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If you like hiking, or going to the park, you know how important snacks are. You need a good pick-me-up, one that is tasty and loaded with energy. You may already be a fan of packing jerky but, how would you like to bring the cost even lower? These are the best dehydrators for jerky!
A dehydrator is the way to go, but not every dehydrator will yield the same results. For jerky, you need a certain type of machine if you want the best snack you can get. Ready to know more?
What is the Best Dehydrator for Jerky?
The principle, at the core, is simple: hot air flows around your chosen food to draw away all moisture without actually cooking it. Any machine bearing the name will get your food dehydrated, but if you want optimal results you need to look a bit closer. How? For starters, there’s how they carry the heat within:
The heat element is located either at the top or the bottom of the appliance. They tend to be cheaper, more compact, and often give you room to expand them by buying more shelves to put food on for dehydrating. They don’t spread heat quite evenly however, and if you want to bet the best results possible you will have to switch trays constantly. Another potential drawback is, the range of foods they can work with is more limited.
If you’re looking at the best dehydrators for jerky, many people reference vertical flow models. A vertical flow dehydrator is less likely to treat your meat right; some models, however, might still turn out to be great at it.
On the other hand, some of the best dehydrators for jerky can also be found in horizontal flow units. A jerky fan who cares about their snack might want to go for this, the more expensive variety. Horizontal flow dehydrators work similarly to a convection oven, with the heat element situated towards the back. Aside from their cost, they are also larger, but that might be an advantage if you prefer to process bigger batches of food. They are also easier to use since you can leave them to their job without having to switch trays around; they will be capable of handling a wider variety of edibles; and, by design, they are usually the best at turning your meat of choice into jerky.
Between One & The Other: Defining Factors
Now we know which type we should prefer, but we are not done: there are other factors that will play a part in making the final decision.
Indeed, horizontal flow dehydrators will always be overall bigger than their vertical flow counterparts; however, there will still be differences between one model and another. It might be convenient to check the space available in that corner of your counter before picking the one unit you will be bringing home.
What measures has the manufacturer taken to maximize air flow and heat distribution? This is what we should look at before making our decision. The more efficient an appliance is at this, the better for you and your food.
Ease of use
Control schemes may vary, and some will be more user friendly than others. A machine that anyone can use is always more convenient.
All dehydrators feature a fan to keep the hot air flowing; as such, sound to be expected. Likely, you will want your appliance of choice to work quietly so it will not disrupt your day to day.
This measures the amount of power the unit consumes. The higher this value, the higher the loads it can handle, and the better it is at applying heat. This will, however, directly impact your utility bill.
Why Not Just Use The Oven?
As tempting as it may be to forgo the investment in a new appliance and use one you already have, here are a few reasons why you might want to think about it a second time:
More often than not, an oven’s minimum temperature will be too high for properly dehydrating your food, and it will cook it instead. Furthermore, an oven is usually not as capable of keeping the temperature uniform all over your edibles for best results.
Dehydrating food is a very slow process. Your electric bill will be different if you run a 5,000 to 38,000 Watts oven for about 10 hours, versus a 1,000W dehydrator.
Next up: Some great picks for you to peruse!
1. COSORI CP267-FD
The digital display features the timer and four buttons to operate the appliance. You can set the dehydrating period in 30-minute increments all the way to 48 hours. The machine shuts off automatically when the timer ends.
Noise level is fairly low, at 48 dB. Temperature can be set between 95 and 165°F. The 6 trays can be put through the dishwasher. Tray lines can be washed in this way too, as long as they are placed on the top rack and removed before the drying cycle. Included: mesh screen, fruit roll sheet and recipe book.
- Dishwasher safe.
- User friendly.
- Very quiet.
- Tray liners have to receive special treatment if run through the dishwasher.
- Digital display is known to malfunction.
2. Excalibur 3926TB
Speaking of investment, this is a hefty one, but you might decide it’s worth it: Its 9 trays provide a total capacity of about 6lbs of meat, and temperature can be set anywhere between 105 and 165°F. Its fan measures a full 7”, which promotes air flow. Aside from your meats, this one can take care of your herbs, yogurts, vegetables and more.
Timer can go all the way to 26 hours, which should allow you to use this appliance for just about anything you need dehydrated. Once time runs out, the appliance will shut off on its own. Trays are dishwasher safe.
- Convenient temperature range to accommodate a wider variety of foods.
- Decent amount of convenience due to its features and dishwasher safe accessories.
