NutriChef touts itself as a reliable direct marketing retailer of consumer appliances including a line of food dehydrators, such as the Electric Food Dehydrator reviewed here.
This is a home use NutriChef Electric Food Dehydrator with the capacity to dehydrate fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and meats including venison, beef, and pork. This isn’t a commercial food dehydrator mainly because of the limited space, a point that must be made early on.
Food dehydration is a method of food preservation wherein the moisture from the food will be evaporated by the combination of heat and air flow from the heating element and fan, respectively.
The process results in dried food with more concentrated flavors, lesser weight, and longer shelf life, all of which are essential for many people like hikers, camper, and athletes. Before the development of the modern food dehydrators, the process usually took days for each batch but it can now be done within the day.
The NutriChef Kitchen Dehydrator has a simple one-button operation that even first-time users of a food dehydrator will appreciate. But it still pays to read the instruction manual, perhaps watch a few YouTube videos about food dehydrators, just to get the hang of it on your first try.
You will find plenty of tips and tricks in making the best possible use of the unit, such as in ensuring that the trays aren’t packed to the brim for even drying.
A few customers also observed that aligning the trays was a tricky aspect of using the NutriChef Kitchen Dehydrator. The issue was caused by the trays being all the same side up regardless of the desired thickness for each level. This can be resolved by aligning the corners when you want thinner levels, such as for apple slices, and turning the trays 90 degrees for thicker levels, as in beef jerky.
When you have figured out this trick, you will find that it’s easy to align the trays with the food for dehydration in it. You can pack the trays as full as it can go but it isn’t recommended because then rotating the trays becomes a must. You will likely rotate the shelves more times than convenient for your busy schedule, thus, the suggestion.
Before placing the food for dehydration on the trays, you have to carefully prepare them for the best results. This is true for all food dehydrators so it isn’t a disadvantage, far from it. The preparation includes cleaning the fruits, vegetables, and nuts, for example, removing their peels or shells, if necessary, and slicing them before placing them on the tray.
The sliced food should be placed in an organized way so that even drying can be achieved. You may have to rotate the shelves or take out dried food from the batch, which are minor inconveniences. You are, after all, getting healthier dried food without the additives (i.e., sugars and chemicals) and preservatives found in supermarket-bought dried food.
The thermostat can also be adjusted depending on the desired temperature for the food placed on the trays. The food dehydrator can reach temperatures of up to 180 degrees, the ideal temperature for beef jerky.
The set temperature should not only account for the moisture content in the food – fruits and vegetables have higher water content than meats, for example – but also for the environmental humidity and air temperature.
But the NutriChef Kitchen Dehydrator has a serious flaw that many food dehydration fans say immediately turned them off, so to speak. There’s no timer on the unit so you have to set an alarm for it, which means you have to be actually around or awake to turn off the food dehydrator, when necessary.
This is a major inconvenience for people who want the set-and-forget capability of many food dehydrators with similar prices as the Nutrichef unit.
Unlike many food dehydrators, however, the NutriChef unit has a relatively quiet operation. You will likely not hear the slightly annoying sound, usually similar to the hum of a larger refrigerator in a small room, present in many other food dehydrators.
The unit already comes with five stackable trays. You should be able to dry a few kilos of food per batch with ease, partly thanks to the high-heat circulation flowing through each try. You should again check the progress of the food dehydration process on a periodic basis to ensure that, indeed, everything is going as well as expected.
The entire unit itself and the trays are easy to clean if you know the proper way. You should wipe the exterior and the interior of the unit with a clean cloth to prevent the accumulation of dirt, dust, and debris including food stains. Your next step is washing the trays in the dishwasher, which should be an easy fit.
The food dehydrator can sit on a countertop because of its compact dimensions. You can store it in a cabinet when not in use as well.
The NutriChef Kitchen Dehydrator has the following pros:
- Easy to set up
- Easy to use with its one-touch button operation
- Compact dimensions
- Use for a wide variety of food including fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and meats
- Quickly dehydrates food while maintaining their nutrients and flavors
- Relatively quiet operation
- Easy to clean
The NutriChef Kitchen Dehydrator has the following cons that make it less attractive to customers:
- No timer so setting an alarm is a must to ensure that the food doesn’t become too dry, thus, lessening its flavor values
- Need to rotate the trays and get food that has dried faster than the others
- Limited capacity suitable only for home-based needs
The NutriChef Kitchen Dehydrator has its design flaws, such as the absence of a timer, but these are usually minor issues that can be resolved with a few tricks. You can, for example, start the dehydration process during the morning so that the dried food will be available in the evening or do it during the weekends when you’re at home. You will find that this product provides a good value for your money if you’re looking for one with basic features yet deliver effective results and efficient costs.