Best Food Dehydrator Reviews

dehydrate-herbs-spices

Dehydrator are a simple and easy way to dry herbs, preserve foods and create healthy snacks. With so many different electric dehydrators on the market it can be hard to figure out which is the best dehydrator for you.  Do you need stackable trays?, should you have vertical or horizontal air flow?, how many watts is optimal?, the decisions can be overwhelming.  So to help make the decision simple for you we have put together a review of the following 5 best food dehydrators on the market today.

 

Benefits of Dehydrators

We all know that it is better to eat healthy, non processed foods, but we all fall into the trap of grabbing a chocolate bar or bag of chips just because its readily available. If only our cupboards and lunch bags were filled with tasty yet, nutritious, good for us snacks.  Food dehydrators, food drying and preservation have made healthy homemade healthy snacks a much easier option without having to spend lots of time cooking or deciphering complicated recipes. We found some really great dehydrator recipes on homesteading.com that you should check out.

Dehydrators can help us process and preserve all sorts of herbs, fruits, vegetables and meat, keeping them available all year round.

 

BEST DEHYDRATOR COMPARISON TABLE

ModelModelAirflowAdjustable TempTraysWattsPrice
Excalibur 3900BHorizontalYes 105 - 165 °9600$$$
Magic Mill ProHorizontalYes 95 - 158 °F6400$$
Nesco FD 1018AVerticalYes 95 - 160 °F8 - 301000$$
Nesco FD 75AVerticalYes 95 - 160 °F5 - 12700$
Gourmia GFD1750HorizontalYes 104 - 158 °F10550$$$
 

 

WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A FOOD DEHYDRATOR

 A food dehydrator is usually built with several individual trays where the food is placed for drying. There are different types of dehydrators each of them offering different options such as: timers, adjustable thermostats, see through covers, fans and so on. While most dehydrators are easy to use, some are more technical and would require an expert to operate them, as in the case of industrial dryers. Here we focus on the dehydrators for home use. 

Here is a breakdown of the different features available on home dehydrators that you should consider.

 

1)VERTICAL vs HORIZONTAL AIR FLOW:

VERTICAL FLOW DEHYDRATORS have the heat source and fan mounted either on the top or the bottom of the machine and is commonly found in the models with stackable trays. Machines with the bottom mounted heat base can provide uneven heat flow and make it harder to dry tougher foods such as jerky meat. But his can be solved by rotating the trays throughout the drying process. Since some food can be messy we prefer the top mounted dehydrators as they do not have the risk of getting drips in the fan which could cause problems. 

HORIZONTAL FLOW DEHYDRATORS have the fan and heat source located on the side or back of the machine.  In most cases the horizontal flow of of the air provides more even drying than the vertical flow dehydrators. But the horizontal airflow tends to take longer to dry out the food compared to the vertical flow machines and tend to be more expensive than their vertical flow counterparts.

TEMPERATURE RANGE. Some of the lower priced food dehydrators do not have an adjustable temperature control.  Sometimes his can cause the problem of case hardening (when the outside seals leaving moisture inside), when foods are being dried at too high of a temperature to quickly.   Having the ability to adjust the temperature to suit the product being preserved is preferred.  Approximate temperature settings for food types are:

Herbs and Spices - 95°F
Nuts and Seeds - 105°F
Fruits and Vegetables - 135°F
Meats, Fish and Jerky - 160°F

You should always refer to the manufacturers instructions for the temperature setting for you particular machine. 

 

2) TRAYS vs SHELVES:

STACKABLE TRAYS have the benefit of allowing you to add more trays than what comes with the machine (refer to the manufactures instructions on the maximum recommended for you model). For example the Nesco FD 1018A come with 8 trays but this can be expanded to up to 30 giving you a total of 30 sq. ft. of drying space. The downside of the stackable trays is that you can't just slide out a tray if you want to check the progress of the drying.  Also the height of you food is limited to the depth of the tray height (approximately 1 1/2 inches), so if you plan on dehydrating any bulky items the shelf model would be a better choice.

