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Introduction

Honestly, I'd be lost without my Excalibur dehydrator because we use it all the time in our household. The money our dehydrator has saved us alone has well and truly paid for the initial purchase of the appliance and I could have used “money” as one of the 10 reasons below on its own; however, it's obvious cost savings are evident throughout the reasons below anyway.

I enjoy using the dehydrator too because it's simple and easy to produce great, tasty, long lasting snacks for the family. Even our dog benefits from our dehydrator by turning some of our food scraps into crunchy or chewy doggie snacks.

Dehydrate basil to use through winter time

Basil (herb) goes great with pastas through a cold winter but growing basil through winter can be a challenge - dehydrate it and use this herb in the off-season (image above).  

So without further delay, below are my 10 good reasons to buy and use a food dehydrator. Yes, there are many more but I feel these reasons are the best and I hope you enjoy them.

1 - Taste – often the taste of food is accentuated by the process of dehydration due to the concentration of flavours. For instance, a semi-dried tomato is still a tomato but the taste difference between the two forms are very different.

2 - Healthy – Along with taste, dehydrated foods have a tendency to make great snacks but instead of the fatty unhealthy options, good foods dehydrated can still have the novel snack factor but be very healthy to eat (especially for children). An apple in a lunch box can become a bit “ho-hum” but dehydrated apple pieces can make the same fruit different but just as healthy to eat. Also, if you read the packaging on many “so called” healthy snack options in the supermarket you'll likely find a whole range of preservatives and chemicals added to the food to help preserve it, however, this is not the case for the home preserver.

Steps to great dehydrated tomatoes

3 – Nutrition – Dehydrated food retains more goodness (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) then many other ways of preserving or preparing food. Of course, eating fresh is always best but it's not always practical. Dehydrating raw/live foods (using the correct settings on the dehydrator) not only preserves the food for later consumption, it also preserves all the goodies we need for a healthy diet.

4 - Size – Often food expands when frozen dehydrated food reduces in size. The act of dehydration is primarily about removing moisture and when this happens it usually means shrinkage. Dehydrated food is almost always smaller than frozen; freezing expands and dehydration contracts, which means less room is required for packaging.

Broccoli fresh (left) and dehydrated (right)

In the above image, we can compare fresh broccoli (left) with dehydrated (right). Not only does size differ but storage is easier when dried and should last 6-12 months. 

5 – Storage – Along the same lines of packaging and size, is storage space. If you are like me, you never have enough freezer space to fit all those frozen products a family needs. Therefore, why not save freezer space by storing food somewhere else like in the pantry. Dehydrated broccoli, as an example, is as good or better than frozen broccoli but it won't take up valuable freezer space!

Dry a glut of strawberries6 – Preserve – If you come across a great bargain at the markets or you produce a bumper crop of fruit and vegetables, instead of force feeding everyone sick full of this glut so it doesn't go to waste, simply dehydrate the extra food and keep it for later. A glut of bananas can become banana chips, over ripe mangoes going for a steal at the shops can become mango fruit leathers, or a glut of home-grown carrots can be diced and stored in the pantry as a quick addition to soups or casseroles.

7 – Recreation – Have you seen those expensive dehydrated packet foods at camping and recreation stores for all those adventurers? Dehydrated food is lightweight, easy to pack, and easy to prepare on camping trips or if you wish to climb Mount Everest. However, we needn’t pay lots of money for this convenience when we can easily make our own dehydrated meals for our own adventures or recreational activities. Excalibur now provides a camouflage 9 tray dehydrator for those who are into hunting etc.

Dehydrated doggie treats for man's best friend8 - Creativity – I like cooking, arts, and being creative, and there are plenty of ways to use a dehydrator for making creative snacks or inventive ways to solve everyday challenges. Food dehydration is just not all about sucking the water out of everything – far from it. Dehydrators can be used to make food better just like any other cooking device. With some imagination, dehydrators can make all sorts of wonderful foods like: candy, fruit wraps, fruit balls, jerky or biltong, yoghurt, tea leaves, herb mixes, dried fruit mixes for cakes, dog biscuits, and more.

9 - Energy savings – Dehydrators are reasonably cheap to run (about 5c an hour) and are certainly much cheaper than a oven and safer too. Some people use an oven as a dehydrator and I believe this is like boiling a 20 litre pot of water on a stove top to make a cup of coffee – totally unnecessary and a waste of energy. A dehydrator does the job faster, better, and cheaper than anything else (besides natural air drying but the conditions need to be absolutely perfect for natural dehydration to be successful).

10 – Easy – Speaking of perfect conditions, when you have a dehydrator there is no need to worry about the weather conditions – is it going to rain, is it too humid; and, you don't have to worry about insects or animals getting to the food either. Operating a dehydrator is as easy as placing the food on the trays, setting the temp dial to the predetermined setting, and setting the timer – jobs done. Other preserving methods can be messy, complicated, and time consuming, but dehydration is definitely one of the easiest ways to manage food. Cleaning up after is easy too, especially if you own an Excalibur dehydrator, with trays and sheets easily removed and wiped or washed and the inside a cinch to wipe out.

dehydrated citrus slices

Conclusion

Have I convinced you to buy a dehydrator or use your dehydrator more? With many of my backyard winter crops developing fast here in our subtropical setting at present, I think I've even convinced myself to run my Excalibur dehydrator machine a little harder!

dehydrated coriander and parsley herb mixYou don't have to be a guru in the kitchen or in the garden to get the most out of a dehydrator because the whole process is so simple. The 10 reasons above really need little explaining because the benefits of dehydrating your own food are self evident.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and family and pop over to our new forum at www.selfsufficientculture.com if you'd like to share your preserving or dehydration experiences, as it really would be terrific to read your opinion throughout our forum pages.

I have started a topic especially for this article here.

Also, feel free to use the comment section below and have your say (no email is required).

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes

Mark Valencia – Editor SSM

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