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Eat Healthier and Save Money with Food Dehydrators
Do you know how many servings of fruits and veggies you should be getting every day, according to the Canada Food Guide? For most adults, it's between 7-10 servings a day. (A single serving works out to 250ml of leafy raw vegetables or 1 piece of fruit.)
Now think about how many fruits and vegetables you consume on an average day. If you're like most people, it's probably quite a bit less than 7-10 servings. But don't feel discouraged! You can still take charge of your health with the help of a food dehydrator.
These useful appliances not only help you eat healthier, they can also help you save money and reduce waste. Read on to find out how a food dehydrator can fit into your busy lifestyle.
How Does a Food Dehydrator Work?
The basic principle behind a food dehydrator is using heat to remove moisture from food, but without cooking it. Most food dehydrators are equipped with a heating element and a system that distributes the heat evenly across the food, pulling out the moisture and leaving behind nutrient-rich food that can be stored for a long time.
You might wonder why you need a food dehydrator, as opposed to just using your oven to do the same thing. One reason is most standard ovens aren't able to provide the consistent temperatures and heat distribution required to effectively dry foods.
Also, you don't want the heat to get too high, because then you'll just end up cooking the food. Most ovens aren't able to go below the maximum temperature limit of around 65 – 95 degrees Celsius that dehydration requires.
Food dehydrators work with fruits, vegetables, and meats, so you'll have plenty of options for foods to dry out and enjoy later.
The Benefits of a Food Dehydrator
Food dehydrators offer multiple benefits, and here are the main ones.
Creating Healthy Snacks
Do you like to eat snacks? Most people do, but how many snacks are both healthy and satisfying? If you dehydrate your favourite fruits, veggies, or meats, you'll be able to create guilt-free snacks that are good for both your taste buds and your waistline.
Since you have complete control over the dehydration process, you can be sure that the dry foods you create don't have any extra sugar or other substances that shouldn't be in your diet.
Processed snacks (like the ones that turn your fingers orange) may not seem very pricey, but if you're a frequent snacker the cost can add up. Instead, try buying your favourite fresh foods in bulk, then dehydrate them to create a ready supply of healthy, yummy snacks – and avoid the processed snack food aisle the next time you hit the grocery store.
If you already enjoy chowing down on dehydrated foods, you can save money by creating your own instead of buying them in the store.
Have you ever thrown out food that's gone bad? Yes, you have, and you probably didn't feel very good about wasting food. With a food dehydrator on your counter, you can take produce or meats that are nearing their expiration dates and dry them out so they can be enjoyed in the future.
What to Look for When Buying a Food Dehydrator
If you're ready to plunge into the world of food dehydration, here are some key things to look out for.
Vertical vs. Horizontal Flow Dehydrators
Most food dehydrators can be divided into 2 separate styles. Which style you choose will depend on how much you want to spend and how much space is available on your counter.
Vertical flow dehydrators: In these models the heat source is located at the top or bottom, and most include a fan that helps push the heat up or down. This type of dehydrator tends to be more compact and affordable, but doesn't distribute heat quite as evenly as horizontal flow models.
Horizontal flow dehydrators: Often called "shelf tray food dehydrators," these appliances look a bit like a small oven, with the heat source located at the back. They distribute heat evenly, but can be larger and more expensive.
Size and Capacity
How much food dehydration do you want to do? If you're only making small batches, then consider a smaller model (which will probably have a lower price tag). However, if you want to prepare large amounts in less time, look for a food dehydrator with a larger capacity.
It's pretty common for food dehydrators to generate some noise as they pull the moisture out of the food. If the sound level is a concern for you, look for a decibel rating on the products you're considering. Sometimes the sound rating isn't available, so in those cases you can check ratings and reviews.