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Drying

What do I look for when buying a home dehydrator?

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some, but not all, manufacturers provide desirable features. There is no clear-cut answer other than try to find a dehydrator that has most or all of the following features:

1. Adjustable thermostat - allows for varied temperatures for different products. A manually operated thermometer will give the user the variability to dry a wide variety of foods. 2. Fan or blower - removes moisture as it evaporates from the food, resulting in shorter drying time and thus a higher quality product. 3. Efficient heat source - should be large enough for the drying area and is more cost efficient if cycled by a thermostat. 4. Forced air vs. natural draft - forced air dehydrators are equipped with a mechanism that circulates the heated air. Natural drafts have a heat source and rely on convection for air movement. Forced air units usually dry food faster and more evenly. Natural draft units usually use less energy. 5. Construction - is it easy to clean? Does it retain the heat? If it is to be portable, consider the weight. Some units have exposed heating coils, hard to reach thermostat controls, outside walls that become quite hot to the touch, or sharp corners. Shelves should be easy to clean. 6. Size - when considering the size of the unit, measure total shelf space rather than outside unit dimensions.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, NC State University in July 2004

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