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If you’ve never used or had a dehydrator before, boy, you’re in for a treat. Whilst the name doesn’t sound particularly pleasant, dehydrators do what they say on the tin – take the moisture out of food – and open a whole new world of possibilities for vegans and raw vegans alike.
Dehydrated foods like apple chips, raw pizza bases and raw crackers are great for those who are transitioning from a Standard American Diet to a raw vegan one, but they can cost an arm and a leg (and, in some cases, your house and entire life savings). So why not make them at home?
Here’s everything you need to know about the magical world of dehydrated foods and a guide to the best dehydrators for raw food.
Just be prepared to become so addicted to your dehydrator that you consider giving up work to become a full-time professional dried food producer.
That’s got to be a thing, right?Jump to Comparison Table for Best Stainless Steel Dehydrators
What is raw food diet?
Firstly, what is a raw food diet? Whilst it might sound complicated, raw vegan lifestyles are based around simplicity and health. Given that a diet abundant with fresh fruits and veggies can help to prevent major diseases like diabetes and cancer, it seems logical that we should get as many of them as we possibly can. And it’s not just about salads.
A raw vegan diet involves stunning meals, from creamy smoothies and soups to healthy takes on typical Western dishes like cookies and cakes, and lasagna and pizza.
The difference between a veggie or vegan lifestyle and a raw vegan lifestyle is that, whatever form you’re eating your fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds in, they should be eaten raw. Put simply, this means that they shouldn’t be heated above 115F. Why? Because the enzymes found in fruits and veggies that fill each of our cells with living energy are damaged when heated and cooked. This makes them harder for our body to digest, and can damage the nutritional content. Considering that eating fresh fruits and veggies can help prevent and fight everything from diabetes to cancer, it’s simply the best way of life for your health, body and mind.
And, given that raw cheesecake is a thing, it’s best for your taste buds too…
Do you need a dehydrator on raw food lifestyle?
It’s certainly possible to live your best raw food life without a dehydrator. Because this way of life is about simple, natural goodness, a dehydrator isn’t top of the list of priorities. But, dehydrators are incredible tools that allow us to create healthy, raw vegan versions of typically unhealthy Western dishes, like pizza, burgers and chips.
It’s true to say that dehydrated foods aren’t the way nature intended us to eat them, given that dehydrating involves removing the water content from food. And they’re not as easy for the body to digest as fresh fruits and veggies. But it’s worth having one of these amazing pieces of kit in your arsenal, for the occasional fancy meal that’ll knock any non-raw-vegan’s socks off.
Benefits of dehydrated fruits and vegetables
1. They make nutritious (and delicious!) snacks
Typical American snacks like chips and candy are seriously lacking in any kind of nutritional benefit. Dehydrators can help us to make sweet and savory raw vegan snacks, including granola bars, chips and fruit roll ups. These awesome snacks not only look and taste amazing, but, since they’re just fruits and veggies that haven’t been damaged by heat, they’ll do wonders for your body. Snack away!
2. They’re free from preservatives
Unlike chips, crackers and other typical American snacks, dehydrated fruits and veggies are completely free of preservatives. Pre-packed pineapple slices and mango slices are also usually loaded with added sugar (not that fruit provides its own, natural sugar or anything… *eye roll*), so by making your own, you know they’re full of nothing but the good stuff. Your health says thanks.
And so will your wallet; dried fruits can be crazy expensive in grocery stores and online. $14 bucks for an 8oz bag of pineapple? Do I get a new car with that, too?
3. They’re super filling
Unlike process snacks, that offer us nothing but energy rollercoasters, excess sugar and harmful preservatives and additives that leave us wanting yet another snack about half an hour later, dehydrated raw vegan snacks are super filling. They’re packed with nutritional goodness and fiber, which satiate us, and fill our cells with natural, healthy energy.
4. They’re simple to make
Whilst you’ve probably never used a dehydrator before, don’t be put off – it’s actually super easy to make dehydrated raw food snacks. A lot of recipes simply require slicing or blending ingredients, laying them out on a dehydrator tray and popping them in. Et voila.
How do I dehydrate raw food?
