Are you interested in dehydrating, but don't know the dehydrating tools that you really need? Not as many as you may think! Here's a list to get you started!
Kitchen gadgets are fun to buy, aren't they? They promise they'll make life in the kitchen simpler; make meal prep easier; make your life happier.
But sometimes, gadgets also require you to have more storage space, and more items to have to clean.
So let's discuss those tools that you really need and those tools which are great to have, and those you probably don't need at all!
Must-Have Dehydrating Tools
A good shart knife will get you a very long way in your dehydrating journey. Along with it, a good cutting board is awesome.
A dehydrator with a temperature gauge is all you really need. It doesn't have to be big and fancy, doesn't have to be to stainless steel or even an Excalibur.
I recommend the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 because it is has a large capacity, does not have digital components, is fast, and Excalibur has an outstanding reputation in the field of dehydrators.
However, it's not the singular best machine out there for everyone. There may be other machines that work better for you because of
I've created a handy resource to help you choose a dehydrator that is right for you. Plus I give you tips on finding dehydrators less expensively, what to look for, and suggestions in every budget range.
Just know that the best dehydrator is the one you're using to put food in your pantry for your food storage and enjoy!
Dehydrating Mats / Fruit Leather Sheets
While your dehydrator may come with these, it might not, so you'll want to make your own, or use a substitute or invest in ones that fit your machine.
I find these a necessary tool for running my dehydrator efficiently.
- Parchment/baking paper is enough for any need. It helps with fruit leathers as well as keeping small pieces from falling through your trays.
- Fruit Leather Sheets - they range from inexpensive generic versions to pricey brand-specific silicone sheets. Many of the inexpensive versions can be cut down to fit almost any tray. Keep an eye out for the lipped silicone trays for the Excalibur - they are awesome!
- Mesh Sheets - instead of a solid sheet, this is a lot like the plastic canvas crafting sheets. A mesh to allow air to flow, but capture smaller pieces of dehydrated foods.
Airtight Storage Containers
No matter what container you choose to use, airtight containment is mandatory for storage of dehydrated foods. There are many options, so find the one that works best for you.
Remember, you want to pick a container that is similar in volume to the amount of food you have to store.
- Canning Jars
- Commercial glass jars with tight-fitting lids - spaghetti sauce jars, salsa jars, etc.
- Plastic Containers - think Rubbermaid, Prepware, OXO, Tupperware, etc. - those with awesome seals.
- Mylar bags - not the kind with the zippers or windows as those will be air-permeable over time.
Learn More: Proper Storage of Dehydrated Goods
Helpful Dehydrating Tools
These tools, while not necessary, can make your job of preparing or storing dehydrated foods easier.
Tools for Prepwork
If your knifework skills are less than stellar, or you have fine motor skill issues, having a tool to help you do prepwork of slicing, dicing, peeling, cutting, etc., is really helpful.
These suggestions are assuming you do not have a food processor. It's a great all-in-one tool.
- Mandoline - there are dozens on the market that are good. I use an OXO mandoline that isn't sold on Amazon any longer, but this standing mandoline gets high praises from the dehydrating group, too. You can also try this Mueller version for something that might be easier.
- Chopper - A vegetable/onion chopper that slices, dices, swirls, and collects it all is great. This chopper is a great tool for prepping onions without tears.
SAFETY TIP: Just remember - using a blade of any sort like this, protect your hand with a good cutting glove - even if you are using the handguards on mandolines. I have beefy hands and this pair works great for me (I ordered medium).
Grinders for Powdering
Powders make the world go 'round in the kitchen. They are a beneficial way of using all of your dehydrated products in a way that introduces flavor without bulk, doesn't intrude on the finicky pallette, and can help you integrate a ton of nutrients into everyday cooking - even if you hate those vegetables.
Here are my suggestions based on volume, but I find that the bullet blender is my go-to in most circumstances these days.
- Coffee Grinder - while a removable steel bowl is beneficial, it just about doubles the price of a grinder. This basic model works just fine.
- Bullet Blender
- Large Blender - I used a Ninja Kitchen System for years which had the components for bullet blender, food processor, and large blender together. But I finally killed it and moved up to a Vitamix. Though, in hindsight, I wish I had gotten a mid-budget blender and a food processor.
Dehydrating Tools for Storing
Vacuum sealer - Whether you choose a full-sized vacuum sealing machine or a handheld Foodsaver or even a brake bleeder, vacuum sealing is a helpful way to ensure the shelf-life of your food.
- Mueller | Foodsaver | Compact Foodsaver | Cabelas
- Vacuum Sealer Jar Attachments
- Hand-Held Vacuum Sealer - requires the jar attachments, but lets you make quick jobs of vacuum sealing jars for everyday use. Watch how it works.
- Brake Bleeder- this is a powerless device used to flush brakes in cars, but works perfectly for vacuum sealing your jars. Learn how to use it here for vacuum sealing here. You still need the Foodsavedr Jar Attachments, just not a powered vacuum sealer. But remember, they can take quite a bit of manual hand strength.
Read more: Quick Guide to Using a Vacuum Sealer
Optional Dehydrating Tools
But if you're like me and like to sit in a big comfie chair, have a pen, some sticky notes, a notebook, and browse, read, and plan, books are a tremendous tool for your dehydrating toolbox.
In no certain order, here are some books that I have, used, and can recommend:
- The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook by Tammy Gangloff
- The Dehydrator Bible by Jennifer MacKenzie
- Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Book
- National Center for Food Preservation Website is a good free tool
- The Beginner's Guide to Dehydrating Food by Teresa Marrone
- Quick & Easy Dehydrated Meals in a Bag by Tammy Gangloff
- Recipes for Adventure - Backpacking Meals - Chef Glen McAllister
Fun extras that can make your job easier
These tools are fun to have, but definitely NOT a necessity. They can make small tasks easier, or just are helpful to have:
- Stainless steel funnel with a mesh strainer. This can be invaluable in putting powders into jars.
- Salad Spinner helps remove excess moisture after washing produce. I also use this collapsible salad spinner.
- Mushroom, Strawberry & Egg bladed slicer
- Mini-mandoline great for garlic, ginger, and other small slices.
- Desiccant packs - & O2 absorbers -- with proper drying, conditioning, and storage, these aren't necessary but can be helpful in some circumstances. Read more here on how to use them.
- Apple Peeler or apple corer - of course, you can use a regular peeler for this job, but if you've got a crate to do, these tools can make it easier.
- Pineapple Corer
- Cherry Pitter - you can see how I use it when dehydrating cherries on this post.
Of course, you may have tools that you find essential in your dehydrating journey or may find the ones I've listed are just silly and take up space in the kitchen and are money-wasters.
Let us know those tools that didn't make the cut -- or that you think are just not worth having!