A food dehydrator is one of the most essential pieces of meal preparation equipment that you will buy.
The reason I state this is because of two primary reasons:
- Moist food is heavier
One of my first thoughts when I started hiking was how do I make my pack lighter. I quickly realized that the heaviest part of the food I was taking was the liquid content and that made perfect sense as to why there were all kinds of freeze dried foods available for hiking.
- Moist food does not preserve for long
Food that is not dry will not last as long. This is because mold and decomposition occurs faster when there is more moisture or fat within food. Remove the fat and moisture, the longer the food lasts.
Combine dehydration with vacuum sealing and freezing, you can preserve your food for years. This is why I recommend that you not only invest in a food dehydrator but also invest in a vacuum sealer as well. We all have a freezer as a general rule, but if you do not, think about buying one.
There are a couple of rules of thumb when buying a dehydrator:
- A fanA fan carries moisture away from your food allowing it to be replaced with dry air which will continuously remove moisture from your food. If you do not have a fan, your food will both dry slowly and at different rates between the various trays. It is virtually impossible to make fruit rolls or bark without a fan.
- Adjustable temperaturesDepending on the type of food you are trying to dry, they will dry at different temperatures. You need to dry them at proper temperatures in order to stop the food from spoiling during the drying process.
- The capacity of the unitThe capacity of the unit quite important as you really do not want to spend months preparing food for a three week hike. Therefore being able to prepare larger amounts at the same time rapidly becomes very desirable. I started out with a 4 square foot unit, without adjustable temps (big mistake), and rapidly moved to eight square feet. It’s really your choice but I would go for the largest capacity you can afford.
After all of my research, I decided on the Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator. It is a great unit. It’s 1000 watts, comes with eight trays, eight fruit roll sheets, and eight clean-a-screens. My initial tests of the unit have been phenomenal and the reviews I have seen have been very good. Here are a shot of the unit. If you click on any of the images, you will be taken to the product listed on Amazon for more information.