So you want to get into this world!
We've waxed lyrical in other articles about why this is such a great past time and way to prepare foods. Thousands of people across the world are coming across this method of both preserving foods and creating delicious new recipes and for good reason.
It's not often health benefits and unique end products that you can't replicate elsewhere collide.
So let's talk what is best for a beginner.
Before you go any further with this article it's best you take a few quick minutes to go over our Vertical flow vs horizontal flow article. That page gives a breakdown of the differences between the two main dehydrator types. It's important to know the pros and cons before you look at which actual unit suits best.
With that out of the way let's talk about what you need to consider as a beginner. There's a few areas to thing about that will guide you towards the best unit for you.
There are some dehydrator units out there that are just about the size of a house and have enough digital features to beat you at a game of chess if you put it in front of a board. It's fair to say as a beginner you just want the basics to play with.
If you do have some specific types of foods that you want to dehydrate for health reasons or just a certain recipe you expect to use a lot it's best to think about how much space that item will take up.
Some fruits are very compact to dehydrate whereas other items like cuts of meat to make jerky with and larger fruit or vegetables take up a lot of space.
It also comes down to where you'll be using the dehydrator. If you're planning to have this unit sit on the counter of a busy family kitchen then you won't have to worry too much about noise, but size might be an important factor.
Some units have a very small base size but are stacked up vertically quite high. These can be quite useful for storing on a kitchen counter where you need the rest of your space for cooking and preparing food.
Volume and frequency
A simple one here. How much do you expect to put in your unit and how often?
You don't need a massive dehydrator to get a good amount of produce going but it's worth thinking about a slightly larger unit or one that can have extra trays added to it if you think you'll be using it a lot.
Other units, often on the cheaper end of the spectrum, will put out a little more noise. This isn't so much of a problem if you are in a busy room but some buyers will want a small personal unit that they can install in a place like a studio flat or bedroom.
If that's the case a constant noise from the unit working its magic can be an irritating feature and can lower your enjoyment of the dehydrating process to the point where you'll never even use the thing.
Where to start
Now that you understand the main types and the above considerations let's talk actual products.
We'll start with two products that we've linked elsewhere. This is for good reason – these two cover most of the range of buyer a beginner will fall into.
We included this offering from L'equip in our best dehydrator brands page for a very good reason. It's consistently voted as one of the most accessible and highest quality dehydrators available.
This one is the most expensive we'll be putting on this list.
If you're a beginner to dehydrating but you've done your research and feel you need a higher end unit that has some handy features, great tray space and a particularly solid build quality then this is unquestionably the one for you.
We went over some features in the previous article that we'll summarize again here.
- Ten year warranty! We'll always shout this one out the loudest. A company who knows their product is poor won't ever put out a warranty at no extra cost like they have with this baby. It speaks volumes about their confidence in this dehydrator and for good reason – it's awesome.
- Six trays to start with of good size and the option to expand this all the way up to twelve trays. That's a great starting amount and the option to steadily move up to a very impressive amount of tray space should you have the need
- A strong 500 watt electric dehydrating system means that this one can handle fruit, vegetable and much more all by itself. You won't need any other heating and drying to fully process your foodstuffs
- It looks lovely! Perhaps unsurprisingly L'equip know their style and this smooth slate gray base and lighter shade main body look very modern and will fit in great in any kitchen area
We gave the Dehydro pride of place in our Best food dehydrator brands page for a very good reason:
High quality, low price.
We looked at a range of different products to cover the rock bottom price entry level unit. Sadly, the vast majority of these were awful.
Reviews were all over Amazon and other sites of poor quality, cheap dehydrators that broke after a single use. Heating elements would burn out the bottom trays that had to be put in for the unit to function. Trays would break with mild handling. Heating elements would fail and even if they worked would be so poor at producing high temperatures that you couldn't even dehydrate with it.
Thankfully we found the Presto which has none of these problems. It's lovely to see such an economically priced unit have close to all 5 star reviews on Amazon.
Let's summarize why that is.
- Four trays gives you a modest but suitable amount of space to get started with. It's absolutely enough for one or two people to regularly use throughout the week
- A very convenient and simple see through top to keep an eye on drying progress
- With the cord winding up into the base and the trays nesting together it's a very compact unit that is perfect to fit onto a counter top then pack away on to a shelf or in a cabinet
- The temperature range is enough to get the job done, unlike others in its price range!
We always advise researching enough that you know clearly what you need from your dehydrator.
The Presto is awesome for that reason. Buy one at very little cost and play with it to see what you like doing and where you need more. You might never even move beyond it!
It's not often a review will shout about a product for being low price and having less features compared to going on about a cutting edge monstrously priced beast of a unit. We're happy to do just that with Presto's budget dehydrator. It hits all the buttons for its target market of the beginner who doesn't want a poor product.