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Message from Nathan Zassman on Dehydrators:
A dehydrator uses low temperature circulated warm air to dry fruits and vegetables, and can be used to make fruit leather, jerky, and crackers. If you use sprouted grains and a dehydrator, you can make snacks with live enzymes (temperatures below 105 degrees do not kill the enzymes in foods) by combining sprouted grains and fruits and drying in the dehydrator. A recent study found that eating between one and two apples a day as dehydrated apple chips lowered LDL cholesterol by 23% in six months. Very few supplements or drugs are this effective.
Excalibur is rated as the best dehydrator. Aviva carries a 5 tray professional model with a large footprint (15" square area per tray).
Food Dehydration - Simple and Nutritious Food Preservation
Food dehydration, or food drying, is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. It is an attractive alternative to canning and freezing for those with limited space for storing canning equipment or frozen foods. The process is simple and safe, and can be used to preserve a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and meats.
Food dehydration works by removing the water from food, which prevent spoilage and the growth of bacteria. Drying can be performed by several methods using evaporation, such as air-drying, sun drying, wind drying, and smoking. Freeze- drying is another method of food dehydration that involves freezing the food first, and then removing the water by sublimation.
In addition to requiring less space for storage, dehydrating foods offers a number of other benefits over other methods of food preservation. Dehydration is easy-to- learn, and provides a low-cost way to preserve food that is free of bacteria and the risk of botulism. Bacteria and other microorganisms need water in order to grow. Drying effectively prevents the multiplication of bacteria and the associated health risks. Additionally, moisture removal from food results in an increased concentration of important nutrients that are essential to good health.
The amount of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates found in dried foods is larger - per unit weight - than the amount found in fresh or frozen foods. However, the value of dried protein is highly dependent on the method of drying used. Prolonged exposure to very high temperatures can render the protein in dried foods less effective, while low-temperature drying methods may actually result in an increased digestibility of protein. Certain vitamins may also be lost during the dehydration process, including vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine.
Dehydrated foods are also useful on extended trips, and can save you time in the kitchen. Dried fruits and vegetables are a great snack for children, and are perfect for packing in lunchboxes or backpacks, as they require no refrigeration and take up very little space.
Although food dehydration is a simple process, it does require some knowledge and time. To effectively take advantage of all of the benefits that food drying offers, you will need to determine how much time you are willing to invest, and then select the drying method and equipment that is the most simple and convenient for you.
If you do not intend to do a lot of drying, you can simply place some sliced food on a rack in the sun. The sun's heat and the warm air will pull the moisture out of the food over time. To protect your food items from insects, and to speed up the drying process, you can place your food into a solar food dryer. Solar dryers protect the food while focusing the sun's heat directly where it needs to be.
Food dehydration can also be performed on wire racks inside your oven, but this often results in reduced flavour. The most effective and easiest means of drying food, especially for those interested in bulk dehydration, is the use of an electric food dehydrator. Food dehydrators are designed to provide the proper amount of heat and air movement, and come with stackable trays for use when drying larger quantities of food simultaneously.
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