SHELF DEHYDRATORS have the benefit of allowing you to just pull out a shelf if you want to check the progress of the dehydrating. Additionally you can remove shelve if you need additional height to dehydrate bulk foods or crafts.  The down side is that due to the box shape of the machines you are limited to number of shelve you can have.

 

3) EXTRA FEATURES:

TIMERS: Some dehydrator such as the Excalibur 3926TB are equipped with an automatic timer.  Although this is not necessary it can be a handy feature so that you don't over dry your foods buy forgetting to turn off your machine. You can set it and forget it!.

CLEAR TRAYS AND COVERS: Some manufactures offer clear trays or doors on their dehydrator. This can make it more convenient to check in on drying progress without needing to unstack or open the door on your machine. Not a necessary feature but a nice one to have. 

MESH SHEETS INSERTS: Mesh sheets are used when dehydrating small, fine produce like herbs and spice. These sheet prevent small pieces falling through the trays or getting stuck in the holes on the regular trays.

FRUIT ROLL SHEETS: These are solid inserts that are used when dehydrating anything that starts out runny, such as fruit leather. These also can be used in place of the Mesh inserts.

 

 

BEST FOOD DEHYDRATOR- DETAILED REVIEWS

 

Excalibur 3900B

The Excalibur 3900B is a 9-tray dehydrator with 15 square feet drying space that allows for the easy drying of fruits and vegetables without needing manual rotation. It is constructed to dry food to the barest minimum moisture level while keeping the food safe and hygienic with its easy to clean poly screen tray inserts.

It includes an adjustable thermostat temperature control (105-165⁰F),  making it perfect for drying beef jerky, fruits, vegetables or  to re-crisp bread and biscuits etc. This dehydrator uses a horizontal airflow system (which is parallel and exclusive to Excalibur) with a back unit where the fan, heating element, and thermostat are attached in such a way that allows cool air to be drawn in, heated and evenly distributed over each tray.

This allows the food to dehydrate faster with more concentrated nutrients which is said to give a better taste and flavor. Unlike any other dehydrator, the Excalibur 3900B states that it dries "safer, better, and faster" because of its patented "hyper wave fluctuation technology" which makes the temperature fluctuate up and down to prevent even drying  or for moisture to tray inside the dehydrator.

The fluctuation technology process helps to keep enzymes within the food active, dry the food and prevents the growth of yeast, mold or spoilage of dried food. It has a 4.7-star rating among customers who have tested and used the product.

 

Features and specifications

  • Dimension: 12.5’’ (H) x 17’’ (W) x 19’’ (D)
  • Voltage: 110V
  • Watts: 600watts
  • Hyper wave fluctuation technology
  • Airflow: Horizontal (Parallax)
  • Tray: 9
  • Timer: No
  • Built-in on/off switch

  • Adjustable thermostat (105-165⁰F)
  • Poly screen tray inserts
  • 15 square feet space
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 22pounds
  • Rating: 4.7
  • Warranty: 10 years

 

 

Pros
  • Dehydrates faster and better
  • Yields safe and ready to eat food
  • Easy to clean and operate
  • Large size for bulky food items
  • Dries a large batch of food at a time
  • Suitable for large families
  • Even distribution of heat over food
  • No need for manual tray rotation

Cons
  • More costly than other models
  • Noisier than other models
  • No timer
  • Need to lift the lid/trays to monitor progress

Verdict

The Excalibur 3900B is no doubt one of the best food dehydrators for herbs, fruits and vegetable you can own in the house. It makes it easy for you to make your own preserved food at the temperature that suits you best and store them for as long as you want to. With the Excalibur 3900B dehydrator, you can have healthy dehydrated snacks in no time.

 

Nesco Fd75a

Looking for a simple home dehydrator, then the  Nesco FD75a is recommended for you. This dehydrator features a top mounted fan with a drying capacity of 700watts. It has a built-in adjustable thermostat at a temperature of 95-160⁰F.

