I’ll admit it upfront – I don’t dry food as much as I should. I get lazy and buy online, letting the Man In Brown bring me packages from my favorites PackitGourmet and Harmony House Foods. But there are things I cannot buy readily (dried artichokes, cooked and dried gourmet rices, pastas, etc) so I keep a dehydrator around. Having a stockpile (or stores) of ready to go foods is great for easy hiking plans come summer time! Instead of packing a couple bricks of ramen and a few $10 commercial meals you can actually go plan good tasting and good for you meals – easily.
We have a basic Deydrator 101 on Trail Cooking to get our readers going. Be sure to scroll down and go through the pages, it covers everything from beans, meat, grains and even cake! Once you have the knowledge then start making meals!
I personally use a L’Equip Dehydrator:
I picked it up a couple years ago and replaced our previous dehydrator, a Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster Dehydrator:
That one was perfectly fine but I craved the styling of the L’Equip – being rectangle and sleek in looks. It dries just the same (although I feel it is a bit better), just isn’t as clunky looking on my counter. But let us put it this way – Nesco’s work well. They are work horses and are very affordable. If you want to start drying food to save money, save on the dehydrator first! Sure looks are something but as long as it gets the job done quickly, a lot can be over looked My good friend Cat inherited ours and was just fine using it (free is best, no?).
Nesco also makes a couple other good choices, all affordable. The FD-75 is well reviewed by many:
Nesco FD-75PR 700-Watt Dehydrator
And they make a neat square model as well:
Nesco/American Harvest FD-80 Square-Shaped Dehydrator
There are other brands of course – most of which like the L’Equip are pricier. A good example is Excalibur – whose dehydrators are made in the US – which for some folks is a big issue and worth the extra cost (kind of like how I can justify buying organic food over China imported food).
The 9 tray super one they make is quite nice but also retails for nearly $270 (a good $200 over a base Nesco!) Excalibur 3900 Deluxe Series 9 Tray Dehydrator:
Whatever you do, please for the love of everything do not buy the cheapie ones such as a certain company that rhymes with “Bronco”. You will end up buying 2 dehydrators – that first one and then a real one. It isn’t that they don’t dry – the problem is that many sub-par dehydrators don’t have an adjustable temperature setting or worse? They don’t have a fan. If you live in an arid environment it isn’t as big of an issue than say if you live in a humid or damp part of the country. No fan in the PNW and you will have food going bad before it dries. The issue behind having one temperature setting is you get one setting: desert blast. While you can make it work you have to baby the food, making sure to move the trays around often to get everything equally dry. So as you pass that “AS SEEN ON TV” store in the discount mall, please, please keep walking on. That $20 dehydrator will drive you crazy! Go to Amazon and at least buy a Nesco!
And hey, for all you cheapos – you can also just use your oven. And use the saved money to go buy more organic produce