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From dried strawberries to beef jerky, food dehydrators can save you time, money and energy, and who couldn’t benefit from getting a little help in the kitchen from time to time? While we know this small appliance probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about picking up a new kitchen appliance there are multiple ways to use a food dehydrator and tons of perks to having one on hand.
If your first thought about buying a food dehydrator is “what about just using your oven?” Unfortunately, depending on the age of your oven, there’s a chance it might not offer the ability to set it to the same low temperatures that a dehydrator can reach, such as 140 degrees. You really do need a dehydrator.
Aside from making the usual go-to items like fruit leather, these mini workhorses are powerful little wizards that can help you make homemade potpourri, dried pasta and breathe crispy life back into stale cookies and crackers. If you’re curious how one might fit into your life, here are seven food dehydrator benefits to consider.
Extend The Life Of Your Produce
Ever reach for an apple only to see it’s got a big soft spot on it? Frustrating, I know! Dehydrators use circulated low-level heat to extract moisture in food, which helps prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and year. This small but mighty act extends the shelf life by months. Packaged dried fruits and jerky are also costly, so doing it yourself is a double-win.
Buying fruits and vegetables in bulk when they are in season (and then dehydrating them!) can also help you keep more hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
Get Out Of A Food Rut
When moisture is pulled out of food, flavor intensifies. Fruits become sweeter, and herbs become brighter. Make granola exactly how you like it, or if you have a sweet tooth, you can create your own nutrient-dense dried berry mix or coconut-mango topping to sprinkle on yogurt.
Cut Back On Food Waste
The longer food stays fresh, the greater the chance that you’ll be able to eat it. If you tend to overbuy food, a dehydrator can help stretch your food budget by ensuring items don’t go to waste. Since dehydrators use less electricity than a traditional oven, they can also save you on energy costs.
Make Homemade Preserved Food
If you’ve ever taken a minute to read the ingredient list on a package of dried mangos or bananas, you already know that it can be hard to find options where sugar, oil or preservatives haven’t been added. When dehydrating food at home, you can keep the ingredient list limited to only one ingredient.
Go Beyond The Basics
Sure, you can dehydrate most fruits and vegetables (except for olives and avocados), but did you also know that you ferment yogurt, make dog treats and re-crisp stale crackers with this handy little device? Additionally, you can dry fresh pasta and create DIY art projects, like paper mache, with the little ones in your life.
Have Versatile Food Options
Food dehydrators can be the perfect companion to the all-or-nothing home cook. The beauty of these devices is that you can dry multiple items simultaneously, which is perfect if you’d like to stock up. Whether you spend one weekend a month or a quarter preserving meats and the like, it will pay for itself tenfold right out of the gate.
Create a Well-Stocked Pantry
A lot of things can be dehydrated. And we mean a lot. Aside from the obvious fruit options, like strawberries, bananas and apples, there are also protein options, like beef, chicken and salmon, herbs, beans, pasta entrees and more. Having a well-stocked pantry with whole-food ingredients can help you feel more prepared to cook on a whim. Plus, it can help you save money in the long run.
Pro tip: Evenly cut food into small pieces and make sure to leave space on the tray before dehydrating. If you prefer a chewy texture, dehydrate for a shorter amount of time.
Would picking up a food dehydrator give you a leg up on healthy eating this year? Could you see yourself dehydrating fruits and beans or making art projects with your little ones? If you’ve never considered a food dehydrator, one might just be the unexpected kitchen appliance you need.