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10 tips for using your new dehydrator

New to dehydrating foods? Here are 10 tips to make your first batches of fruit, vegetables or meat a success.

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Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
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Dehydrate like items

Always dehydrate items that need the same temperature together in one batch.

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Slick the stick

For easy cleanup, always spray your trays with non-stick cooking spray before you start placing items on them.

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​Lemon juice is your friend

The high acidic content of lemon juice will prevent fruits, like apples and bananas, from turning brown during dehydration. Let your fruit soak in a half-and-half mixture of lemon juice and water for five minutes before putting it on the drying rack.

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Cut pieces evenly

To ensure that your fruits, vegetables or meats all dry evenly make sure that you cut each piece the same size. This will ensure that whatever you are drying will be done all at the same time. The best way to get consistent slices is by using a food mandoline.

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Cut the fat

Very lean slices of meat are best for making jerky. Fat can go rancid, so always choose lean cuts and trim any excess fat from meat before dehydrating.

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​Don’t cross-contaminate

Dehydrating meat with other food products can cause cross-contamination. Dry them separately and be sure to wash your dehydrator thoroughly after drying meat.

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​Contain the drain

Fruit leather can be a messy project if your dehydrator has grated trays, like this Excalibur 9-Tray Digital Controller Food Dehydrator has. A disposable option is lining your trays with wax paper. If you want a more permanent solution, invest in fruit leather trays for the best results and easy cleanup.

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​Steam it up

Dried veggies are great, but make sure to steam any low-acid vegetables like snow peas or carrots for 10 minutes. Pat them dry with a clean towel before you put them in the dehydrator for the best results.

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​Not all froods get crispy

Crispiness depends on what type of food you are dehydrating and how thick you slice it. Thinner slices are more likely to become a chip, while thicker slices become leather or chewier pieces.

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​Sticky is icky

If the food is still sticky or moist, then it's not done dehydrating. Food should be completely dry before storing it in an air-tight container to avoid mold.

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