As with all appliances, specific instructions will vary, depending on the type you go for, but, as a general rule, dehydrators will have several trays on which you can lay out your chosen produce. As long as the temperature stays below 115F, the food will still be raw, and great for your body. Most have a temperature control, so just make sure it stays at this temperature or below.
How does a dehydrator work?
So how does a dehydrator turn fresh kale into a crunchy snack superstar? It’s actually pretty simple. It uses a low temperature and fan to remove the water from food, just without damaging the nutritional content of it or destroying the living enzymes found in food that we need for our bodies to thrive.
What should I look for when buying dehydrator for preparing raw foods?
There are so many dehydrators on the market to choose from. So what are you actually looking for when purchasing? Getting the right dehydrator for you will depend on what you’re going to use it for, but these are the following aspects to consider:
How big is the dehydrator, and will it fit in your kitchen space?
Does it have a timer? These are great for obvious reasons – recipes are a doddle! Simply set the timer and go about your raw vegan business until your snacks are ready.
- The power/airflow
How powerful is it? In other words, how long will it take to make your snacks? If, like me you get hungry rather easily, it’s something important to consider.
- Temperature control
You want to make sure you’re keeping your dehydrator at 115F or below, to preserve the enzymes in food that give it that ‘raw’ status
How many trays does it have? This can vary wildly, depending on the size of the dehydrator. If you’re looking for a dehydrator you can use occasionally, a few trays will suffice. But one with several trays might be better if you think you’ll be using it often, and creating super fancy dishes on the daily.
How powerful is the machine? This will affect how long it takes to make your delicious snacks and meals. You don’t wanna be waiting 3 days for your apple chips.
Noise can also vary massively depending on the dehydrator you choose, and the motor it uses. Will it bother you if it’s a little noisier? Or do you love your peace and quiet, even when tasty raw vegan snacks are at stake? Just something to consider…
You need a shape and size that will fit in your kitchen, of course.
How many trays can it hold? How big are the trays? How many kale chips can one make with this dehydrator? This is the burning question. Or the removing water at 115F question, I should say.
Last, but certainly not least, what the dehydrator is made from is super important. Most are either stainless steel or plastic, and stainless steel is far better, but why?
Stainless Steel vs Plastic: Why should you buy stainless steel? Are plastic food dehydrators safe?
It seems that the world is finally waking up to the dangers and catastrophic effects on the earth of plastic. It’s pretty clear that, regardless of whether you’re looking for a grab and go drink or an at-home appliance, if you can avoid plastic, you probably should.
Why choose stainless steel?
• They’re less noisy
The main types of dehydrator on the market are plastic and stainless steel appliances. Stainless steel dehydrators, as the name suggests, are usually made completely from steel, and they’re actually considered more effective than their plastic counterparts. This is because they tend to be less noisy, which means you can dehydrate away at night, without annoying your entire family.
• They won’t contaminate your food
Whilst plastic can be harmful, as it can react with acidic foods and produce toxic substances, there’s no need to worry with steel. A non-reactive material, it can deal with acidic foods like a boss.
• They’re super stylish
As a general rule, plastic appliances tend to look a little less professional chef and a little more, well, cheap. In contrast, many stainless steel food dehydrators look slick on the countertop. Just don’t invite your boss over – she’ll think she’s paying you too much.
• They’re a doddle to clean
Whilst plastic can sometimes be a pain to clean – stubborn stains often linger and discolor it over time – stainless steel dehydrators can be kept looking on point easily. A simple wiping down with a wet cloth should do the trick, and many stainless steel dehydrator trays are suitable for the dishwasher!
• They’re long-lasting
Stainless steel dehydrators are much more durable than plastic ones, which means they should last longer too. They’re much less likely to be damaged or break, so you can look forward to years of delicious snacks and meals, all courtesy of your stainless steel dehydrator.
• They’re great for becoming a raw food dehydrator Queen
Because stainless steel dehydrators normally offer much more space than plastic ones, you can experiment with fancy-pants recipes for the whole family. Again, if your family is anything like mine, whatever raw vegan awesomeness you lovingly prepare will ‘go missing’ within a matter of minutes. Just follow the cracker crumbs to find the culprit…
Are there any downsides to stainless steel dehydrators?
