As home chefs, we all need herbs and spices. But you can’t always buy your favorite herbs and spices year-round. Why is that you ask?
When the weather changes, certain foods are no longer in season. One of 2 things will happen. That product will either no longer be available or the scarcity will make the price per unit rise drastically.
Short cut! Here’s my pick: The Hamilton Beach Dehydrator at Amazon.
Lucky for us, we live in the age of technology, so we can combat these problems by dehydrating our herbs, making them last year-round.
Why would you want dehydrated herbs over fresh ones?
Dried herbs will go much further in adding flavor to your dish than fresh ones will, so it is a good idea to have some on hand when your recipe calls for them. Typically, I will use fresh herbs on salads or as a garnish for some of my more formal dishes. But many dishes are perfectly suited to dried herbs.
Here is what you do.
When your favorite herb is in season, and the prices are reasonable, stock up on the herbs and dehydrate them so you can use it for the entire year.
Today I’ll show you some food dehydrators for your home to help you take advantage of buying herbs and spices in bulk.
Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro
The Snackmaster Pro is a good candidate for anybody who is just beginning to dehydrate their food. It is easy-to-use and doesn’t cost an arm and leg.
See the Snackmaster Pro at Amazon.
It has a top mounted fan with a thermostat that ranges from 95 to 160ºF. You also get a recipe book, two cooking sheets, and three jerky spice packets.
With the Snackmaster Pro, the flavors of the food that you are putting in the machine will not blend together while drying. There is no need to dehydrate everything separately or rotate the trays.
Should you get the Nesco?
The Nesco FD-75A is a decent enough machine. It dehydrates your foods at a respectable speed, relative to how much the machine itself costs, but it can use up quite a bit of power – especially on more humid days.
I like that it runs somewhat quietly, but the small fan on it can make it take a while to dehydrate some foods completely.
Hamilton Beach 3200A Food Dehydrator
Hamilton Beach products have always treated me well. This is another case of a very good product made by a very good company.
The 3200A has a 48-hour timer, complete with an auto shutoff feature for added safety. The digital thermostat is easy to read and can be adjusted from 100 to 160º F, giving you a wide temperature range to dehydrate foods.
See the Hamilton Beach Dehydrator at Amazon.
Continual air flow helps the dehydration process move much faster and is large enough to accommodate 5 stackable trays at a time.
It will ship with a mesh sheet for drying your smaller herbs and a solid sheet for those times you want to dehydrate fruits and vegetables.
Should you get the Hamilton Beach?
Again, I rarely have issues with this company. Their products are durable, and they have a 1-year limited warranty in the rare occasions you get a defective machine.
The machine itself pumps out 500 watts of dehydrating power, resulting in faster drying times and a smaller power bill. Who can’t get behind that?
The top will tend to dry a little faster than the bottom trays, so it may be a good idea to rotate trays sometimes. While that can be a nuisance at times, it’s certainly not a dealbreaker.
Chefman Food Dehydrator
This is a fairly new dehydrating system, so it isn’t market-tested nearly as much.This one boasts more power than the other 2 and more even drying rates. It is on the heavier side, but it is also a little larger than the other 2 discussed and is capable of holding up to 6 13-inch by 12-inch trays simultaneously.
Here’s the Chefman Dehydrator at Amazon.
It has digital thermometers with temperature ranges from 95º to 158º F and an integrated timer with a 19.5-hour countdown.
While only using 480 watts of power, it still gives excellent dehydrating capabilities. The innovative design maximizes airflow and results in a surprisingly even dehydration time for all the foods.
Purchasing the Chefman food dehydrator gives you access to exclusive recipes from “Club Chefman,” videos, cookbooks and more. Plus it comes with a one-year hassle free warranty.
Should you get the Chefman?
Some of us like to wait for a product to be on the market long enough that it has enough time to be tested by everybody else. But if you don’t mind buying newer products made with better technology, then go for this one. Besides, if you don’t like it, you can return it free of charge.
I like the fact that everything dries evenly, from the top tray to the bottom tray. Not only does it dehydrate evenly, but it does so relatively quickly as well.
Wrap – Up
Dehydrators can be a lifesaver if your grocery store likes to jack up the prices of spices and herbs that are not in season, and I would recommend getting one if you cook often.
My research tells me that the Hamilton Beach dehydrator from Amazon is the most consistent and durable of the group reviewed today, but if you are big on having the newest products, then the Chefman is for you.
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Amber D. and Caitlin R.