With the vertical flow, this dehydrator does not require manual tray rotation and it operates with a  patented "Converga flow" system that allows  quick drying of food. This model comes with 5 food drying trays but  has the capacity of taking up to 12 trays if you buy extra.

The dehydrator vertical,  centrifugal air flow is directed inwards through every tray thus allowing you to dry different food items without the flavors mixing.  It also features a Vita-Save opaque exterior that protects the dried food from harmful lights. It is very easy to wash with other dishes in the dishwasher.

Unlike the Nesco FD 75pr that is shipped in retail packaging, the 75a model is shipped in "certified frustration-free packaging". The product also contains 2 solid "fruit roll up" sheets, 2 mesh sheets, and 3 jerky spice packets with a recipe book to help you try out different healthy recipes.

Features and Specifications

  • Dimension: 13’’ x 13’’ x 10’’
  • Weight: 7.5lb
  • Drying area: 4.5 square feet (for 5 drying trays) 10 square feet (for more)
  • Top mounted fan
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Vita-Save opaque exterior
  • 5 trays (fits more, up to 12)

  • 2-Solid sheets
  • 2 mesh sheets
  • 3 jerky spice packets
  • Temperature: 95- 160⁰F
  • Watts: 700
  • Airflow: Centrifugal (with the Converga flow system)
  • Rating: 4.5
  • Warranty: 1year

Pros
  • High drying capacity (hours not days)
  • Centrifugal airflow that allows inward flow of air through food items
  • Fits well on countertops or below raised cabinets
  • Can take up to 12 drying trays, which allows it to dry more at a time
  • Flavors do not mix
  • Does not require manual rotation
  • Easy to wash in a dishwasher

Cons
  • No timer
  • Low power effectiveness i.e. you spend the same power drying less quantity of food as with drying more.
  • Less base capacity
  • No on/off switch
  • Need to lift the lid/trays to monitor progress

Verdict

The Nesco FD 75a dehydrator is light and easily portable. It is an affordable price meaning that anyone can easy preserve herbs and food fresh from the garden. With the Nesco FD 75a dehydrator, you can be sure to have a dried food with a 100% nutrient retention, and low moisture content. It is rated 4.5 among customers who are all very happy with this dehydrator.

 

NescoFD-1018a

The NescoFd -1018a is a plastic, white colored dehydrator which comes with  8-drying trays but can take as many as 30 tray in one go. Unlike some plastic equipment, the Nescofd-1018a is free from carcinogens and does not overheat even after multiple uses.

It consists of 8 fruit rolled sheets, 8 clean-A-screens, 1 jerky and spice cure packet and a recipe book. It has an adjustable thermostat with a temperature range between 95-160⁰F enabling you to regulate the temperature you need for a particular food item. It has a power capacity of 1000 watts that allows you to dry food faster in hours; what other appliances take days to do.

It features a powerful functioning fan that runs at 2400 RPM that makes it work four times faster than dehydrators without a fan. The NescoFd-1018a dehydrator is built with a Vita-Save body to protect food product from harmful light. It also operates on the Converga flow system and the air flows  on every food tray and assures you of a uniformly dried food item.

Features and Specifications
  • Dimension: 15.9’’ x17.2’’ x 17.2’’
  • Tray dimension: 1.2 x 16.5 x 16.5’’
  • Cord length: 36’’
  • Weight: 29 pounds
  • Power: 1000watts
  • Air flow: Vertical
  • Category: Stackable
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Converga flow system

  • VitaSave opaque body
  • Material: Plastic (Polypropylene)
  • Digital timer
  • Temperature: 95-160⁰F
  • Fan size: 4.5’’
  • Fan capacity: 2400RPM
  • Rating: 4.4
  • Warranty: 1year

Pros

  • Dries fast and efficiently
  • Does not overheat
  • Easy to clean
  • Temperature can be regulated and adjusted
  • Gives even drying
  • Comes with extra accessories
  • Affordable to own
  • Strong power capacity
  • Drying pressure adjusts automatically to the number of trays

Cons

  • A bit louder than other brands
  • No timer
  • Need to lift the lid/trays to monitor progress

Verdict

The NescoFD-1018a is great for those who need the option of dehydrating very large batches at once (up to 30 trays).  Although this dehydrator has one of higher price tags on the list, it is an affordable appliance for those who are serious about dehydrating for their family or business. The only feature we feel this dehydrator is missing is an automatic timer. It has a 4.6-star rating among customers who have used it.

