The dehydrator that didn’t cost me a fortune

When I first started my whole-foodie journey, the discovery of activated nuts changed my life. I used to love munching on almonds, but they never really agreed with me, until I found activated varieties and my relationship with the humble nut family changed for the better. 

WHAT ARE ACTIVATED NUTS?

Nuts are high in protein, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and the all important omega 3’s. They make the perfect snack on the go however, many people are unaware of the fact that raw nuts contain “anti-nutrients” or ‘enzyme inhibitors’, that can cause major digestive discomfort and prevent our bodies from absorbing all that goodness they have to offer. 

To overcome this problem, we activated nuts and break down these ‘walls’ to enable better digestion of this wonderfully nutritious food source. For a step by step guide on how to activate your nuts, click here. 

BUT WHO HAS THE TIME TO DRY THEM IN THE OVEN?

Activating nuts were one of my non-negotiables, but to be honest, drying them in the oven for 12-24 hours on the lowest temperature wasn’t something I was thrilled about (nor did I have the time to do it). To overcome this problem, I used to spend a small fortune purchasing activated varieties from the health food store.

For those of you who have purchased activated nuts, you will know that they aren’t cheap. A 400g packet of activated almonds can set you back approximately $20 (that’s $50kg!). But at this point in time, I had no choice, so I sucked it up. This system worked well until I moved in with my partner. Being an elite athlete, it’s fair to say that he is an eating machine and there was no way I could have continued down this path – he was going to send us broke on the consumption of activated nuts alone. I knew I had to find another solution. I started to do some research on dehydrators. 

BUT AREN’T DEHYDRATORS EXPENSIVE?

When it comes to purchasing a dehydrator, the most recommended variety can set you back anywhere between $400-$900. Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s enough to make me use my oven! So, I set out to do some research. 

When it comes to which dehydrator is going to work well for you, many people told me that I needed to answer the following questions: 

  • What foods are you interested in drying?
  • How much product do you want to dry and how frequently will you use the dehydrator?
  • What is your price range?
  • How much counter space can you devote to the unit?
  • How versatile do your drying specifications need to be? 

My answer to the above questions were really quite simple:

  • Because I don’t really enjoy dehydrated food (it just doesn’t agree with me), I would only be using the dehydrator to activate nuts.
  • Because I would activate bulk nuts at a time, I would only be using a dehydrator around once a month.
  • I didn’t want to spend a fortune (I had my Thermomix to save for)
  • I didn’t want a huge item on my bench-top 
  • As long as my dehydrator trays would hold nuts without them slipping through the cracks, I would be happy. 

I spoke to friends, relatives and the like and they all came back telling me that the Excalibur range of dehydrators were the best, but of course they were the most expensive (some are known to set you back $600+!). 

A friend suggested I check eBay for some second-hand gems. It was here I unexpectedly found my brand spanking new dehydrator for a mere $45. I was a little reluctant to share this information with my readers (way back then), as I thought my find was a little too good to be true, but alas, 1 year on, he is still going strong. 

MY BABY

These are the things you need to know about my find. 

  1. I purchased the ‘Maxkon Food Dehydrator with Adjustable Trays’. You can buy it on Amazon. 
  2. There is no timer, I just use an old fashioned clock or reminder on my phone to time the process. 
  3. It’s temperature ranges from 35-75 degrees Celsius 
  4. It uses a vertical flow heating system which means the heat rises from the bottom up. According to reviews, those dehydrators that use a vertical flow system can transfer the taste of your various products between trays, since the heated air passes directly between layers. Again, I’m just using this to activate nuts so it isn’t a problem. In addition, reviews of various dehydrators also state that the models that use the horizontal heat distribution method are meant to be the best for even distribution of heated air across foods, again, I haven’t noticed. 
  5. My dehydrator is 34cm tall by 25cm in diameter and sits perfectly on the laundry bench. 
  6. If you were going to dehydrate anything smaller like seeds or fruit puree, you would need to chase down some of the fruit drying sheets. 
  7. I can’t remember if the trays are dishwasher safe or not, but they are easily cleaned in some warm soapy water. 

Now I know there are going to be a whole host of better brands out there and I am sure there will be plenty of other features other brands offer when compared to my inexpensive find however, this blog post wasn’t designed to sell you a top of the range dehydrator, it was designed purely to let you know a dehydrator for activating nuts doesn’t have to be expensive 🙂 and no… for those of you wondering, I am not receiving any kick-back for sharing this information. 

STILL NOT SOLD? If you want to meet middle of the road (somewhere between Excalibur and my Maxkon) one of the other best selling brands is called Nesco and they retail for about $79+. It is much easier to obtain the fruit drying sheets for this brand. You can also find this on amazon. 

Do you have a dehydrator? Which one did you choose? What do you recommend? I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!