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How to Use a Food Dehydrator

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How to Use A Food Dehydrator for a Raw Vegan Diet

At An Oasis of Healing, we focus on developing ways to heal your body through food. That starts with studying the nutritional profile and health benefits of different foods. As a result of this study, we design delicious meals that are minimally processed and loaded with healing foods, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

In this journey, we use kitchen appliances and tools to make food preparation easier and raw vegan meals delicious. We aim at whole or minimally processed foods. However, we do use different preparation methods (that are still considered food processing) that enhance the taste profile of our dishes. One of those appliances that becomes an essential tool is the food dehydrator.

What is a dehydrator and why should you buy one?

We call the food dehydrator the “raw foodist oven,” because it helps you achieve the “cooked feeling” without having to cook your foods and maintaining all the nutrients and enzymes naturally present in healing foods.

Read some of our previous posts to learn more about the benefits of raw food and why we don’t cook food:

If you love raw vegan food, but miss the warmth and flavors you can achieve when cooking, then the dehydrator is for you. With a dehydrator, you can preserve the natural enzymes in food while still enjoying many of the tastes and sensations of cooked/baked food.

What type of food dehydrator should I buy?

There are two main types of dehydrators: vertical flow and horizontal flow (flow refers to the airflow from the engine that allows the dehydration process). Let’s look at their basic characteristics to help you choose a dehydrator.

Vertical Flow Dehydrator

  • Also called stackable unit food dehydrators.
  • The heat source is located at the base or the top of the dehydrator.
  • Don’t spread the heat uniformly (food on different trays dehydrates at different rates).
  • Flavors can be mixed, due to the vertical flow of air.
  • In general, more affordable than horizontal dehydrators.
  • Can have various shapes and forms.
  • Can usually be expanded with the addition of trays.
  • Stackable, lighter, and easier to store.
  • Usually made with plastic materials.

Horizontal flow dehydrator

  • Also called a shelf tray food dehydrator.
  • The heat source is located in the back of the dehydrator (more similar to an oven).
  • Heat spreads uniformly through all the trays (even dehydrating time between trays).
  • It is less likely that flavors will mix.
  • Often more expensive than vertical models.
  • Usually box-shaped form.
  • Not expandable.
  • Usually bigger, heavier, and take up more space.
  • Can be made of food-grade stainless steel.

We recommend a horizontal flow dehydrator, which is what we use at An Oasis of Healing kitchen.

Why?

Horizontal dehydrators have many benefits:

  • More drying space
  • The trays are easy to insert and remove
  • The trays and dehydrator are easy to load with food
  • Allows more flexibility in terms of vertical space – you can omit a tray if you need extra space
  • Option of a stainless steel dehydrator, instead of plastic

Most importantly: the food is uniformly dehydrated in each tray and between different trays.

Excalibur® is one of our favorite dehydrators. The only downside is that it is made of plastic and a bit noisy. For a silent dehydrator, we recommend the stainless-steel Samson®.

How to use a dehydrator

Dehydrators are usually very simple to use.

Features to look for

Helpful features are a thermostat, a timer, and an auto-shutoff system. This will allow you to select dehydration temperatures, times, and the possibility of shutting off when you are not present. Considering that foods dehydrate at different rates, and may require different temperatures and timing, these are important features for your dehydrator. Furthermore, food may take 24 to 48 hours to dehydrate (or more), and you can often forget it is there, so being able to set your dehydrator to shut off automatically can be very useful.

Temperature

We recommend dehydrating most foods at a temperature of 105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, to preserve the nutrients and heat-sensitive enzymes that you want to get from healing foods. The exception might be certain “thick” or “dense” dishes, like bread, crusts, and loaves, that may require a higher initial temperature to speed up dehydration and prevent the growth of mold.

Time

Dehydration times vary greatly depending on the type of food you are dehydrating. It might be two hours to two days or more. Follow recipe instructions, and check texture and consistency to make sure you achieve the desired results. That said, dehydrators are very “forgiving,” meaning even if you forget food or let it dehydrate for too long, it won’t usually greatly impact the final result.

If the food you are dehydrating is meant to be stored for a long period (weeks or months, like dehydrated nuts and seeds, or tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.), then try it and make sure it is dried throughout to avoid microbial overgrowth during storage and improve preservation.

What can you make in a dehydrator?

Sometimes people buy a dehydrator, and they don’t know what to do with it, so it ends up forgotten in some corner. We are here to help you change that! We will introduce you to some of the possible uses of a dehydrator, along with recipes that you can try right away!

Recent Posts

Dehydrators have many uses, which include:

  • Dehydrate nuts and seeds after soaking, to make them crunchy again.
  • Marinate vegetables and intensify the flavor of the foods. When vegetables are placed in a marinade, and then put into a covered glass container for 1 to 2 hours in the dehydrator, they will soften and appear cooked in texture as well as appearance.
  • Thicken sauces: You can place your sauce in a glass container without a lid for 2 to 3 hours in the dehydrator, it will reduce the liquid content, much like “reduction” in traditional cooking.
  • Create sprouted, seasoned, and dehydrated travel snacks like tamari almonds, seasoned pumpkin seeds, and cheesy kale.
  • Speed up the fermentation of young coconut, nut or seed yogurts and cheeses.
  • Make crispy crunchy food like crackers and chips.
  • Slow “bake” sprouted bread.
  • Soften coconut oil gently.
  • Make delicious & healthy granola.

Dehydrator Recipes

On our blog, An Oasis of Healing blog, you can find some of the best recipes using a food dehydrator. Here are some of them:

Find much more on our website! And we will soon share some fun and delicious dehydrated snack recipes with you!