Let me share my personal experience with you today. I started farming in my backyard one year ago both as a hobby and a way for doing physical exercises. A few months back my hard work paid back and paid back too much. I harvested a lot of tomatoes and it was simply not possible to store them all.
I couldn’t just let them rot away. I started looking up on the internet to find methods for preserving tomatoes. I learned about the ways our ancestors used to preserve tomatoes as well as the new methods being used all over the world.
Based on my research, I was about to order a food dehydrator but then another article caught my attention. It was about an air fryer that can be used as a food dehydrator. Did I think why not?
An air fryer can perfectly be used as a food dehydrator. A food dehydrator serves only one purpose but an air fryer is a multi-purpose kitchen appliance. You can roast, bake, grill, or fry in an air fryer as well. When you are not dehydrating, you can put the air fryer into other uses and that hit me in the right spot and I went for an air fryer.
Can I really use an air fryer as a food dehydrator? No buts?
If you know how people used to store foods previously and have some understanding of the mechanism of both of these gadgets you will get the hang of it yourself.
How people used to preserve food?
There are tons of ways available for food preservation. Arguably the most popular and ancient way of preserving food is dehydrating. Harnessing the power of the sun occasionally with some added salt you can dehydrate your food effectively and store them for a long time.
Almost all of our food contains a lot of water which allows bacteria to grow and degrade it. Our smart ancestors found that out a long ago and started taking out the water content by drying them under the sun.
Unfortunately, the sun is not always that kind all year round and all over the world. So nowadays we harness the power of electricity to achieve the same result. That’s where dehydrators and air fryers come into action.
How does an Air Fryer Work
An air fryer works at a high temperature and it circulates hot air around the basket containing the food and cooks it fast. It entirely depends on the circulation of hot air and requires a little or no cooking oil.
An air fryer gives you healthier alternatives to deep frying foods. You can enjoy the same flavour, taste, and texture of food but without using any oil. Isn’t that compelling? You will finally be able to cut off the use of cooking oil in your meal that physicians and dieticians are asking us for a long time.
Air fryers come with a lot of options. You can preset the temperature and time for frying. Intelligent use of these functionalities will allow you to cook different dishes and put the air fryer in multiple uses.
How does a food dehydrator work?
A food dehydrator works pretty much the same way an air fryer does. It also depends on hot air circulation to get the job done. But it works at a much lower temperature compared to an air fryer and takes hours or even days to complete the dehydrating process.
It gets rid of the moisture slowly and has a ventilation system to exhaust the moist air. It contains multiple layers and can process a lot of items at a time.
So if you ask me can an air fryer be used as a food dehydrator? The answer is yes. But, you need to keep in mind that not all air fryers can be used as food dehydrators. You will want to check out the product specifications provided by the manufacturers before making a decision.
Specially consider the following points:
Check out if the air fryer has a good ventilation system through which it can get rid of the moist air. Otherwise, the moist air will be kept circulating and you won’t get the desired dehydrating result.
Is the air fryer able to run for a long time like 24 to 40 hours without interruption? If not you need to be aware that you can’t dehydrate foods that take a long time to be dehydrated.
Can you set the temperature as low as 40C to 45C? If not, you will get cooked food instead of dehydrated food.
If you are wondering how much electricity your air fryer may consume, you can read this article.
General tips for dehydrating foods
Some preparations should be taken before dehydrating foods like washing your foods, slicing, blanching, or skin scalding, etc.
Taking precautions and maintaining hygiene is also important in dehydrating. To prevent unwanted contaminants wearing gloves and washing foods is necessary because there are natural oil and moisture in our hands which contaminates food by reintroducing moisture.
While slicing foods, stainless kitchen scissors can be more useful than knives. Food should be sliced very thin.
When it comes to blanching or skin scalding, blanching is to place foods in boiling for 30 to 60 seconds before dehydrating.
Scalding is a process to soften the skin to remove the skin which also occurs during blanching.
Very importantly foods should be pinched to confirm if it is dehydrated or not. If any moisture comes out the foods are not dehydrated properly.
Parchment papers can be used on the food-carrying trays to avoid sticking to the tray and for better results.
What food can be dehydrated?
It’s a great alleviation that an abundance of food can be dehydrated easily at home with the exclusion of high fats.
But other than fruits, meats and most vegetables should be cooked or balanced before dehydrating.
Sometimes with a bunch of dehydrated food, a proper meal can be prepared. Apple, tomatoes, blueberries, carrots, potatoes, lamb meat, etc are some common food in the dehydrating area!
Moreover, food dehydrating is very suitable for seasonal fruits or vegetables.
Does food lose nutrients or taste if dehydrated?
If you are thinking about this then you don’t have anything to be concerned about. Most studies end with the positive comment that a minimal portion of the nutritional value is removed during dehydration.
Compared to cooked foods, dehydrated foods are much more natural because a small amount of vitamin C may be lost due to heat or blanching while other vitamins are mostly intact.
As for the taste it also may change the taste to some extent. Rather sometimes it will give you much more interesting or fusioned taste than the original food.
What are the benefits of food dehydration?
Amazing benefits can be found in dehydrating foods. It’s natural and can be stored through the year so dehydrating is a great way to bring variety in the meal chart through the year.
it’s easy to preserve and to carry on trips. They take less storage than other foods, providing the taste of seasonal foods throughout the year.
Fat and bacterias are reduced in them, they are free from chemicals etc. Sounding really awesome, isn’t it? You will find tons of yummy recipes online for dehydrated foods.
So to conclude I must say an air fryer is an excellent kitchen appliance for all. Most of the available air fryers in the market can be used as a food dehydrator as well.
It’s also very useful for those who are looking for an alternative method of traditional deep frying. As a multi-purpose kitchen appliance, it will make your life easier than before. I will put my two cents in an air fryer and so should you. Happy cooking!