Making dollars stretch in the grocery department is always handy. Having nutritious, non-perishable snacks on hand is possible without the high price. Preparing jerky or trail mix can be achieved at half the cost when you do it yourself. It is as simple as making a small investment in a food dehydrator. Controlling exactly what seasonings go into the food, along with how much salt or sugar is added, is easily obtained when you learn how to dry food yourself. It is also an easy way to preserve food that may otherwise be thrown away.
The basic parts of a food dehydrator consist of a heating element, a fan, air vents for air circulation, and food trays for the items to dry on. The goal of using a dehydrator is to reduce the water content of the food down to 15 or 20 percent. Removal of moisture helps ensure that the food will not grow bacteria and spoil. It also preserves and extends the shelf life. The heat warms the moisture out of food, and the air flow blows the moist air out through vents. The higher the wattage of the dehydrator, the faster the drying will occur.
Food dehydrators come in different sizes according to your need. Don’t buy a large dryer for infrequent drying or small batches. Pick a size with appropriate racks, and consider what you are drying. For instance, don’t mix meats and fruits. Drying similar items together prevents over and under drying. The Nesco Vision 500 Food Dehydrator is a good base model to start with. It has 500 watts and 4 clear trays. Other starter models are the Nesco Snackmaster Express and the Nesco Snackmaster Encore. Both have 500 watts, adjustable thermostats, and top mounted fans. All of these dehydrators make jerky, trail mix, apple and banana chips, dried soup mixes, potpourri, and dried flowers.
The Nesco Gardenmaster Digital Pro is an all around excellent dryer with 1000 watts, and a top fan that dries food in hours instead of days. The adjustable thermostat and 48 hour digital timer allows you to tend to other things while your snacks are drying. The flexible screen allows for the drying of smaller items, like herbs and spices. This dehydrator comes with 4 trays and can expand up to 20 trays. The Nesco Snackmaster Professional is a 700 watt model with 5 trays. Another 700 watt model is the Nesco Snackmaster Square. It contains 4 trays. Saving money on food is really easy and fun by using use a food dehydrator.