Dehydrating food is a method of removing excess moisture from food that has been used for centuries. People didn’t have the luxuries of modern technology like fridges or deep freezers to keep food fresh for extended periods.
They discovered that by leaving food out in the sun to dry, the dehydrated food lasted much longer without the need for cooling or unique storage methods.
When moisture is removed from food, bacteria, and mold have a much lower chance of growing and spoiling the food. The spices and salt in most dehydrated meats slow the growth of food-spoiling bacteria.
What Is A Dehydrator and what does it do?
Dehydrators, in their most basic form, remove moisture from food. Dehydrators circulate slightly warmed air around food to slowly remove moisture without actually cooking it.
In the case of beef jerky, adding salt and spices draws the water content to the surface of the food, allowing the warm air, which has a low vapor content, to evaporate and absorb the excess water. When the moisture in the food is removed, it becomes dry and lasts much longer if not refrigerated.
To dehydrate foods, you can use readily available dedicated Dehydrators, but you can also achieve the same result with an air fryer. With the proper settings, most air fryers are more than capable of dehydrating food; in fact, most air fryers include a dehydrator setting.
Does Turning up the temperature dehydrate food quicker?
Increasing the heat will not help dehydrate foods faster; instead, it will cause the foods to be cooked rather than dehydrated.
Because dehydrating is a slow extraction of water from the foods you’re dehydrating, it requires lower heat for longer periods to slowly pull the moisture out of the food and release it into the air as water vapor.
I recommend keeping the temperature between 120 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve dehydration without cooking the food.
Can An air fryer dehydrate food?
To answer that question, it is necessary to first understand how air fryers work. The heating element in air fryers, similar to the one on your stovetop, heats the air fryer basket to the desired cooking temperature. A fan circulates hot air around your food behind the heating element.
At high temperatures of up to 400 degrees, this hot air acts like hot oil, circulating and surrounding your foods while frying them without the use of additional grease or oil. Lower temperatures between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit gently remove moisture from food without cooking it.
That is exactly the effect we are hoping to achieve with our air fryer when dehydrating foods.
Is Dehydrated Food Healthy?
Most dehydrated foods are snacks, such as banana chips, raisins, and beef jerky. Choosing a dehydrated snack over a heavily processed snack such as potato chips, cookies, or cakes is far healthier.
Snacking on dehydrated food is much healthier for you because you are only eating the actual fruit, vegetable, or meat, with no added fat, grease, or anything unnatural.
Is Dehydrating Better Than Freeze Drying?
When compared to traditional dehydrating, freeze drying involves rapidly freezing food and then using heat and pressure to remove up to 90% of the moisture from the food, allowing it to last much longer in storage.
This method is primarily used for emergency food storage during natural disasters and disaster preparedness.
While dehydrating foods do not allow them to last as long as freeze-drying, we find that with proper storage, your dehydrated foods can last up to 4 years if vacuum sealed after dehydrating.
What Is The difference between an air fryer and a dehydrator?
Air fryers and dehydrators work almost the same way, they both regulate or circulate heat around the food.
An air fryer uses a high temperature to brown and crisp the food quickly, however, a dehydrator on the other hand stops color change by operating at a much lower temperature; typically 40 – 42°C. This allows the food to dry without cooking it.
Because of these operating temperatures, the air fryer only takes 5-30 minutes to cook, whereas a dehydrator can take several hours or days to dry.
How to use an air fryer as a dehydrator?
Sometimes it can be critical to understanding how your air fryer works, but an air fryer is very similar to a dehydrator and can be used as one.
Firstly, you should find an air fryer with a low heat setting. A good air fryer should also have a good venting system because the water must be effectively released.
Ideally, your air fryer should have enough room for you to thinly spread out the food. Otherwise, you will have to work in smaller batches. It will not dehydrate as well if everything is too close together.
Finally, because it will be on for several hours rather than the usual 15-30 minutes, make sure your air fryer can withstand extended use.