• They tend to be bigger and heavier
Whilst this isn’t necessarily a con, as bigger and heavier should mean more durable and better quality, if you’re looking for a space saving appliance, or one that’s easily moveable, some bigger dehydrators might not be right for you and your kitchen. Just check the dimensions of each machine to find the best size for you.
• They can be more expensive
Again, this isn’t necessarily a con. Yes, stainless steel dehydrators tend to be more expensive than plastic ones, but, given they’re durability and better effectiveness, you really do get what you pay for. There are some cheaper stainless steel dehydrators (check out my reviews below!), which are not only affordable, but should last much longer than plastic counterparts.
And if you’ve read my blender articles, you’ll know how much buying cheap appliances that break after 2 months gets my goat. And you really don’t wanna cross a raw vegan without her blender… or dehydrator for that matter. Stay safe out there.
Suffice to say, if you can, get a stainless steel dehydrator. It’s less noisy, more effective, and should last much longer. But with so many to choose from, which is the best stainless steel dehydrator for raw food?
How I Selected Raw Food Dehydrators for This Review
With so many appliances on the market, how did I select which to review? Thankfully, it’s super easy to select the cream of the stainless-steel dehydrator crop by looking at user reviews, the features of each appliance, and the included warranty, if any.
Each appliance selected is a fantastic buy, but which you choose will depend on the size, price and power that you’re looking for.
Reviews of best Stainless-Steel Food Dehydrators
Whilst the name might sound more like something found at Area 51 than in your average raw vegan kitchen, this STX DEH XLS Dehydra 100% stainless steel appliance (try remembering that) is a great purchase. With 1200 watts of power, 16 square feet of frying space and 10 stainless steel dehydrator trays, this commercial grade dehydrator will have you knocking dehydrated masterpieces out of the park.
It also comes with a 15-hour timer, so you can go about your day and come back to delicious raw vegan snacks in abundance, as well as a variable thermostat, for ensuring your food preserves as many enzymes and vitamins as possible.
A whopping 30,000 of these dehydrators have been sold in the USA in the last seven years, and the reviews certainly explain why. With 4.4 stars out of 5 on average and 5/5 stars for ease of use, it’s clear that this appliance is user approved.
One reviewer says her food has been prepared perfectly, there’s plenty of room and it’s really easy to clean. Another comments on how quiet the motor is, and how nice it is not to worry about chemicals seeping into their food!
Each STX dehydrator comes with a 1-year fix or replace warranty. So if anything at all goes wrong in the first year, it’ll be taken care of.
- It’s made completely from stainless steel, no plastic in sight!
- It has a 15-hour timer
- It has a variable thermostat
- It’s easy to clean
- It comes with a 1-year fix or replace warranty
- It’s good value for money
- It’s not the most stylish model
The bottom lineIf you don’t mind a slightly less attractive model, this great value dehydrator is perfect for those on a tighter budget, and is all you’ll need to open the door into the dehydrated raw vegan food world… which you should do ASAP, by the way.
This TSM 100% Stainless Steel Dehydrator, whilst arguably a little less stylish than some other appliances, will certainly up your raw food game. With 10 stainless steel shelves for preparing snacks and meals for the entire family, anti-rust steel, ability to maintain even dehydrating temperatures, adjustable thermostat and removable back panel for easy cleaning and maintenance (and breathe), it’s the perfect weapon in any raw vegan’s arsenal!
You won’t find any plastic interior in this machine, and it even features a balanced fan for quiet dehydration, horizontal air flow for even drying and durable material.
One user of the TSM dehydrator comments on the machine’s high quality. They say that the temperature control and timer are accurate, and another has revisited their excellent original review to say that, 4 years in, her appliance is still going strong!
The TSM dehydrator comes with a 1-year warranty, for peace of (fruit jerky) mind.
- It’s made completely from stainless steel – no plastic whatsoever!
- Anti-rust steel
- 10 stainless steel dehydrator shelves
- Plenty of interior space
- Adjustable thermostat
- It’s easy to clean
- Has a balanced fan for quiet food prep
- It comes with a 1-year warranty
- It’s not the most stylish model on the market
- It’s more expensive than some available models, but you can always get a 5 tray model to save some money.
