Electric Food Dehydrators: What They Are and How They Work


Excalibur Food Dehydrator

Drying Food for Emergency Preparedness

I first became interested in food dehydrators about five years ago quite by accident. I never in a hundred years thought my kitchen cupboard would house one of those space-craft-looking contraptions. I'd shake my head and wonder what all the fuss was about — until I joined forces with those who dehydrate food on a regular basis.

This turnaround came about by realizing I did not have (enough) backup food for any emergency situation that may arise. You see, our family lived through two back-to-back hurricanes in 2004 and we quickly found out how unprepared we were.

As fresh food rotted and the frozen food thawed, a need to have some (any!) emergency food on hand became readily apparent as we sat through more than a few weeks of trying to keep calm, cool and collected — without the household power that we all take for granted.

What is an Electric Food Dehydrator?

Electric food dehydrators are simply made of a food-grade plastic with shelves or trays, a top- or rear-mounted heating element and an air-circulating fan. To be able to dehydrate food safely, it's simply a case of removing the water from the food until it's dry enough to vacuum seal and store.

The dehydrator must be set at the right temperature. (In future posts, I'll cover what temperatures to use for fruits, vegetables, and cooked meats). If you use too high a heat, you'll end up with case-hardening. This means the fruit or vegetable ends up with a tough outer crust and a still-moist inner — which is a no-no and can become a breeding ground for bacteria. We don't want food spoilage in your kitchen!

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