Can I leave a food dehydrator on overnight?

Drying food using a food dehydrator generally takes hours. There are no shortcuts, unfortunately. Certain fruits like apple, cut thinly, may be done and ready in under 6 hours, while berries and apricots require a full day cycle, in which case you may have to leave a food dehydrator on overnight. Factors that impact drying times include the type of dehydrator used, water content, humidity, temperature, and food type. Even if you are able to shave off an hour or two by adjusting various factors, there are still going to be those foods that require an overnight cycle.

Stopping the machine, only to restart it at a later stage, whilst leaving the food inside, is just not good food handling. Uncooked food can quickly attract bacteria, mold, and dust while left standing inside the dehydrator. The best option is to remove the food from inside the machine and store it safely overnight for drying to continue in the morning. If all this sounds too cumbersome, then you can leave your food dehydrator on overnight. Before you leave your dehydrator unattended, make sure you have some safety measures in place for peace of mind.

Safety first when leaving a food dehydrator on overnight.

Leave a food dehydrator unattended when safe to do so.

If all the conditions are right and safety precautions are in place, there is no reason why you cannot leave a food dehydrator on overnight. A good quality dehydrator is made to run for long periods of time. The more pricy Excalibur dehydrator for example states that ‘you can just set it, and forget it.’ This premium brand has a motor-driven timer. The brand further states that if the power should go off and on, the timer keeps track of the actual drying time. As far as leaving the Excalibur machine unattended, its three separate circuits are there to protect it from electrical malfunctions.

Follow this handy safety checklist.

  • Check the electrical guidelines as set out inside the machine’s user manual. Check what it says about the wall outlet and power source. Make sure you have an approved wall outlet. This is because power outlets situated outside the house may have weaker supply capacity which may ultimately injure your unit. Generally it is not advised to use a smart plug, a surge protector, an extention cord or a power strip with your dehydrator unless stated otherwise in the operation manual.
  • Be smart and check for any possible product recall information. Also do some consumer report research before you decide on a specific brand and model.
  • Do not run your dehydrator if you are not at home to check on things.
  • Create a solid and stable surface for your food dehydrator. If you have kids or pets in the house, make sure that the machine is out of harms way.
  • Choose a well ventilated area in the home.
  • As with any electrical appliance, periodically check the condition of the electric cord and plug. Do not use a machine with a frayed electric cord or that shows signs of damage.
  • Remove any objects around the appliance that could catch fire like towels or cloths.
  • If you have a smoke alarm in the house, test that it works, for peace of mind.
  • Choose a dehydrator with a built-in timer setting. This is especially useful when drying for long hours on end.

Last thoughts on leaving a food dehydrator on overnight.

Leaving a food dehydrator overnight can be done safely and effectively if attention is paid to the above-mentioned precautions and conditions. Using a premium food dehydrator with a built-in timer, adjustable thermostat in a good solid shell will give you peace of mind even when very high temperatures are maintained for longer cycles. The initial outlay may be on the steep side, but long term it is so worth it. Reading through the online forums, one quickly realizes which brand of dehydrator affords users complete peace of mind when left unattended. You would be right if you guessed Excalibur. If running your machine indoors overnight makes you unsettled, consider running it outside rather.

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Image credits:

Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

John Cameron on Unsplash

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