THE FOOD DEHYDRATOR – An Essential Tool for a Raw Food KitchenVitality Magazine November 20, 2013
~ by Maree Price
We have a strange kitchen. There’s no stove, no microwave, not even a toaster oven. What you will find is a dehydrator, juicer, food processor, and a variety of slicers. You see, we love food just like anyone else, but we just have a different take on how to prepare it, which happens to be very creative and fun too. In fact, we eat 100x the variety of foods we used to via the traditional stove, oven and microwave with which we grew up. We never knew how much we were missing out on before we opened our eyes and our minds to something other than the ‘norm’. We think the norm is boring now. Don’t get us wrong, there are some amazing dishes in the ‘cooked’ realms, but nothing gets as creative and intriguing as working with ‘raw food’ dishes.
A dish is termed ‘raw’ when the preparation temperatures have not surpassed about 118 degrees. Why? Well this is when vitamins, minerals & enzymes are destroyed, so keeping it at lower temperatures helps you get more nutrition out of your food. Dehydrating is a fun and easy way to create delicious food while preserving nutrients, so let’s take a closer look.
A Dehydrator is one of our favourite kitchen appliances. Why? Dehydrating is something the whole family can get involved with at any age. There’s no worry of burnt fingers as the frame and components do not heat up like an oven, so it’s a win-win for kids and parents as it gives them something better to do than play with ‘game boys’ or computers, and you suddenly have ‘family time’ happening in a new way.
It happened with our family too when we brought our first dehydrator home – parents, siblings, grandparents, and nieces, they all got involved, fascinated they could make pizza crust and cookies without the usual unhealthy ingredients and without ‘cooking’ it. Forgotten were the cell phones, texts, and tv – we were suddenly fully engaged with each other. Forgotten was the usual bickering and separate activities; we were a happily functioning family unit, all with a little help from our dehydrator
Sounds interesting, but maybe a bit too new or scary to consider having one, especially with all the options out there? We completely understand. After close to 10 years spent selling and using dehydrators personally, we’ve helped thousands of people make informed decisions. You will not get that from any big box store or supplier.
The first thing you will notice on our website is that we do not carry every brand; we are selective about what we use ourselves and that completely reflects in all of the products we carry. Quality and durability are very important, especially when we are supplying chefs and restaurants that make great recipes to feed the public.
We recommend the Excalibur and Sedona dehydrators as solid and reliable lines. The Excalibur is more like the ‘work-horse’ of dehydrating with over 40 years of being in business. Meanwhile the Sedona is sharp with its see-through oven like door, dual fans and night mode settings – it is a dream appliance for the kitchen-decorating connoisseur. That being said, there a few things to consider about your dehydrator before you purchase.
First, how much space do you have and which dehydrator will best fit into it? Despite the larger size of the Excalibur (17″W x 19″D x 12.5″H ) and the Sedona (17″ W x 19.7″ D x 14.6″ H), the 9 tray versions are by far the most popular, affording you the most versatility and ease of use. Most recipes will fit into a 9 tray dehydrator and, if you remove every other tray, taller foods like kale will fit in when making kale chips. Meanwhile, compared to smaller models, you’ll still have enough space to make a sufficient amount of chips. In addition, if you take out all of the trays, you can fit larger containers in to infuse herbs/flavours, or to warm dishes like raw lasagna.
The 5 tray version is available on the Excalibur model only and is the next best choice as, even though it is only 8.5″ in height, it has the same footprint as the 9 tray. If you live in a small space, the smaller 4 tray Excalibur is nice and compact. As long as you cut your recipes down, it works like a charm. Remember when fitting your home for a dehydrator, it doesn’t have to be in the kitchen. It can be in the basement, study, spare bedroom, or even out of sight as long as there is proper air flow and the vents aren’t blocked.
Once you have your sizing and spot picked out you need to look at colour and accessories. While the Sedona comes in black only, the Excalibur models offer black, white and stainless steel colour options (4 tray model only in black). You will then need some non-stick solid sheets. These will prevent wet recipes like the batter for crackers, for example, from sticking into the mesh grates of the trays, which can result in a big mess.
Once the batter solidifies a bit, you peel off the non-stick sheet and let the dehydrator do its thing. In a couple of hours you will have a bread or bagel-like consistency. However, if you let it go overnight (approx 8 hrs), you will wake up to thick, crunchy crackers. The non-stick sheets can also be used to prevent dripping on lower trays, or the bottom of your dehydrator, when you have wet recipes covered in sauces. Again the non-stick sheets will make for a speedy clean up afterwards.
The next option is the timer. The Sedona, and some of the Excalibur units, have internal timers. Although this is an option, it certainly is not a necessity. Contrary to popular belief, dehydrators are not like ovens where 10 minutes too long can burn and ruin everything. With dehydrators, overdoing it will simply remove more moisture from the food, allowing it to be stored longer. We also offer external timers for those who are unsure or have non-timer models. We’ve never used a timer and have done just fine over the years ourselves, but it is a personal preference.
Finally, the other important points: Both dehydrator brands are food grade and, whatever components touch your food, are BPA-free. The Excalibur has a stainless steel model for the 5 and 9 tray, if you prefer. Both models have solid warranties of 5 or 10 years, depending on the model. The hydro use is similar to having a few light bulbs on (220 – 600 watts depending on the model). The noise level is low and comparable to a microwave running, however the ‘night mode’ on the Sedona is extremely quiet. We have great pricing and special deals but, if you are still unconvinced, we will price match or beat any Canadian store!
Check us out for more stories on our other kitchen equipment and other fabulous products. You can find the Sedona & Excalibur dehydrators online atwww.upayanaturals.com <https://www.upayanaturals.com/> with free delivery or pick-up available in Toronto and Barrie. Please give us a call at 416-617-3096 if you prefer. You can also visit us at the upcoming Whole Life Expo to see the dehydrators live and get a great deal! We are the mecca for all things in the raw kitchen from dehydrators and other kitchen equipment to raw foods, superfoods, skincare and more. Wholesale is available.