The bottom lineIf you don’t mind a slightly less attractive model and a higher price tag, this 100% stainless steel dehydrator, with loads of room for raw vegan snacks aplenty, is a great buy. With anti-rust steel, it’s sure to last the test of time. Plus, it’s quiet, which is great if you have young family members (or particularly grouchy ones).
An awesome choice for your raw vegan kitchen, this Tribest Sedona Classic dehydrator comes with overheat protection, to prevent your raw food from being overheated (praise the health Lords!), mesh screens and digital display for ease of use. You can choose a model with BPA-free plastic trays or stainless steel trays, the latter being more expensive, but very worth it in the long run.
It has plenty of room for all of your dehydration needs, and, not that it’s bragging, but it does look super stylish. You would not mind this piece of raw vegan royalty sitting proudly atop your counter… for all of your friends to see and get jealous of. Just saying.
One user describes how the Tribest is super easy to use and quiet enough to leave on in the kitchen. Another user loves how you can set a preferred temperature, as well as timing.
With an amazing 5 year warranty, the Tribest Sedona Classic makes for no-stress dehydration. And that’s the best kind of dehydration, really.
- Comes with overheat protection – great for raw vegan dishes!
- Make sure to choose the model with stainless steel trays
- Has an easy to use digital display
- It’s super stylish
- Has a night-mode function for quieter food prep
- Has an LED display for night use
- Dual fan technology saves energy
- It is more expensive than some other models on the market
- It is not 100% stainless steel, as the interior walls and exterior casing are made of plastic. But the bits that come into contact with your food – the trays – are stainless steel and contain no black coloring chemicals.
The bottom lineIf you’re a raw food connoisseur, the Tribest Sedona, with its overheat protection, will ensure the enzymes and nutrients in your food are protected, and you unlock as much of the good stuff in your fruits and veggies as possible. It’ll look amazing in your kitchen, but it will set you back over $500, so it’s not the most budget friendly. But, if you have the money, it’s the perfect addition to your raw vegan kitchen.
The Excalibur D900CDSHD 9 (I have no idea how they come up with these names…) is an awesome choice for any raw food kitchen. With 9 trays and 15 square feet of drying space, there’s really nothing you can’t do with this amazing piece of tech. It also features an adjustable thermostat, 26-hour timer, guide to dehydration and preservation and patented hyper wave technology. This removes water from your food with ‘continuous circulation of thermostatically-controlled warm air’. In real terms, this simply means that your food will be dried evenly and effectively. Plus, it’s arguably the nicest looking out of this list. Sold!
The only drawback to the Excalibur machine is that this particular model is not 100% stainless steel; whilst the trays and exterior are steel, the interior is made from plastic, which isn’t great if you’re trying to avoid plastic altogether. Excalibur do make a 100% stainless steel appliance – the Excalibur EXC10EL. It will set you back over a thousand bucks, but if you’ve got it, go for it!
One reviewer, who rated the Excalibur 5 stars out of 5, said the information book is really helpful, there’s plenty of space for your food and the trays are dishwasher safe. Another says the glass door is great for checking how well your food is progressing, and it’s really easy to clean.
This is where the Excalibur really stands out in the dehydrator crowd. With a whopping 10-year limited warranty, you can dehydrate like there’s no tomorrow with this machine. It certainly speaks volumes about its quality and longevity. Suffice to say, I love this!
- There’s plenty of space for food – it has 9 trays and 15 square feet of drying space!
- Has an adjustable thermostat
- It features a 26-hour timer, for dehydration multi-tasking
- It comes with a handy guide
- Features patented hyperwave technology, for even drying
- It’s one of the nicest looking dehydrators on the market
- It comes with an amazing 10-year warranty
- It’s not 100% stainless steel
- Around $500 might seem pricey, but the 10 year warranty does completely justify it
The bottom line
The bottom line
This stainless-steel Excalibur food dehydrator is certainly my favorite in terms of style. It has plenty of space, patented technology and comes with an unbeatable 10-year warranty. It’s worth spending the money on something that’s guaranteed to last the test of time.