- Its price might keep it out of reach for an average budget.
- Tray capacity cannot be increased.
- Performance can disappoint sometimes: food might come out not properly dehydrated due to insufficient heat.
3. Nesco FD-28JX JerkyXpress
Vertical and all, its dedication to jerky is not just in the name: aside from a recipe book, this unit comes with seasoning and cure samples, as well as a jerky gun. Its potency comes at 350 Watts, to help with uniform heat distribution. Temperature is fixed at 160°F. 4 trays included, which can be expanded all the way to 7. This is easily one of our contenders for best dehydrators for jerky.
Trays are dishwasher safe, and you might also like its fairly low price tag.
- Easy to clean.
- Packed with features and advice tailored specifically for its objective.
- Bare in features, such as a timer.
- Using it for anything besides jerky might prove problematic, due to the fixed temperature.
4. Magic Mill MFD-7100
The features it comes with might justify its mid range price, and then some: its 95-165°F temperature range and 7 adjustable trays should enable you to work with quite a few sorts of items. Set it to work for up to 24 hours in 30-minute increments, and the unit will turn off when time is up. If you so choose, you can keep some heat on your food without worrying about burning it, by using the KEEP WARM function.
There is no need to worry about the unit running too hot, as the overheat protection will kick in if temperature goes too high. 480W power, all accessories are dishwasher safe. Also included: fine mesh sheets, fruit leather trays and oven mitts.
- A good amount of value in features and accessories, for its price.
- Known to be rather noisy.
- Sometimes it will not raise temperature to the proper level.
5. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric
Stack up to 8 trays, or keep to the 4 it comes with. Even though it is a vertical type, its design allows it to forgo swapping trays during the dehydrating process, due in part to its 600W potency. Temperature is fixed to about 165°F, which is fairly appropriate for making jerky; and even though the unit cannot be turned on or off manually, there is a light to indicate whether the unit is receiving power and therefore functioning, or unplugged and inactive.
Both trays and cover can be safely put to be dishwasher. Other accessories such as fruit roll sheets, mesh screens, and jerky spice kits are available separately.
- No tray rotation needed.
- Cleaning is simple.
- Not many features: there is no on/off switch and temperature is fixed.
6. Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator, 5 Tray, Gray
Since its maximum temperature is 160°F, making chicken and turkey jerky will first require a run through the oven to eliminate any bacteria. Even though it is vertical, its 500W potency has helped it yield acceptable results when making jerky, in the view of several consumers. Thanks to its clear lid, checking food progress is fairly easy. Defiantly among the best dehydrators for jerky, this is a great unit to start with.
Timer can be set for up to 48 hours, and the unit will turn itself off when done. Minimum temperature is 100°F, which should allow you to process more types of food in this machine. 5-tray capacity. Accessories included: fine mesh sheet for herbs and solid sheet for fruit rolls.
- Accessible to a medium budget.
- Fair amount of accessories.
- Making poultry jerky is a somewhat complicated process, requiring an extra step.
- Known to display an “Er” message for no apparent reason, and if this happens the unit may very well be beyond repair.
7. Chefman RJ43-SQ-6-CA
Even though its temperature range (95-158°F) falls a bit short of the optimal level for jerky, results when drying meat have been generally hailed as acceptable. The control panel at the front features only 4 buttons, and its digital thermostat comes with 8 preset levels.
The countdown timer can go for up to 19 hours and a half, shutting the unit off when time runs out. The door is transparent, which helps check dehydration progress without having to let the hot air out. 6-tray capacity.
- Widely considered to run rather quietly.
- Not complicated to operate.
- Somewhat limited: temperature can only be adjusted by preset level, and timer doesn’t run as long as other options.
- Not a lot of extra features.
Which is the Best Dehydrators for Jerky?Nesco FD-28JX JerkyXpress
It’s potent for its size. Comes with samples, seasonings, jerky gun, recipes; in summary, everything you need. It’s small, fairly portable, and you don’t have to guess since it is already set to the right temperature. It may not be the quietest, but it is also not among the loudest.
See also: Want to freshen up more than just your cured beef game? Check out these awesome coastal design accessories!
Vertical flow and all, impressions from consumers have been positive. Turkey, beef, chicken, any sort of jerky comes out properly done – and tasty! True, it requires extra vigilance since it has no timer; but the results are worth it. This little unit shall treat the jerky fan in your life quite well. To me, that’s what goes into the best dehydrators for jerky.
And, to top it all off, its price cannot easily be beat!