Food dehydration, also known as food drying, is a food preservation method practiced since ancient times albeit in varying ways across cultures.
In modern times, the process becomes easier and faster, and produces better results, with the use of a food dehydrator, an electrical-powered device that uses heat and air flow in removing moisture from food. The wide variety of food that can be dehydrated include fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, meats (i.e., jerky), and fishes.
One of the more popular food dehydrators is the Magic Mill Pro, a product of Royalux, Inc. and Magic Mill USA. This can be used for removing moisture from food with both high (i.e., fruits and vegetables) and low (i.e., meats) water content. In doing so, it’s a useful tool in restraining the growth of pathogens, particularly bacteria and mold, in the food so it has a longer shelf life.
The Magic Mill Pro is an easy-to-use dehydrator that produces professional results provided, of course, that the optimum drying temperature and time are applied. This is relatively easy with the instruction manual that comes with the unit, as well as a bit of trial-and-error for newbies.
You should be able to dehydrate a wide range of fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, herbs, and fishes. But be careful about dehydrating different types of food since these have different requirements in temperature and time, thus, producing unsatisfactory results. For example, meats have lower moisture content than fruits and vegetables so these shouldn’t be dehydrated at the same time in the Magic Mill Pro.
You can preset the thermostat for the optimum temperature and the timer for the maximum duration of drying time. The temperature range is from 95º F to 158º F while the time can be set up to 19.5 hours. But there should be no danger of overheating, thanks to the rear-mounted fan and automatic shutoff, both of which are standard safety features in food dehydrators.
Just keep in mind, nonetheless, that you should periodically check on the progress of your current dehydration batch to ensure that everything’s going as well as it should be.
Fortunately, there’s no need for rotating the shelves since the rear-mounted fan ensures even drying assuming that food with similar moisture content is dried in batches.
You will find that drying kiwis, strawberries and grapes in one batch followed by meats in another batch will produce the best results. You can even set the recommended timer and temperature settings, leave the dehydrator on for the entire evening and go to sleep. You will find dried fruits with concentrated flavors and nutrients ready for consumption in the morning.
Most of the buyers of the Magic Mill Pro prefer dehydrating their own fruits, vegetables, and meats because it doesn’t involve potentially harmful chemicals, such as additives and preservatives. Buying dried fruits and meats from supermarkets doesn’t have such an assurance since chemicals can be added.
You also have greater control over the quantity and quality of the food for dehydration, even save money on the dried fruits produced since there are no middlemen, literally.
And speaking of quantity, the food dehydrator can be used in drying as much as 6 pounds of food in one go. This is comparatively larger than many home use units, thanks to its six durable plastic adjustable drying racks measuring 13×12 inches. You can put in less than the minimum number of drying racks inside the unit to accommodate larger slices of meats.
Aside from the food dehydrator unit itself, there are several accessories that make it a breeze to use even for first-time users. These include the six removable and adjustable racks, six fine mesh sheets for smaller food and liquid-rich fruits, three non-stick sheets, and one set of oven mitts.
Basically, you can start on a dehydration project as soon as you receive the unit although you must still prepare the food, particularly slice them into thinner pieces and place them on the trays.
The Magic Mill Pro has the following benefits according to its buyers as well as per our personal testing:
- Easy to use with a few settings required to start the dehydration process
- Easy to clean since the drying racks can be removed from the unit and cleaned in the dishwasher or by hand
- Trays fit well into the unit with all trays providing ample space for the food being dehydrated
- Intuitive digital controls with set-and-forget capability
- Improved air flow technology due to the 400-watt rear-mounted fan
- Wide temperature setting suitable for virtually all types of food
- Drip tray catches liquids from the dehydration process so cleanup is faster, too
But even with these advantages, the Magic Mill Pro has a few disadvantages that must be considered before buying it:
- A bit louder when in operation than other food dehydrators with similar capacity with many customers being slightly annoyed by it
- The beeper function can be an annoyance, too
- The packaging style – the traps and drips pans were already installed inside the unit – resulted in several small chunks being chipped off the unit so that these found their way into the heating element and fan.
- The actual temperature, according to a few users, were 5 to 10 degrees lower than the temperature displayed on the unit
- Large dimension isn’t suitable for compact countertops
The Magic Mill Pro isn’t exactly a commercial-use food dehydrator but its large 6-pound capacity trays are suitable for use in homes with higher than average food drying needs. Large households, avid campers, and sports teams are the typical users of the unit although we also observed a few small restaurants using it.
Just imagine being able to dehydrate six pounds of food a day, perhaps double or triple the amount depending on the types of food.
Indeed, the Magic Mill Pro is an excellent choice in a food dehydrator even when it has its minor flaws. You will eventually find ways to work around these flaws, such as turning off the beeper function and checking the unit before using it. Your experiences with the product will be better for it.