Designed in California, this Cosori Premium Food Dehydrator Machine is one of the more compact models available, and is fantastic value for money. With 6 stainless steel trays, a mesh screen, a fruit roll sheet and manual, it’s the perfect dehydrator starter kit for your raw vegan kitchen! It even has an easy to use digital control panel – you can set the timer for up to 48 hours in 30-minute increments.
As well as being great value for money and compact, it’s one of the quieter models on the market – its 48dB equals noise recorded in a library. You read that right – a library! Its tray liners are completely BPA-free and the trays dishwasher safe.
With 4.7 stars out of 5 on average, the Cosori doesn’t just sound good – it’s tried and tested. Users comment on how quiet the appliance is, how tasty the food they prepare is and how easy it is to vary the temperature, depending on what you’re trying to make.
As if it hasn’t shown off enough, the Cosori dehydrator comes with a brilliant 2-year warranty, as well as a 90-day money back guarantee and lifetime support from Cosori. It’s nice to know you can make as many apple chips as your household can eat without worry in the world… apart from how you’re actually gonna get your hands on any before they’re eaten by the food monsters that you call your family members.
- It’s amazing value for money
- It’s really quiet
- It comes with a 2-year warranty
- It also has a 90-day money back guarantee
- Get a lifetime of support from the manufacturer
- It’s easy to change the temperature and time
- The trays are dishwasher safe
- It looks stylish
- At around $150, it’s the most affordable model on the list
- It’s not 100% plastic free, but the plastic parts won’t come into contact with any of your food
- At a push, you might say that it’s smaller than other models, which is a downside if you’re looking to prepare loads of dehydrated food in one go
The bottom line
I am so in love with this machine! The benefits are just endless, from being affordable to looking stylish to being protected by a 2-year warranty to being as quiet as a library. It’s more compact than other models, which makes it great for those with less kitchen space, and it’s so easy to clean.
Whether you’re dehydrator-curious or a seasoned dehydrator queen (excuse the pun), this Cosori model is just awesome!
Raw food dehydrator FAQs
1. Are the plastic sheets safe to use in dehydrators?
There are so many varieties of dehydrator sheet to choose from. Essentially, this is just something to put on the trays in the dehydrator, before you pop your food in. Whilst plastic sheets are available for dehydrators, and considered ‘safe’, plastic is actually incredibly toxic, and should be avoided where possible. And with so many alternatives to choose from, there’s just no need to use them!
How about silicone sheets instead? Coated with non-toxic silicone, and with absolutely no Teflon, these innovative sheets are perfect for Excalibur dehydrators and a much better option than plastic sheets.
Or for a completely natural alternative, stock up on thick parchment paper, like these pre-cut sheets that can withstand high temperatures (not that you’ll need it, cos of the raw vegan thing, but still). They’re non-stick, durable and unbleached, making them completely chemical-free… which is the way I prefer my meals.
2. Is dehydrated food healthy?
Absolutely! Whilst eating completely fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds is always the best way, dehydrated foods not only taste amazing, but preserve the majority of the nutrients and enzymes that make our bodies love raw vegan food. Because you’re not heating your food too much, you’re not completely destroying its nutritional value.
Dehydrated snacks like roll ups and kale chips are also fantastic for kids, as they’re great to munch on the go, and taste just like processed snacks.
3. Do dehydrated fruit and vegetables lose nutrients?
Whilst dehydrated foods are a great addition to the raw vegan diet, we shouldn’t rely too much on them, as some vitamins are affected by the dehydration process. Vitamin A and vitamin C in particular can be damaged by heat and air. When we compare fresh and dried foods, it’s clear that fresh are always winning the health race: in 1 ounce of fresh basil, you’re looking at getting 30% of your recommended intake of vitamin A and 8% of your vitamin C, but in the dried equivalent, you’re looking at 2% of your daily vitamin C and 4% of your vitamin A.
But really, as long as you’re getting plenty of fresh fruits and veggies (which you inevitably will on a carb-heavy raw vegan diet), enjoying some dehydrated snacks and meals is still offering you a heck of a lot more nutritionally than anything on the Standard American Diet. So dehydrate away!
