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Recently we’ve repeatedly heard “Why should I bother with a dehydrator?”, so we thought we’d lay out the best reasons to use one. A home food dehydrator is a great investment for your kitchen, but they’re not for everyone. Read on to decide whether a dehydrator would work for you. They’re relatively simple to use, save you money, and help reduce your food waste. There’s a whole bunch of other benefits, too, all of which we’ll delve into here. This post will also give you some simple usage instructions and recipe ideas to get your exploration of food preservation off to an exciting start.
One of the primary reasons to buy a home food dehydrator is to save money, and there’s several ways you’ll manage it.
Reduce Food Waste
How many pieces of fruit and veg, bunches of herbs, and chunks of meat do you throw away every month? We’re guessing that the answer is too much. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the average American household wastes an incredible 30 to 40% of their food – that’s roughly 20 pounds of food per person per month! Which, quite frankly, is insane. That means that you may as well just burn 40% of your food budget every week before you go to the grocery store. Yearly, in the US alone, that equates to $166 billion in food waste!
Those figures also don’t account for the amount of produce that people grow themselves and end up wasting because they have a glut of a particular crop. Those figures would be even higher. If you grow some of your own food, how much of that food do you throw away because you can’t give any more zucchini to your neighbors, or apples to your family? When you stop and think about how much you’re throwing away, it’s pretty scary.
Aside from the damage we’re doing to our planet by discarding such a huge amount of food, which then sits and rots in landfill, think of the money! Picture every grape, strawberry, beef steak, manky brown banana, and shrivelled apple as a dollar bill instead of food. See what I mean?
So, by buying a dehydrator and learning how to use it, you can dramatically cut down on your food waste, which in turn means you’ll save money, because you won’t need to keep buying the food you already have preserved.
This is another money saver. Buying fruit and veg out of season costs far more than purchasing seasonally – not to mention the huge increase in your carbon footprint, and the inferior quality of the imported produce.
But, if you preserve as much seasonal produce as you can in your dehydrator, and store it properly, you’ll have nutrient-rich, chemical-free ingredients and snacks all year round.
If you grow your own food, this is a great way to get a little closer to self-sufficiency. You’ll undoubtedly have gluts of all kinds of crops throughout the year – but during the “hungry months”, many growers have to rely on inferior grocery store produce. But if you dehydrate your surplus, you can use it all year round.
And don’t forget – any fruit or veg you dehydrate, you can rehydrate, so you’ve got plenty of options for using up your preserved foods.
If you love a bargain, but you find yourself unable to buy marked down fruit and veg as often as you’d like because you simply can’t eat it fast enough, a home food dehydrator is the answer. Been to your local farmer’s market and seen boxes and boxes of organic peaches and plums marked down for a fast sale? Buy them! Dash home and fire up your dehydrator.
Buy Fewer Snacks
If you’re determined to cut down on your food waste and therefore your grocery bill, you’re going to have all kinds of dehydrated goodies laying around that you can eat as snacks, whether that’s fruit leather, meat jerky, vegetable chips, or deliciously juicy raisins. Aside from being exceptionally healthy alternative to nasty store-bought snacks, it saves you a small fortune. Store-bought snacks cost a bomb, and they really don’t taste as good. But it’s insanely easy to create healthy, super tasty snacks at home in your dehydrator for a fraction of the cost.
And homemade healthy snacks definitely don’t have to be boring! Check out these dehydrated fruit lollies from ColorWheelMeals.com:
Easy and Safe
While you can get a little more creative and come up with more complex dehydrator recipes, most are really simple. Yes, there’s a little bit of prep involved, and some items you need to cook or blanch before you dehydrate, but there’s really only a little bit of work involved.
Many of us love the idea of canning, but it’s a scary thing to attempt if you’re a novice. If you don’t can perfectly, you risk poisoning your family with seriously nasty toxins like botulism. You can’t see it and you can’t taste it. So every time you delve into your canned goods, it’s a health lottery. And it’s no joke. Botulism will make you exceptionally ill and can even prove lethal. But when you dehydrate, providing you wash, prep, and store your produce correctly, it’s safe. And, if the dehydrated food spoils, it grows mold that’s clearly visible.
As well as saving money because you don’t need to buy as many snacks, homemade dehydrated snacks are far healthier, as they contain no chemicals, including artificial flavorings, coloring, or preservatives. When you make your own food, you’re in control, and you know exactly what you’re feeding yourself and your family.
Yes, making jams, chutneys, and sauces are great options for preserving your produce – but only in moderation, as these and many other preservation methods require high levels of sugar or salt, which, as we all know, in large quantities is really bad for us. But when you dehydrate, you don’t need to add anything. You can sweeten produce with organic honey and lightly season savory items without adding huge amounts of preservatives and sweeteners that are potentially harmful to your health.
And, dehydrating fresh food preserves up to 80 percent more nutrients than other preservation methods.
Carrying around fresh, healthy snacks can be a pain in the rear. Many need to be refrigerated, they take up a lot of space, and fruits get bruised or ruined easily. But if you’ve got dehydrated snacks, they stay fresh and they don’t bruise. It’s particularly useful if you’re on a restricted diet, like paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, or AIP. In these instances, it’s often tough to find suitable snacks, particularly if you’re travelling, at a conference, even on vacation. Again, with a dehydrator, you’re in control of what you’re putting in your body, and you don’t need to worry about finding something safe for you to eat that’ll boost your energy.
Because a dehydrator removes all the moisture from your produce, it significantly decreases the volume. Therefore, you can pack far more on to your kitchen shelves. You can reduce huge volumes of apples, soft fruits, courgettes, potatoes, and any other produce that normally takes up lots of space into a comparatively small area.
So should you bother getting a dehydrator? We say yes, if you think you’ll get the use out of it. If you don’t grow or rarely buy fresh produce, it’s probably not worth it. But if you like to control what you’re putting in your body, grow your own food, love a bargain, are on a restrictive diet, or buy large amounts of fresh produce, we say it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.
Keep your eyes peeled, as we’ll soon be posting some of our favorite dehydrator recipes, and a simple how-to guide!
Do you have any recipes you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!