How to Dehydrate Food with an Air Fryer
Maybe you have used your air fryer to roast, bake, grill, broil, and yes, air fry. But did you know that it can even do more? With the right approach and the right type of air fryer, you can also start dehydrating food.
Before you start tossing food into your appliance and hoping for perfection, read over this list of what you need to know about how to dehydrate food in an air fryer and why you might want to give this a shot.
Why Dehydrate Your Food?
There are a lot of good reasons to dehydrate your food. First and foremost, dehydrating food is a great way to preserve it. When you remove the moisture from your food, it prevents bacteria growth and increases the food’s shelf life. Usually it is the water in a food product that holds harmful bacteria. The bacteria in that water is what makes the food go bad.
People on raw food and healthy diets also prefer to dehydrate their food. When you dehydrate an item at a low temperature, it will keep many of its healthy enzymes, which are good for the digestive system and general health.
Finally, dehydrating food will reduce its weight. If you need to store a lot of food or travel with it. it makes a lot of sense to dehydrate it. This will give you more food in less space and weight.
What is an Air Fryer?
Air fryers are popular appliances for preparing foods in a variety of ways. They are countertop appliances. They are compact when compared to built-in ovens or microwaves.
An air fryer works similar to a convection oven by circulating air and distributing it throughout the food evenly. They were initially used to make things like homemade potato chips, fried meats, and vegetables. It turns out that Air Fryers are incredibly versatile appliances that can bake, broil, roast, and dehydrate your food – if you know how to use them properly.
What is a Food Dehydrator?
A food dehydrator is a small appliance that is made solely for dehydrating food. It circulates warm air and slowly removes moisture from food. Depending on what type of food you are working with, the dehydration process can take anywhere from a few hours up to 40 or more. But a dehydrator also will not cook or brown your food due to the temperatures being too high.
Depending on how long you leave your food in a dehydrator, your results might vary. For example, you might get fruit or meat that is more or less chewy, or brittle, based on the moisture that remains in the food.
Dehydrators generally have shelves or mesh layers, allowing you to distribute the food evenly. This also permits the air to circulate more freely and evenly within the appliance.
How Air Fryers Differ from Food Dehydrators
Air fryers and dehydrators can both dehydrate your food, but the appliances are not the same. Both use hot or warm air circulating to “heat” food, but the temperature settings are generally different.
An air fryer is known for using incredibly hot temperatures to cook food, and dehydrators use lower temperatures to remove moisture from food over a longer period. This might lead many to believe that an air fryer cannot be used as a dehydrator, but this is not necessarily the case.
Can Your Dehydrate Food in an Air Fryer?
In most cases as long as your air fryer is capable of operating at low temperatures you can use it to dehydrate food. Not sure if yours fits the bill? Here are the factors you need to consider:
1. Can the temperatures go low enough (under 200 degrees F)?
You can use most air fryers to dehydrate food as long as you can lower the temperature to less than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. An ideal temperature would be around 112 degrees for things like fruit and herbs. Drying recipes for meat (beef jerky) usually call for temperatures a bit higher – about 150-200 degrees.
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2. Does it have vents?
Any air fryer you use to dehydrate food should have plenty of vents to allow moist air to escape. Most air fryers have this, but if yours does not, it won’t be a good option for dehydrating.
3. Is there space for drying your food?
Next, there should be enough space for your food to dry out inside the air fryer. Most of these appliances have a basket that you can use for this purpose.
You can also invest in a few wire racks that will fit inside your air fryer or position some skewers across the provided basket. Just make sure you are not blocking the airflow.
4. What does the manufacturer say?
If you are worried about your warranty or have safety concerns, you might want to check with the air fryer’s manufacturer about its capabilities.
Some are not meant to operate for the long period that will be required to dehydrate food. This could put stress on the appliance’s heating element and burn it out.
If your air fryer came with a recipe book that includes dehydrating items, you are probably all set, but even if your air fryer meets all the other criteria listed, it might not be the best choice.
How to Dehydrate Food in an Air Fryer
It’s common sense but follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For a standard air fryer that meets our list of qualifications (above), here are the steps you can take to dehydrate your food:
- Prepare! Slice and then wash your food thoroughly. Pat it dry and then place it inside your air fryer. If you want to avoid browning your apples or bananas, spray them lightly with lemon juice.
- Dehydrate. Set your temperature on the air dryer low – anywhere from 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have your air fryer running too hot, you can cook or burn your food.
- Time. Set your timer for about 15 minutes to start, and then check your food about every five minutes until you get the desired result.
- Record. Once you figure out how long it takes to dehydrate a certain item in your air fryer, write down the time and temperature so that the process will be quicker next time.
- Store. Let your dehydrated food cool thoroughly and then store it in a secure, dry, and dark area so that it will have the longest shelf life possible.
The Best Air Fryers for Dehydrating Food
Instead of getting a standard air fryer and a dehydrator, you might want to get an air fryer that can do both jobs. Two air fryers that are also excellent at dehydrating are:
The Ninja Air Fryer
The Ninja Air Fryer is a popular online product that gets excellent reviews. It is a versatile appliance that is also affordable. In addition to frying your food, it can double as a dehydrator and has a multi-layered rack and wide temperature range that works well for this purpose.
The Power Air Fryer
The Power Air Fryer is slightly more expensive than the Ninja, but it also has a few more functions. Of its seven functions, one is a dehydrator. It also includes three levels of cooking surfaces and is simple to clean.
If you are wondering whether you can dehydrate food in an air fryer, you certainly can. When you use an air fryer with a dehydration setting, this is much simpler, but it is still possible with other models. Follow the steps laid out here on how to dehydrate food with an air fryer, and you will be fixing up batches of dehydrated fruit and meat in no time.