4. What can I make with a dehydrator?
What can’t you make?! Okay, so that’s a slight exaggeration… but, seriously, the possibilities are endless. With a dehydrator at home, never again will you have to buy kale chips, dried fruits or fancy raw vegan meals from the grocery store; they’re all a doddle with a dehydrator.
Chips made from fruits and veggies like zucchini, apple and kale are a fantastic on-the-go snack, and kids love them. Pair zucchini chips with this gorgeous recipe for raw hummus from Fully Raw Kristina for the ultimate healthy snack or starter.
Or how about a sandwich? Just without the gut-destroying gluten, additives and preservatives and stuff.
Don’t mind if I do!
On the sweet side, the list is endless. Obviously dried fruit is an obvious one, but how about homemade fruit roll ups? Or, for a serious showstopper, and great for showing your friends and family that raw vegan isn’t just about salad, how about some raw vegan cinnamon rolls? With the help of a dehydrator, Laura Miller (who penned ‘Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.’) shows you how to ‘bake’ this sweet treat, raw style.
So, yeah… what can’t you make with a dehydrator?
5. How long does dehydrated fruit last?
There’s lots of conflicting information on how long dehydrated fruit lasts. Given that the moisture has been completely removed, it will of course last an awful lot longer than anything fresh. Some say, if stored properly, dehydrated fruit can last anything up to 5 years. Although, if you’re a fruit-mad raw vegan like me with mini fruit-mad raw vegans in the house, it won’t need to last longer than 24 hours.
Other sources say dried fruits can be stored for up to a year. Ultimately, how and where you store your dried foods is going to affect how long it lasts.
6. How do you store dehydrated food?
There are so many ways to store dehydrated food, and what you choose really depends on how long you’d like it to last. As a general rule, most dehydrated foods last 3-6 months, and some up to a year, without the need for vacuum sealed packs. And, even better news, your food won’t ‘lose’ nutritional value.
Mason jars are perfect for popping in dried fruit snacks and their screw lids make them easily accessible. Of course, more air is going to get to food in mason jars than it would in a vacuum sealer bag, which is certainly preferred if you’d like your snacks to last more than a few months. And, whatever they’re stored in, they should be kept in a cool, dark and dry location and kept below 60 degrees.
7. Are dehydrators difficult to use ?
Unlike blenders, juicers and other common kitchen appliances, dehydrators aren’t exactly well known and widely used. But don’t let that put you off…
Dehydrators are actually so simple to use. As long as you arm yourself with a decent produce knife for cutting thin slices of fruits and veggies, and a blender for creating burger and bread mixes, you’re pretty much good to go.
Each appliance will come with its own set of instructions, of course, but it’s normally a matter of placing your fruit and veggie slices or blended mix on your preferred tray lining (on the tray, of course), popping it in the dehydrator, selecting your preferred temperature, and pressing go! Most have timers and if you’re following a recipe, the time it takes to dehydrate your chosen food should be provided.
Some dehydrators have clear doors, so it’s easy to see how your food’s coming along, which makes it even easier to prepare dried snacks and meals, even without following specific recipes. And of course, YouTube always comes to the rescue… with thousands of videos on dehydrators, how to use them, and what beautiful raw vegan meals you can prepare with them, there’s endless information online for the dehydrator-curious. This one shows you how to prepare fresh fruits and veggies and turn them into dehydrated (and delicious) snacks.
If you haven’t opened the door to the new world of dehydrated raw vegan amazingness yet, you really should.
Whilst, for optimum health on a raw vegan diet, we should be aiming to eat mainly fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, epic dehydrated snacks and meals like raw vegan cheese and almond crackers, mushroom burgers and chocolate chip cookies make the transition to raw vegan so easy. And when we’re fancying something a little different, it’s much better to reach for the dehydrator and whip up some raw vegan brownie bites than go for the cooked, full-fat, full-of-junk version.
And with so many amazing stainless steel food dehydrators on the market, you’re sure to find one that suits your budget, kitchen size… and tolerance for noise. The only thing you’ll need to factor in is how in love your family will be with all of your epic dried creations, and how many dehydrators you will ultimately need to satisfy their appetite for said dishes. In my case, I reckon I need a kitchen full of them to keep up with current demand.
You’ve been warned!