Is there a material difference between round and rectangular dehydrators? To see how they stack up in the kitchen, we put them through their paces at our laboratory. Here’s how we do it.
Overall score breakdown
Our overall score for dehydrators includes assessments for:
Performance (80%, with all four food tests weighted equally)
Ease of use (20%, including general ease of use, assembly and storage, ease of operating controls and ease of cleaning.)
How we test
We prepare a variety of foods to test various functions. With all our tests we’re looking for evenly dried food. We also want the dried food to have an intense flavour and smell, attractive appearance (minimal loss of colour) and good texture. We follow the manufacturer’s instructions where possible and check on the food periodically. We rotate the trays, if necessary. With each test, we also do a control batch in a fan-forced oven.
For apple chips we core the apples, then slice them into 1.5mm slices. We place a single layer on each rack, without overlapping the slices. We set the temperature at 60°C or “medium”. Apple chips should have a crisp, crunchy texture, a sweet, concentrated fruit flavour, and minimal losses in colour and size.
Semi-dried tomatoes should be plump and pliable. We cut roma tomatoes into quarters or sixths and place the slices in single layers. The temperature is set at “medium” or between 50°C and 58°C.
With beef jerky, the aim is to dehydrate a food typical of dehydrating, with an importance on food safety to assess the food dehydrator’s ability to dehydrate evenly. We freeze the meat slightly to make slicing easier, then cut it into 5mm-thick slices. We marinate the slices overnight in a soy sauce-based marinade, then place single layers on the racks. We run the dehydrator at about 70°C or “high”. The jerky is ready when there are no red areas when a piece is broken open. It should look cooked and will be firm, not wet. You don’t want the jerky to snap – it should bend with no moisture squeezing out. There should be a concentrated beef flavour.
For kale chips, we place single layers on the racks, on a “medium” temperature between 50°C and 60°C. The result should be crisp, dry kale that rehydrates in the mouth.
How we choose what we test
We aim to test brands and models you’re likely to see when you head to the shops, plus some you might not be aware of.
Before we buy anything, we do our research: we visit stores, both online and physical; we talk to experts and consumers; and we ask manufacturers about their range of models. We want to capture new developments in the market and make sure the products we test will be available after we publish our results.
We then compile a list of models and head out to purchase them, just as any consumer would. Where it means we can publish on upcoming models not yet in stores, we will accept samples to test from distributors.
We've tested 8 dehydrators.
Find the right one for you.