If you are at all familiar with the fashionable cooking world of YouTube, then it is likely that you have seen a dehydrator at some point.
With what looks like some serious science, all kinds of different YouTubers and video makers use these contraptions to make strange and intricate sauces and powders using everyday ingredients.
But what is a dehydrator, and how is it supposed to work?
What is a Dehydrator?
A dehydrator is one of those things that look incredibly complicated and confusing – something involving all kinds of unique and convoluted scientific mumbo jumbo that only the highly qualified should attempt to use.
However, a dehydrator is actually super simple.
There are two basic types of dehydrators – one is basically just a very low-intensity oven that is able to maintain extremely consistent temperatures to dehydrate your food The other, far more common, type is basically a layered basket that jets warm air over the food you want dehydrating, in an effort to slowly but surely dry it completely out.
Both types will, over time, dehydrate anything you put inside it.
The concept of drying food has been around since ancient antiquity and is basically just a method of preserving food by removing all the water from it, such as honey. However, scientifically minded culinary artists often use dehydrators for the purpose of creating all kinds of unique and interesting powders and seasonings.
For example, you could dehydrate an apple over several hours, resulting in a very thin and lightweight, pure concentrated apple. You could then smash this down into a powder and have pure apple flavor to sprinkle onto your food whenever and wherever you want.
But what how does a dehydrator actually work?
How Does An Air Dehydrator Work?
A dehydrator is basically just a slightly more sophisticated oven that operates at extremely low temperatures. It is usually just a container that is excellent at keeping in the heat, a simple heating element, a fan, and various air vents for circulation.
The key quality of a good dehydrator is its ability to keep the internal temperature with the dehydrator at a consistent temperature. This might sound pretty normal, but a regular convection oven that you use every day to make dinner is actually incredibly terrible at maintaining temperature.
When it comes to trying to keep a low, even heat going for a long period of time, most ovens are really awful at keeping the heat even. This is because most ovens work on a cyclical on/off switch, only activating when it registers that the temperature has dipped below the required level.
However, if you are trying to dehydrate food, you definitely do not want the heat to suddenly turn on at a higher intensity and blast your food.
A dehydrator is thus a very specialized, but very useful tool. It can keep foods at very consistent temperatures for a really long time, as well as the fact that it can usually work using very little electricity.
As it does not have to turn the heating element to a high temperature, dehydrators are perfect for saving money on your electricity bill.
You can even get solar dryers that work to dehydrate food using the sun’s energy, without having to run the risk of leaving your food outside in the hot sun.
If you do decide to be brave and try out a dehydrator for yourself, what kinds of things could you use a dehydrator for?
Uses for a Dehydrator
The problem with trying to decide what to do with your dehydrator is that there is basically an unending amount of different things you can sue your dehydrator.
You can dry out and preserve anything, from fruits and nuts to meat and milk literally.
The key is to remember that anything you dehydrate is merely an ingredient, rather than a whole complete meal in and of itself.
If you are looking to make some snacks to take while on hikes, drying out some nuts and seeds on a thin sheet tray makes for incredibly portable and crunchy snacks.
Once they are all dried, you just need to dust them with salt and put them in a zip lock bag, giving you easy to eat snacks wherever you are.
If you want to get really fancy, you can dry all kinds of vegetables and grind them up into a unique powder, such as red and yellow bell peppers, allowing you to season things like homemade Doritos or even a spice rub for beef.
Of course, you might never imagine actually use something like this, so if you cannot imagine doing this yourself, then a dehydrator might not be for you.