Nowadays, an air fryer is not limited to only air frying. This little kitchen appliance can perform multiple cooking functions such as food dehydration, toasting, grilling, baking, broiling, and so on. Therefore, when we decide to choose a suitable air fryer, we prefer it with a multi-cooking function. In this article, I will discuss the qualities of an air fryer that can be used as a dehydrator. After the read, you will understand what the required parameters that you require in your air fryer to dehydrate any specific food.
Fruits and vegetables are foods that are full of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, when we dehydrate these, we should protect these nutrition contents. The maximum temperature that fruits and vegetables can withstand is 130°F to 140°F without deforming the vitamins. Therefore, if you can lower the temperature of your air fryer to 130°F, then you can dehydrate all kinds of fruits and vegetables.
Meats and fish are the foods that you can dehydrate at the highest temperature. The required temperature for drying up these foods is around 160°F to 170°F. I think almost all kinds of air fryers can generate this temperature.
Nuts and seeds are full of oil. Excessive heat can destroy the quality of the oil and make these rancid. Therefore, the required temperature to dehydrate these kinds of food is 90°F to 100°F. Reaching this level of temperature is not possible with an ordinary basic air fryer.
Herbs and flowers are full of aromatic oil. Therefore, these are very sensitive to temperature. It requires a temperature of around 90°F to 100°F to dehydrate these foods. There are very few air fryers that can generate this temperature.
Cooking time for dehydration varies for different kinds of foods. Achieving the required temperature is not the only criterion for an air fryer to become capable of food dehydration. Some foods may require few hours to dehydrate and some others may require even a day.
Fruits and vegetables may take 4 to 16 hours in general. For example, coconuts take 3 to 8 hours to get dehydrated where blueberries may take up to 18 hours. Vegetables require comparatively less time than fruits. Broccoli requires 4 to 10 hours to get fully dehydrated where asparagus require 3 to 10 hours.
Meats and fish should be heated at a higher temperature. Therefore, the required time is a few hours. The foods which need a lower temperature to dehydrate, take more time to complete the cooking.
Herbs and flowers have varying requirements when it comes to cooking time. For example, anise leaves require only 1 to 3 hours to get dehydrated where basil leaves require 20 to 24 hours. Chili peppers require 5 to 12 hours to complete the process.
Therefore, for comfortable food dehydration, you need the freedom to set the timer for a longer time. Unfortunately, a basic air fryer with a small basket can set the timer up to 30 minutes only. The majority of the mid-range air fryers have the facility to set the timer for 60 minutes. There are very few air fryers that can allow you to set the timer for more than 1 hour.
Capacity of the basket or food chamber
Temperature and time are not the only requirements for an air fryer to dehydrate food. You need a spacious food basket to accommodate a good amount of sliced food. A multi-functional air fryer may have a higher capacity food chamber. For example, an air fryer with 10 quarts cooking chamber may have multiple layers of racks. Therefore, you can accommodate a good amount of sliced food on it. A conventional small coffeemaker like air fryer may have an oval or squire food basket. These kinds of baskets are not ideal for food dehydration. To maximize the capacity, you may add multi-level racks.
I think now you know what makes a perfect air fryer with food dehydration function. Temperature, time, and volume, all are required qualities if you want to dehydrate food. If it is difficult to find an air fryer that can achieve a wide range of temperature and time, then you can at least choose the best one that is available within your budget and capacity. If you only want to dehydrate meat and fish, you do not need an advanced air fryer. Therefore, be smart and make smart decisions.