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The Pros & Cons of a Food Dehydrator

Cheryl Munson

Food dehydrators remove the water from natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables. This, In turn, prevents the growth of enzymes and bacteria and preserves the food, saving you money since produce does not go bad before you can eat it. It's also a convenient way to keep nutritious food on hand indefinitely for future snack attacks.

Pro: Saves Money

A dehydrator encourages healthy eating.

A food dehydrator can save you money in multiple ways. You can take advantage of limited-time sales at the grocery store to stock up on produce by buying in bulk when it's in season and inexpensive. You won't have to worry about having to throw things away because you didn't eat them before they turned bad. Dehydrated foods don't spoil nearly as rapidly as fresh foods.

Pro: Fruits Taste Sweeter

The dehydration process intensifies the sugars in fruits so they taste sweeter, even though they really aren't. Fruits are particularly good for dehydrating and are the easiest food group to start with when learning how to use a dehydrator simply because they store more moisture than other foods, so they dehydrate easily. Good fruits to start with include apples, apricots, peaches, pears, berries and cherries.

Pro: Healthy and Convenient Snacks

You can make healthy and nutritious snacks like beef jerky and dried fruits to put in your own trail mix. When you go camping or even to the movies, all you have to do is grab a bag of homemade snacks and shove it in your purse. Dehydrated foods travel well. Carry some with you in the car to help you bypass fast food restaurants when you get hungry and stick to foods that are healthy and nutritious.

Con: Dehydration Processing Time

You have to dedicate time to dehydrating foods. Once you start, you can't stop. Remember that fresh foods are "alive" and active. Enzymes react to air and other factors. Vegetables should be blanched, cooled and dried straight from the garden. Fruits should be dried as soon as possible after harvest for the best flavor. If you stop in the middle of the process, you also invite mold and other bacterial organisms to develop. Always finish what you start when using a food dehydrator.

Con: Reduces Vitamins A and C

One down side to food dehydrators is that they reduce some of the vitamin A and C content in fruits and veggies. This happens during the drying and dehydration process, and can't be avoided. There are techniques, such as exposing fruits to sulphur before drying, that have been developed to counteract this loss. Consult your model's manual for guidance on what you can do if this is a potential problem.

Con: Adjusting to Taste and Appearance

If you're new to eating dried foods, this might be your biggest hurdle to overcome. The foods you dry at home with your food dehydrator taste and look a bit different from dried foods you purchase from the snack aisle in a store. Apples may look darker, and the heightened sweetness may come as a surprise at the first bite. However, many food dehydrator owners actually prefer the look and taste of homemade foods versus store-bought. For newbie dehydrator users, it's really just a matter of adjusting to something new and learning what foods you prefer dried versus fresh.