 

 

Gourmia GFD1750

 The Gourmia 1750 dehydrator features a digital control LCD panel where even a "newbie" can easily regulate the temperature and all other operations needed to dry or preserve herbs and food.

It contains 10 drying trays, with 7 levels of drying temperature. The front door has a transparent window so it is easy to see and monitor the progress of the food drying. Also included in the pack is one "jerky or sausage sure hang" drying rack. The door of the dehydrator is magnetic, so you don’t have to worry about a slightly opened door.

The dehydrator works on 48 hours drying time and  features a Circumsmart 360⁰airflow system. It has a sleek modern design.

Features and Specifications

  • Magnetic door
  • Digital timer
  • Digital control center LCD panel
  • Color: Black
  • Circumsmart 360⁰ airflow
  • 10 drying trays
  • 1 sausage hanging rack

  • Power: 550W
  • Voltage: 120V-60Hz
  • Size: 10.25’’ x 15.5’’ x 15’’
  • Weight: 11.5 Lbs
  • Drying time: 48 hours
  • Rating: 3.9

Pros
  • Even drying
  • Easy to use
  • Digital time and temperature control
  • Affordable price
  • Looks great on countertops
  • Transparent door to monitor drying progress

Cons
  • Some reviews mention timer issues
  • Could be noisy at times
  • Instructions need to be printed
  • Trays need to be manually rotated

Verdict

The Gourmia 1750 is suitable for drying fruits and vegetables and has the advantage of being left to work while you get on with another work as it will go off on its own in time. It is an affordable appliance for the kitchen and with this dehydrator; you don’t have to worry anymore about throwing away spoilt food. It has a 3.9-star rating among customers who have used it.

 

Magic Mill Pro

One of the best food dehydrators for herbs, the Magic Mill Pro features outstanding components that make it unique among others. It has a rear mounted fan that allows even drying. Along with its adjustable thermostat, the dehydrator also has a digital thermostat and timer that allows you to leave your food to dry without worry while you go about other activities.

The Magic Mill consists of six spacious and adjustable stainless racks, six plastic fine mesh trays, 3 nonstick trays, 1 set of oven mitts and a drip tray that collects residues after drying. The Magic Mill has a drying time of 19-20 hours at a temperature of 95 158⁰F.

An overheating safety precaution has been put in place to prevent overheating while using the equipment. Its airflow circulation technology also allows for a horizontal distribution of air within the dehydrator.

Features and Specifications

  • Rear-mounted fan
  • Automatic shut off
  • 5 hours of drying time
  • Temperature: 95-158⁰F
  • 6 stainless racks
  • 6 plastic trays
  • 3 nonstick trays
  • 1 set oven mitt
  • Color: Black

  • 1 drip tray
  • Airflow circulation technology
  • Dimension: 12’’ x 17’’ x 19’’
  • Watt: 400-450
  • Airflow: Horizontal
  • Product type: Stainless
  • Rating: 4.6
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros
  • Digital timer and thermostat
  • Drip trays for collecting residues
  • Even drying
  • Automatic shut off
  • Bigger and more spacious
  • Dries faster
  • Noiseless
  • Affordable
  • Effective heat distribution

Cons
  • Timer is not reliable
  • Frequent plastic smell
  • High power usage

Verdict

The Magic Mill Pro is an effective dehydrator that is recommended for every home and factories. It is fast and reliable and you can definitely get the best-dried fruits out of using it. It is affordable and convenient to use, while you monitor every process as it works. It is definitely worth its price and rated 4.6 among others.

 

Check out this article from humoroushomemaking.com for 40 great idea to use your dehydrator for. Or our article on Preserving and Drying Herbs

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