What are the benefits of dehydrating foods?
Dehydrated foods are said to have more preserved nutrients because the food isn’t exposed to high temperatures. Many phytonutrients are damaged or lost once they’re cooked so a dehydrator allows for food manipulation without losing these nutrients.
Also, dehydrating allows for large-batch food preparation that can be consumed over months because of the preserving effect of dehydrating fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds. Dehydrators also allow for a lot of interesting and creative culinary experiments! Uses for raw veggie chips and nut/seed cracker combinations are endless!
What’s the downside of purchasing or using a dehydrator?
First, a dehydrator can cost you anywhere from $60 to $400 (maybe more!) depending on the model and size you invest in. And a dehydrator is just that – an investment. Like a high-speed blender or food processor, a dehydrator is a culinary tool that is only as useful as you make it.
Dehydrating foods also takes time and preparation and dehydrator “recipes” can involve many steps. For example, a raw buckwheat burger might include sprouting and dehydrating the buckwheat, then using a food processor to make the buckwheat burgers, then forming the burgers then dehydrating the burgers. It can take anywhere from 6-24 hours to dehydrate foods, depending on the recipe or food.
Factors like food thickness, water content, humidity of the room and desired texture will all influence dehydration times. However, once the food is in the dehydrator it’s just a matter of waiting. Other recipes like dehydrated apples simply involve slicing an apple and laying the slices in the dehydrator. It’s as easy or as complex as you’re willing to make it. The intricacies and steps to making raw, vegan foods can also be fun– especially if you like being in the kitchen and getting your hands a little dirty!
What dehydrator to buy?
There are many dehydrators on the market but my experience has been that cheap dehydrators are cheap for a reason. If you’re serious about dehydrating, I suggest flipping through a dehydrator cookbook or guide or reading up on the benefits and determining if a dehydrator is right for you.
If you’re new to plant based eating, the addition of a dehydrator could be overwhelming or it could be life changing. It really depends on you, your needs, interests, dietary preferences, budget and time. I use a 9 tray Excalibur Dehydrator
and am pleased with the size and performance. Originally I wanted a three-tray model, but I’m glad I have the bigger one! The nine trays allows for doubling of recipes. Keep in mind that I cook and play around with food a lot, so a larger model suits my lifestyle.
A dehydrator is a great addition to a healthy diet but this is just a snippet of the benefits, cautions and tips for dehydrating foods. A raw vegan diet or plant based diet does not require a dehydrator nor is a dehydrator only suited for strict vegans.
There are now many available resources and cookbooks for the dehydrating curious! Most of my favourite dehydrator cookbooks actually come from raw vegan restaurants. My go-to dehydrator/raw vegan cookbook is Raw Essence.
Here are some raw vegan restaurants (or restaurants with raw vegan food on their menu) I’ve dined in and loved!
– Amsterdam, Netherlands
Bottom-line: If you love playing in the kitchen, if you appreciate interesting vegan cuisine, if you like following a full or partial raw vegan diet, if you have the space and time for a dehydrator, then do it! Put it on your Christmas list! Be sure to add a dehydrator cookbook to that list so you can start with some basic recipes!