan to circulate warm air around the food, some of the cheapest units actually attempt to dry food by just heating it. Such dehydrators are time consuming and inefficient and you had better avoid them.

Fan Location: If the fan is at the bottom of the appliance, food stuff will inavitably fall into the fan and it won't be easy to clean. That's why you should choose a dehydrator with a top or side fan.

Thermostat: Different foods need different temperatures for optimum dehydration. Nuts can go rancid at temperatures over 110 ℉ whereas meat needs more than 150° F so that all bacteria are killed. To be able to dry the different food types efficiently, a decent dehydrator must have a temperature adjustment feature.

Timer: A built-in timer allows you to set the machine and forget about it. This is not a must, yet it can be handy.

Build Quality: Every now and then we come across some report about a cheap dehydrator that met an untimely end by frying itself. It is best to pay a little more for the high-quality dehydrator now, than pay for a second one later and have to throw away the spoiled jerky.

Ronco 5-Tray Dehydrator

Ronco has a very cheap and outdated product that could hardly be called one of the best dehydrators. Surprisingly, there are lots of people who opt for this item probably because of the price. With so many people interested in this product, I had to write a word or two about it. That is why Ronco 5-Tray Dehydrator found its way into this list.

Ronco dehydrator lacks some very important features that every dehydrator is supposed to have. First, it has no fan. It dries food by simply heating it through convection. Naturally, it is silent but that's not an advantage because it takes forever to dry the food. There is also no temperature control. Officially, it works at 133 °F but in fact the bottom trays reach a higher temperature while the top trays remain cooler.

Lack of features is one thing but Ronco also has serious durability issues that have made it one of the worst rated products ever. I've seen dozens of complaints about Ronco dehydrator's trays melting and deforming during use, the heating unit burning and all sorts of incidents that result in the device going to garbage and together with the food. Given the terrible reviews it receives, Ronco could hardly be called reliable.

In short, Ronco is a very cheap dehydrator but negative user reviews suggest that buying it for the price could be a mistake. It also does not have some of the key features you should be looking for in any dehydrator. Luckily, there are dehydrators from other brands at a similar price and unlike Ronco they actually work.

Presto Dehydro Food Dehydrators

Presto dehydrators are not perfect but they can do the drying job and they last. Presto offers a viable alternative to the cheaply built Ronco dehydrator.

Presto dehydrators are pretty simple devices that dry food with the help of a heating unit and a fan. They've got trays placed on top of each other. These dehydrators will dry all types of food within a few hours. They also come with a number of non-stick mesh screens and sheets that you can use in combination with trays. More trays, screens and sheets can be bought if needed and all parts except the bottom can be rinsed or placed in a dishwasher.

There are no major complaints about Presto. It is just reported to be a bit noisy but that's not a serious issue for a dehydrator. Presto dehydrators look quite reliable and well-built.

Unfortunately, Presto food dehydrators' fans are located at the bottom. That causes the fan to get dirty when the food spills and makes the dehydrator harder to clean. Also, the air circulation is system is quite basic, blowing the air right through the trays. This is likely to cause the smells from different foods to mingle with each other, although not many people seem to complain about this.

There are three models by Presto. They are quite similar except that 06300 has no thermostat while 06301 and 06302 can be adjusted between 90 °F to 165 °F. Temperature adjustable models have more trays and 06301 also has a timer. If you decide to purchase a Presto Dehydrator, my advice is to choose one of the models 06301 or 06302 because the temperature control is a very important feature. The lesser model is an option only if you are strict about getting the cheapest possible dehydrator.

All in all, Presto food dehydrators do the job and people who purchase this brand often end up quite satisfied. They are very economical, too. With that being said, Nesco dehydrators reviewed below have comparable prices and their design is more refined with somewhat better features. Make sure you check out Nesco before you make your final decision.

American Harvest Nesco Dehydrators

Nesco dehydrators cost no more than the above reviewed products and yet, they are packed with features that put them one step ahead of lesser food dryer machines. In fact, there is good reason to suggest that Nesco products have one of the best price to performance ratios in the whole dehydrator market.

Two key design tweaks make Nesco stand out from all other dehydrator brands.

First, the fan is located at the top and that eliminates any risk that of the food spilling into the fan compartment. All parts expect the electric top part can be washed easily.

The second nice thing about Nesco is a special feature named the Converga-Flow Technology. This is basically about how the air is circulated inside the dehydrator to minimize flavor mixing and allow for even drying of several trays. Instead of going right through the trays, the air in the Nesco dehydrators first travels across the outer shell of the device and goes over each tray separately, going back up through the central cavity. Air from one tray will rarely go into another tray, if at all. That does not mean you should go forth and dry onions and apples at the same time but as verified by customer reviews, Nesco dries stuff better, quicker and with less mixing of aromas.

The fan units for the Nesco Dehydrators are imported from China and all other parts and accessories are made in USA. The plastic parts of Nesco are BPA free so you have no reason to worry about your health.

I have not come across any consistent complaints about Nesco dehydrators expect for the cheapest FD-37. FD-37 has no thermostat, has a power of only 400 watts and reportedly dies much quicker than other Nesco products. The cheaply built FD-37 is apparently an attempt to cater to people on a budget and I do not recommend it. All other Nesco Dehydrators are well-built, they last long and do the job quite efficiently.

To name some of the most popular Nesco dehydrator models; there is Snackmaster FD-60 with 500 watts, Snackmaster Pro FD-75 with 600 watts and Gardenmaster FD-1040 with 1000 watts. The trays for the Snackmaster series iare 13 inches in diameter while the larger Gardenmaster models have 15 inch trays. All three have thermostats that can be set from 95 °F to 160 °F and the Gardenmaster additionally has a timer. Nesco Dehydrators come with 4 or 5 trays depending on the model but know that they can always be upgraded with extra trays if you decide you need more capacity.

To conclude, premium quility, clever design and affordable prices have come together to make Nesco a top dehydrator brand. Nesco food dehydrators are definitely recommended to anyone looking for quality at a competitive price.

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