If you frequently purchase dried snacks like banana chips and beef jerky, or need to preserve your garden harvest, a food dehydrator could be a practical and cost-saving investment. Using a fan and heating element to circulate warm air, these handy appliances extract excess moisture from food items placed inside, extending their shelf life and allowing them to be stored safely without a refrigerator or freezer. They come in a wide variety of sizes and prices too, so there’s one out there that should suit your specific needs, whether that’s drying tomatoes or preparing piles of meat.
After researching the most popular dehydrators online, we put 11 models to the test, dehydrating a variety of food items to get a sense of their overall ease of use, speed and — most importantly — ability to dehydrate evenly. In the end, we finally selected the Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster as our top choice for most people’s needs.