A food dehydrator is a small electrical appliance for drying foods indoors. A food dehydrator has an electric element for heat and a fan and vents for air circulation. Dehydrators are efficiently designed to dry foods fast at 140ºF.
Food dehydrators are available from discount department stores, mail-order catalogs, the small appliance section of a department store, natural food stores and seed or garden supply catalogs.
Costs vary depending on features. Some models are expandable and additional trays can be purchased later. Twelve square feet of drying space dries about a half-bushel of produce. The major disadvantage of a dehydrator is its limited capacity.
There are two basic designs for dehydrators. One has horizontal air flow and the other has vertical air flow. In the units with horizontal flow, the heating element and fan are located on the side of the unit. The major advantages of horizontal flow are: it reduces flavor mixture so several different foods can be dried at one time; all trays receive equal heat penetration; and juices or liquids do not drip down into the heating element. Vertical air flow dehydrators have the heating element and fan located at the base. If different foods are dried, flavors can mix and liquids can drip into the heating element.
This document was extracted from "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.