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apples made from food dehydrator
Look, I know we all have a ton of kitchen gadgets. The food dehydrator, I know, might feel like one. But trust me, it’s not your typical food gadget.

I’ve gouged myself on quite a few of them, both literally and price-wise. Some of the pasta makers, or the potato-swirl-cutting-machines have been just way too much for my delicate, yet clumsy fingers to master. We even made a trip to the hospital last year using one of those french fry cutters (which also caused a sore argument Christmas evening, but that’s another story.)

A lot of kitchen gadgets just aren’t worth their weight in gold. They’re hard to store, difficult (and dangerous) to use and frankly, just a way to get you to spend money. Many are useless or just fail to meet expectations. And that’s okay to admit.

There’s a lot of waste out there when it comes to kitchen gadgets.

A good food dehydrator, however, is not a waste. In fact….here are the top 3 reasons if you love real, good food, you absolutely must have one in your kitchen!

1. A food dehydrator will save you tons of money!

By drying your own fruits and vegetables, you can literally save hundreds of dollars a year. Dehydrated fruits and veggies are some of the healthiest snacks, but they take time, effort, and fresh fruit!

Instead of shelling out $7 for a bag of dehydrated bananas, why not chop up some overripe bananas you bought for a few dollars and dehydrate them in your own home? When there’s a sale on blueberries, wouldn’t you love to snap them up and dry them out to throw in your favorite cereal? I know I love to throw a bunch of dry berries on my cereal. But it’s cost-prohibitive, especially if you prefer, like me, a fruit that was dried while it was raw, with no added sugar or sweetening.

When you dry your own foods, you can always send your loved ones (especially the littlest ones!) out the door with a few servings of fruits and veggies, packed with fiber.

Our editor’s food dehydrator of choice for this task is the Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A, which retails at a price that’s easy on the budget. There are a lot of great products out there, depending on what your budget is. There are also many great reasons to go ahead and invest in a food dehydrator.

Here’s a photo of what the Nesco looks like. Click the image to read the product listing on Amazon:

A good food dehydrator is perfect for drying fruit such as blueberries…

Dried Blueberries

Blueberries are great antioxidants, and are packed full of healthy fiber, too. My significant other had been picking them up at the grocery store for $6 for a bag that’s just a little under 4 ounces. But blueberries are often on sale at the store, especially products from overseas, during the off-season. You can get two to three times what you get in a bag at the grocery for half the price.

They’re easily used to flavor and savor your favorite winter pears…

Dried Pears

Pears are a treat during both the summer and the winter, so when you see a sale, it’s time to stock up. How thrilled will your family be when you send them home with a bag full of these goodies? Chop ’em up, sprinkle the pears with a bit or cinnamon or dry maple sugar, and pop them in the dehydrator. They’re great during holiday time at the bottom of a pile of ice cream. (Yes! ice cream! Pair it with a cup of hot cider and melt hearts with its goodness!) There’s no reason to resist the pull of this treat, even during winter time.

Food dehydrators are a fantastic way to get your kids to love.. and CRAVE their veggies again.

Case in point: These salt and pepper zucchini chips. (Grab the recipe from Kelly Garbato here. But you will need one of the previously-mentioned food dehydrators.) You can also dehydrate all sorts of vegetables, including carrots, snap peas, and even beets. The great part is that you can use herbs to create different flavors, and limit the salt intake, too.

2012-07-16 - Salt & Pepper Zucchini Chips - 0007

There’s a lot to experiment with. I’d say, start with the stuff that’s about to go bad, and work from there.

animated  Not sure which food dehydrator will work for you? Here are a few of the models we like on Amazon:

  1. Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
  2. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
  3. Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator
  4. Della Deluxe Electric Food Dehydrator, 350-Watt

Don’t take my word for it. Make sure to read the reviews!

2. Practice Zero Food Waste with a Food Dehydrator

Steve's 2013 Garden 14

If you’re like me, you may tend to overspend when you make a trip to the farmer’s market. Or maybe you grow food, but you’ve gotten to the point where you harvest more than you consume.

Or maybe your local supermarket or Walmart has a price that just can’t be beat, but only once a month.

These deals come by the bag. You get 12 oranges or apples for a few bucks, so you stock up. Or you grab a box full of robust tomatoes, even though you realize there are only two of you at home, and you’ve already planned the menu for a few nights this week.

Fresh produce looks great, smells good, and for foodies like me, is hard to pass up when it’s plentiful and on sale.

You’re sure your family will eat a boatload of apples. But alas, they can’t eat fast enough. Your glorious produce starts to wilt or go soft. Now what?

That’s where the food dehydrator comes in. You can dry almost any fruit or vegetable in it, without worrying about any sliver of fruit or vegetables going to waste.

What’s even better? Ugly foods are often sold off at farmer’s markets and organic grocery stores on the cheap. Food dehydrators don’t care if your food is pretty or ugly; they only preserve the yummy taste. No more apples or kale or other family favorites going bad because your eyes are too big for your stomach. You can also share with family, friends and co-workers.

3. Use a Food Dehydrator to Control What’s In Your Food

Clean eating, healthy eating, real food.. whatever you call your current nutritional plan, you’re eating for optimum health, right? So when you grab a bag of kale chips at the organic food store (for a few bucks more than the junk food) you should be able to trust that the food is good for you.

So why does the food label on those kale chips look so similar to the one on the potato chips? The label below is a replica of a popular brand of kale chips I’ve often grabbed on-the-go at the local grocery store. It’s a small bag, about the size of a bag of single-serve potato chips.

kale chips label

So where did all that sodium come from? That’s 15% of your daily value in a small, low-calorie snack. And why on earth is there TRANS FAT in my kale chips? In fact, where DID all that fat come from? (Yes, you’ll find that there are vitamins and minerals aplenty in a store brand of kale chips, but you can get the same results, minus the trans fats, at home.)

While I don’t have an answer about why this kale chip company adds trans fats or sodium to their kale chips, I do know that you can create crispy, flavorful kale without them. Adding flavor shouldn’t add fat. A few squirts of lemon juice, a sprinkle of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a few sprinkles tamari can create a flavorful, awesome alternative to kale chips with additives. If your kids don’t like it, why not brush the dry kale chips with a bit of olive oil and parmesan.

Besides making sure your kale chips are good and wholesome, dehydrating your own food can be a lifesaver for people who have food allergies in their household. No matter who you buy your dried food from, there’s usually a warning about it being processed in the same factory as nuts, eggs, and other life-threatening allergens. Control your food, in your home. And enjoy life by drying all kinds of wonderful, allergen-free things.

Did I mention how pleasingly CRISPY these things can get?

Kale Chips!

Not sure you can do it? Of course you can. And if you’re a carnivore, you can even learn how to make all sorts of meaty protein snacks in it as well.

You can dehydrate chicken, steak, ham, and just about any other meat, too.

Don’t forget to check out the editor-recommended food dehydrator at Amazon:

animatedNesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator


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