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How to Use a Food Dehydrator

Are you trying to learn how to use your food dehydrator properly? While the appliance is simple and easy to use, you’ll find that there are a lot of different ways to dehydrate your food. And, you’ll find that dehydration will not be consistent from one time to the next unless you have a lot of experience.

With the right tips, you’ll find that it’s easy to make dried fruit, beef jerky and other treats.

nesco fd-75a used

The Arrangement

If you have foods overlapping each other, you’re going to have flavors mixing together and may even hamper the process. Instead, you’ll want to utilize all of your appliance’s trays:

  • Keep the same food items on one try when possible.
  • Never let food items overlap.
  • Allow for space between each item.

If you have a smaller machine and can’t spare much space, just make sure that your foods don’t overlap, and you won’t experience any flavor mixing.

Choose the Right Temperature

The temperature matters a lot when you’re dehydrating. You’ll find lows as low as 94 degrees and highs that can reach 145 degrees. But, you don’t want to use the highest temperature often because it can cause your food to dry too much and become brittle.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your temperature in the 104 – 106 range.

If you’re drying meat, you can set the temperature to 130 – 135, but you’ll want to keep a close eye on the meat at all times. It’s a delicate process, and the higher the temperature, the more diligence is needed to ensure that food doesn’t become too dry.

Check Your Food Often

There are a lot of factors which can cause the process to over dry or under dry your food. Everything from the moisture content of the food to the humidity in the air will have an impact on the drying process.

Fruits and veggies can take 2 – 19 hours on average to dry properly.

With every food taking a different duration to dry, it is a game of trial and error to ensure that none of the items become overly dry. This can be done by checking on your food regularly and rotating the trays as necessary. Many units will come with trays that automatically rotate, so you don’t have to take this extra step.

If you see that no moisture beads are left on the food, it is done.

Also, don’t be afraid to cut into the food and test its dryness level. This is an easy way to tell the moisture level of the food in question and learn the visual cues needed to tell when the process is complete.

Store Properly

You want to store your items in a sealed container and in a dark, dry place. You’ll often find that items lose their crisp texture and feel; this occurs because moisture has made its way back into the food. If this does occur, simply put the food in the dehydrator for 1 – 2 hours to remove the excess moisture.