Even in modern times with refrigeration technology available, food dehydration is still among the best food preservation methods. This isn’t surprising since the process can be done at home, thanks to modern food dehydrators, aside from concentrating the flavors, nutrients, and texture of the dried food.
Doing the process at home also means there’s little to no use of possibly harmful additives and preservatives in the dehydrated food, thus, increasing its health value.
But there are dozens of food dehydrators in the market today so choosing the best one for you needs and wants in it can be a challenge. This is especially true for products with no recognizable brand name and manufacturer, as is the case with this 5-tray electric food dehydrator. But don’t dismiss it as easily as even a no-brand food dehydrator can deliver satisfactory results when it’s used properly.
The trick is, indeed, in applying the right procedures in food dehydration to get the most use out of this 5-tray unit. There are many tips and tricks involved in food dehydration including but not limited to:
- Slicing the food for dehydration to the right thickness with each type of fruit sliced differently to achieve the desired results. Apples, bananas, and pears, for example, should be sliced as thinly as possible to make them into chips. Meats like beef and venison can be sliced into 1-inch thick strips for better crunch.
- Setting the right temperature and time for the types of food being dehydrated. Keep in mind two things – first, fruits and vegetables have higher water content than meats; and second, air temperature and humidity should be considered when setting the temperature for the dehydrator. The duration of drying is important, too, since you don’t want to make the food too wet and too dry by being too short and too long, respectively, in the dehydrator.
When you know the basics of these tricks, you can maximize the basic features of this no-brand food dehydrator. You may even find that the brand recognition factor doesn’t even make a dent in its performance! Your proper use of it plus your basic knowledge in food dehydration are the more important factors in this case.
The food dehydrator has five large removable trays that can accommodate as much as 2-3 kilos of food depending on their type and thickness. You can, for example, place 2 kilos of beef to make jerky in it but 3 kilos of fruits and vegetables since the latter foods are sliced more thinly. You can also remove a few of the trays in case the food being dehydrated was sliced more thickly.
The trays may or may not be applied with cooking spray prior to the dehydration process. But for meats, the cooking spray is recommended to ensure that the slices will not stick to the trays. Just be sure to remove excess oil, if any, from the dehydrated meat afterward before placing the jerky inside vacuum sealed bags for future consumption.
While you may want to simultaneously dehydrate fruits, vegetables, and nuts with meats, the combination isn’t recommended. This is because the food dehydrator can only maintain a single set temperature throughout the unit. The soft food will then dry at a different rate than the meats, thus, the unsatisfactory results.
The food dehydrator uses low heat levels and flow-drying system in evaporating moisture from the food and, thus, preserving it. This basically means that it is equipped with a heating element and fan, both of which are essential in the effective operations of modern food dehydrators. The heating element introduces the heat for evaporating moisture while the fan ensures good air flow throughout the unit.
The thermostat can be set according to the recommended temperature, too. You should have little to no issues with the thermostat since it holds true, so to speak, to the temperature you set for it. You will, however, be bummed to know that the food dehydrator doesn’t have a timer, a make-or-break feature for many consumers.
The timer is a must-have for many consumers for a good reason. You have to turn off the dehydrator when the recommended dehydration time has been reached since there’s no automatic shutoff feature. You are well-advised to set an alarm, such as on your smartphone or on a kitchen timer so that you will not forget to turn off the unit at the right time.
The absence of a timer aside, this unit still works well as its branded counterparts. Besides, many branded food dehydrators don’t have the timer function, too, with most of them more expensive than this 5-tray unit.
The food dehydrator also has a compact size so it’s easy to use in an average-sized kitchen. When not in use, it is also easy to store since the trays can be nested, so to speak, for compact storage. Be sure to clean the interior and exterior parts of the unit after use and before storage for maintenance purposes.
The non-branded electric food dehydrator has these pros:
- Five large trays can accommodate a few kilos of food for dehydration
- Adjustable shelves since less than the maximum number of trays can be placed inside the unit
- Adjustable temperature for a wide range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and meats
- Easy-to-clean dehydrator and trays, which can be washed in the dishwasher
- Affordable price
The disadvantages include:
- No timer
- No company apparently to call in case of product issues
- No accessories like a jerky gun and sheets
In a world where brands and brand recognition are valued, the use of a non-branded electric food dehydrator may seem counterintuitive. But when you come to think about it, this 5 Tray Electric Food Dehydrator has the same basic features as many other more expensive basic food dehydrators (i.e., no timer). You will get satisfactory results from the dried fruits, vegetables and herbs as well as meat and fish jerky when you use it well.
You’re not paying for the brand name itself, which can be expensive, but for the functional features – and for budget-conscious consumers, it’s among the most important aspects of buying products.