How to use a food dehydrator?

Author: Daniel Gasteiger  |  Category: food dehydrator, food dryer

It seems food dryers seduce a lot of people to buy, but then lose favor and end up in closets or, better for the rest of us, in yard sales. Thank goodness for the Internet. So often it seems people pick up inexpensive second-hand food dehydrators and then turn to the Internet for information on how to use them.

Among the questions people ask:

  • There are adjustable vents on my food dehydrator. How do I use them?
  • How long does it take to dry fruit?
  • There’s a temperature knob on my food dryer. What temperature should I use?

Food Dryer Vents

Make sure the vents are open. It probably doesn’t matter which setting as long as air can move through the food dryer. Perhaps closing the vents down a bit for light-weight items such as herbs, flowers, and seeds will slow airflow and keep things from moving around too much.

How Quickly Fruit Dehydrates

“Fruit” is a very broad term. Fruits with thick, undamaged skins (grapes, for example) can take 24 hours or longer to dehydrate while thinly-sliced fruits such as strawberries, bananas, and peaches can dry in six to ten hours.

Set the Thermostat on Your Food Dryer

If your food dryer has a temperature knob, set it as follows:

  • Fruits and vegetables – 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Herbs – 90 to 100 degrees
  • Meats – 150 to 160 degrees

It’s important to blanch vegetables and herbs before you dehydrate them to provide the greatest possible shelf life.

Properly dried fruit is leathery. Tear a piece and examine the edges. If moisture beads along the tear, continue with the drying. Dried vegetables should be brittle or crunchy. Dehydrated meat should feel dry, but it shouldn’t be crisp.

Food dryers come in a variety of designs. If you’ve purchased a second hand machine, search online for the manufacture’s manual. Most manuals have instructions specific to both the food dryer and whatever you might wish to dehydrate in it.

Leave a Reply