To know more, you can also watch this video:
Tips on dehydrating in the air fryer
Food should not be stacked!
As with any other dehydrating method, the food must be placed in a single layer. This is the only way for the ingredients to dry at the same rate and evenly.
If you have a dehydrator drying recipe, you can use the same time and temperature settings for your air fryer (if possible). Otherwise, just leave the air fryer in the lowest setting for a couple of hours. You must check in every hour to see how things are going.
Checking the consistency of your food is a good indicator that it has been properly dehydrated (and for an extended period). If the item is soft or sticky, the dehydrating time must be extended. Before removing the food, it should be hard and crunchy. Keep your dehydrated food away from humidity, moisture, and breezes.
Make sure all of your food is prepared before you begin dehydrating. I strongly advise washing your ingredients before dehydrating them and then patting them dry with a paper towel before placing them in a dehydrator.
Tip: Before storing the dehydrated food, allow it to cool completely. It is also critical to keep the food in an airtight container away from moisture, air, and direct sunlight. A pantry or food cupboard is ideal.
Top 5 Air Fryers For Dehydrating Food
Now that we’ve discussed dehydrating foods in air fryers, let’s take a look at some of my favorite air fryers for the job:
|Instant Vortex 7 in 1||$98|
|Ninja Air Fryer||$119.95|
|Cosori Smart Wifi Air Fryer||$129.99|
|Ultrean 8.5 Quartz Air Fryer||$89.99|
|Chefman Air Fryer And Dehydrator||$139.99|
Instant Vortex 7 in 1
This is one of the best air fryers on the market because it can do more than just air fry. This model includes a built-in dehydration setting. Air frying, baking, broiling, roasting, rotisserie, and reheating are also options.
Ninja Air Fryer
When compared to more traditional air fryers, this one, while appearing normal, has some impressive features. This model includes a dehydrating setting as well as an additional multi-layer rack.
This will increase the surface area available for dehydrating foods. It operates at very low temperatures and fan speeds to produce deliciously crispy and perfectly flat dehydrated foods.
Cosori Smart Wifi Air Fryer
If you want an extremely modernized air fryer, this one is a must-have! Before we get into the features, we need to discuss what makes this model so impressive.
It can be controlled via its display screen, remotely via an app, or simply by speaking to Alexa or Google Assistant. Amazing, right? Okay, now for some of its eye-catching design elements. This air fryer has a large frying basket that holds approximately 5.8 quarts.
This means you have a lot of room to dehydrate food. This air fryer does not include a pre-programmed dehydration setting; however, you can easily dehydrate food while closely monitoring it with the app.
Ultrean 8.5 Quartz Air Fryer
This is another simple-looking air fryer that packs a powerful punch. This product includes 7 pre-programmed settings for perfectly cooking or dehydrating your food.
The auto-shut-off features make this a top choice for us. These are built-in settings that shut down the machine if the fryer gets too hot.
Chefman Air Fryer And Dehydrator
Chefman is a well-known kitchen appliance retailer, and we must say that their air fryers have impressed us. This model includes a dehydrator setting and was designed for this purpose.
It includes two removable racks and a drip tray to catch any crumbs or juices. The perforated wire racks will help the food dehydrate faster, and the drip tray will make cleaning a breeze!
- If you’re interested in both air frying and food dehydrating, the fact that you can use an air fryer for both is fantastic news. If you can combine both of these cooking styles into one kitchen appliance, you will save a lot of space on your kitchen worktop.
- If you plan on doing a lot of dehydrating, an air fryer oven will give you more space.
- Although an air fryer can come close to what a dedicated dehydrator can provide, I doubt it will satisfy the most discerning dehydrator experts.
- If, on the other hand, you simply want the option of dehydrating on occasion, a capable air fryer may suffice.
- Chefman and Cosori are well-known brands, they would make a good dehydrator.
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