Do’s and Don’ts – How to Use a Food Dehydrator

Using a Food Dehydrator – Do’s and Dont’s

So you’ve decided you want to start dehydrating your food – you’ve heard of the health benefits, the money savings, and the variety of things you can do with a dehydrator.

Before you just start throwing some foods into your new dehydrator (how about the Excalibur 3926t?) – there are some things you need to be aware of.  Following is our list of Do’s and Don’t for how to use a food dehydrator

DON’T:

  • Put your food into the dehydrator in large chunks or in whole pieces.  This might sound obvious but people have asked the question about whether they could just put foods into their dehydrator “whole”

DO:

  • Try to slice your foods to an even size – preferably into 1/4 inch pieces.  This gives the food a good amount of surface area and will speed up the drying process.  Your foods will also dry in the same amount of time when they are sliced into the same width.

DON’T:

  • “Set it and forget it”
DO:
  • Check on your foods every once in a while.  Not too often, but you should check to see the drying process.  Foods closer to the fan (for example in a vertical unit where the fan is at the bottom) will dry out quicker than foods in an upper tray.  To ensure each food is dried properly you want to check their progress.  You can also rotate trays to evenly dry out foods.
DON’T:
  • Put your foods away into storage immediately after you remove them from the dehydrator – they can sometimes still have liquid in them that will dry out further as they cool.
DO:
  • Give your foods a “cool-down” period after you remove them from your dehydrator.  They will store longer and remain better flavored if you do this.  The extra time will ensure you get as much liquid/water out of the food before storage.
DON’T:
  • Put all of your foods on one tray if you are making a bunch of different items.
DO:
  • Spread your foods out evenly throughout the different trays.  Try to keep the spaced evenly and you will get more efficient and quicker drying.

DON’T

  • Place certain types of foods together.  Obviously some foods give off stronger smells and odors than others.  If you dry them all together you have the potential of spoiling some of your foods.
DO:
  • Try to dry out similar foods together – dry veggies with other veggies.  Dry fruits with other fruits.  Meats can be an exception.
DON’T:
  • Assume you can place raw meat into a dehydrator and it will “cook”
DO:
  • Cook poultry and fish before dehydrating – but meats (game, steak) can be made into jerky from a raw or rare state.

DON’T:

  • Put food into storage without identifying when it was dried and what it is
DO:
  • Always label your stored dried food – you should place the type of food that was dried and the date.  This will give you the ability to know what has been around longer and what needs to be consumed sooner.
DON’T:
  • BE BORING and make the same stuff over and over
DO:
  • EXPERIMENT!!  Try different foods in the dehydrator, try different recipes, try foods you don’t normally enjoy – you may find that you like them when they’re dried.  For example: I dislike (with a passion) Okra…but I recently tried dried Okra, and to my surprise, I could eat them all day!
There you have it, some of our best “DO’s and DON’Ts” for how to use a food dehydrator.  
Do you have any questions?  Any that you think we left off?  Let us know in the comments!

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