Dried food has plenty of fans for good reasons. When food, such as fruits, vegetables, and meats, is dehydrated using a modern food dehydrator, its flavors become concentrated while its nutrients are preserved. Dehydrated food also has a longer shelf life and becomes lighter in weight, both of which are desirable characteristics for campers, hikers and others who want snacks and meals on the go.
But store-bought dried food isn’t as healthy as its makers want consumers to believe because these products are usually filled with additives and preservatives, such as sugar and salt, for longer shelf life. Consumers are better off making their own dried food at home with the likes of the Westinghouse WFD101W, a compact food dehydrator with a relatively large capacity. The results are better, too, in terms of full control over the flavors of the jerky and the crispiness of the dried food, among others.
This Westinghouse food dehydrator isn’t exactly a top-of-the-line product in comparison with other food dehydrators but in its simplicity lies its beauty for most consumers.
- Control panel
There’s no second-guessing with the operations of this food dehydrator, thanks to the easy-to-use control panel. You can easily set and see the temperature setting, thanks to the knob-style temperature selector control. You can also manually turn on and off the unit via the on/off switch, which has a built-in indicator light.
- Adjustable thermostat
The temperature settings range from 95 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, thus, the food dehydrator can be used for a wide range of food. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, and meats including venison, pork, and meat, even fish, can be dried in it, said food of which can be used for several purposes. You can, for example, use the food dehydrator for preparing homemade dog food as well as dried food for snacks and meals, both for everyday use and for sports activities (e.g., hiking and camping).
Keep in mind that each type of food will require a different temperature and time for drying. You have to take into account the moisture content of the food, as well as your desired level of crispiness and concentration of flavors. You should also consider the environmental factors that affect the interior temperature of the food dehydrator, such as air temperature and humidity.
But the heating element isn’t the only crucial aspect in effective food dehydration. There must also be good air circulation inside the food dehydrator for two reasons – first, it promotes even drying and second, it eliminates the need to rotate the trays. This unit, according to the manufacturer, comes with an advanced air flow drying system for this purpose, which can be seen with the great results.
The food dehydrator has a 250-watt engine, so to speak. This is significantly lower in comparison with other dehydrators, which have 500 to 1,000-watt capacities. But if you’re looking for an affordable basic food dehydrator with a capacity sufficient for a small household’s food dehydration needs, then this is a great choice.
But you have to consider whether you can live without a timer in a food dehydrator. You have to set an alarm on your kitchen timer or your smartphone just so you can be alerted about the optimum time for dehydration being reached. You should then manually switch off the dehydrator, which can be inconvenient when you have other things on your daily schedule at the time.
- Stacking trays
There are five stacking trays that come with the unit. The drying area should be enough to accommodate a few kilos of food although the actual number will vary depending on the type of food being dehydrated. You can, for example, place the lesser amount of meat into the trays than fruits and vegetables since the former is usually thicker in size (i.e., slices).
The trays are also easy to wash in the dishwasher. Be sure to wash the trays before using them for the first time, as well as apply a thin coating of cooking spray when meats are being dehydrated for best results. Wash the trays after use, too, so that these can be maintained and, thus, used for a long time.
The five trays are also easy to stack on top of one another while the lid sits on top. You should have no problem loading on and taking off the trays, a convenient feature that many buyers observed. Besides, you don’t want to be wrestling, so to speak, with stuck trays full of dried food since everything may well end up on the floor.
The trays also have a great feature. These can be turned 180 degrees, which can increase the space between the trays for larger pieces to fit well. Be sure to read the directions about this feature to get the most out of it.
The Westinghouse WFD101W may be a basic food dehydrator but it has the following notable features:
- Compact dimensions suitable for average-sized kitchen countertops
- Adjustable thermostat for setting the right temperature for each type of food for dehydration
- Easy-to-see display panel with control knob for temperature setting and on/off switch
- Good airflow for efficient drying
- Five trays with sufficient capacity for a small household’s food dehydration needs
- Good overall design
But the Westinghouse WFD101W has its share of disadvantages, too:
- A few buyers complained about the durability of the plastic components, which cracked within a few months of use while one complained about the unit arriving cracked in a few places.
- Additional trays aren’t available apparently.
- No timer so a manual alarm and manual switching off are necessary.
The Westinghouse WFD101W is a basic food dehydrator with five trays, adjustable thermostat, and fan but without the timer. If you can overlook the absence of a timer, then Westinghouse WFD101W is a good choice in a budget-friendly yet effective and efficient food dehydrator for home use.
In the end, your application of the basics of food dehydration will partly determine whether you will have successful results every time. You can do your research about these things including recipes to expand your knowledge.