Last Updated Jan 2020 – Magic Mill food dehydrators are wonderful appliances that will open the door to a multitude of new culinary adventures. Although food dehydrators are sometimes passed over as a gimmicky toy (the kind you use once, put in the closet, and never use again), food dehydrators are incredibly useful for anyone.
At its core, the food dehydrator is a food preservation instrument. For thousands of years, mankind has been preserving meat and vegetables by packing them in salt. The basic idea behind this method is that the salt absorbs the liquid from the food preventing mold and bacteria from growing. However, there is a lot of room for error in this time-honored tradition.
Of course, there are other methods of food preservation. Canning is one popular method that involves sterilizing jars, packing the jars with food and liquid, and sealing them for later use. While this kind of preservation is in fact very effective, it can be time consuming and dangerous.
Most canning enthusiasts have that one story to share about the time everything went wrong. Many times, it revolves around a lid that wasn’t properly cleaned. The jars were sealed and later that year, they opened up the jar to find a tiny biosphere of green and black mold feasting on the fruits of their labor.
And it can get much worse!
One highly recommended tool in the world of canning is the pressure cooker. Pressure cookers are extremely effective for sanitizing jars and creating tight seals. However, the very nature of a pressure cooker is extremely dangerous. When scalding hot water is put under high pressure, one false move can lead to a trip to the emergency room!
Food dehydrators, on the other hand, are safe and user-friendly. There is no extreme heat (in fact there is little to no heat at all!) and very little room for error. Safety aside, food dehydrators are an incredibly healthy and convenient way to save and store food.
As to the idea of these appliances being a gimmick, consider all of the scenarios you may find a dehydrator useful:
My wife is an avid gardener. Every year, we pull fresh lettuce, tomatoes, kale, and more from the garden and prepare deliciously healthy meals for the family. However, when the end of summer approaches, we always find ourselves with way too much food.
We try giving it away to friends, hosting potluck dinner parties, and stocking the freezer, but there’s always too much food. Before long, our fresh peppers are going into the compost pile.
When we finally made the decision to purchase a food dehydrator, we were skeptical. But when harvest time came, we got to work (well, actually the dehydrator got to work!). Before we knew it, we had a pantry full of ingredients for soups, casseroles, and salads. We made prepackaged mirepoix bags, trail mix for hiking and camping, and sweet fruit snacks to pack in the kids’ lunchboxes.
After the first year, we started dehydrating everything. Our soups were enriched with dried mushrooms, our road trips featured delicacies like homemade beef jerky, raisins, and banana chips, and our freezer was wide open!
A Quick Look at Magic Mill’s Professional Food Dehydrators
This dehydrator features a five tray system that allows you to dry large amounts of food at once. The trays are even designed to allow you to dry different foods at the same time.
Coinciding with this feature is the digital temperature settings and auto shut off feature. When you combine all three of these features, you have a variety of perfectly dried food in one cycle!
Features: Adjustable digital temperature settings, five dehydrating tray system, auto shut off safety system, BPA free, bottom mounted fan, 1-year warranty
Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Pros: This dehydrator came with high marks especially for its easy to use digital display system and the fact that it is easy to clean. When you consider the fact that you are extracting liquid from meat, fruit, and vegetables, an easy to clean dehydrator is crucial!
Cons: There are very few negative reviews on this product. However, a few people thought the machine was too loud and a handful of people thought the plastic trays were too fragile. Only a handful of reviewers commented on the fan or heating element in a negative way and those cases were a case of a faulty machine.
Overall, this model seems to be a fantastic product.
While there were slight concerns about noise and quality, most people had wonderful experiences. The bottom mounted fan provides constant airflow to ensure even drying for any foods.
This Magic Mill Food Dehydrator with Five Tray Drying System is ideal for beginners and experts alike and will create perfectly dried jerky, fruit, dry soup mixes, and even per food!
With room to dehydrate up to 6 lbs of food, this Magic Mill Professional Food Dehydrator can feed a small army. The 400W fan with airflow technology ensures even drying while preventing over heating.
The digital timer features an auto-shut off so you can leave the dehydrator unattended or even run it overnight. The thermostat offers 9 incremental settings that range from 95 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
Features: 400W rear mounted drying fan with airflow technology, digital timer, digital thermostat, 1-year warranty, 6 food drying racks with stainless steel, drip tray, see-through cover lid, 1 set of silicone oven mitts.
Reviews: 4.5 out of 5
Pros: An abundance of glowing reviews on this model pointed out the overall performance. Many users found the temperature adjustments helpful as well as the timer and auto-shut off. Other reviewers commented on the durability and quality construction of the dehydrator as well as the ease of use.
Cons: There were not many negative reviews; However, some reported that the see-through cover lid either came cracked in the package or cracked shortly after. There were also some complaints that the temperature settings go up in increments instead of individual units making it impossible to follow recipes that require a temperature not available on the dehydrator.
The Magic Mill Professional Food Dehydrator is an excellent addition to any kitchen. The six-tray system is large enough to provide for a family of four, but not so large that it takes over your counter.
The drip tray catches run-off from dehydrating food and is easily removed for cleaning. In fact, the entire dehydrator is very easy to clean and use making this low-maintenance model an ideal choice for people on the go.
With 9 trays and 600 watts of power, this food dehydrator model is a step up from the 6 tray model.
Still capable of drying foods overnight because of the digital timer, this model offers much more space than the 6 tray model allowing for a larger output of food in the same amount of time. Serious gourmands and backpackers alike will love this model for all of their culinary and nutrient requirements.
Features: 600W rear mounted fan with air flow circulation technology, digital timer with auto shut off, incremental 9 setting digital thermostat with a range from 95-158 degrees Fahrenheit, see through door, capable of drying up to 9 lbs of food at once, 2 fruit leather trays, 1 jerky hanging rack, 1 fine mesh sheet, 1 set silicone oven mitts, 1-year warranty.
Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Pros: Many reviews commented on the high quality of performance and it’s durability. The machine is quiet but powerful with one reviewer stating he dried herbs in less than 3 hours. This model is easy to clean bexause there is no plastic and the trays are removable.
Cons: A couple of complaints were made that the front cover was cracked upon delivery or shortly afterward. A handful of reviews commented on long drying times.
This model is perfect for a large family or active dehydrator. If you are a hunter, forager, or gardener this model would be an ideal choice. While it is not the top of the line product from Magic Mill, it received high marks on its performance, drying space, and digital controls.
Features: 1000W rear-mounted fan and air flow circulation technology, digital 24-hour timer with auto shut off, digital thermostat with 9 incremental settings ranging from 95-158 degrees Fahrenheit, see-through front door, 10 stainless steel trays, capable of drying up to 13 lbs of food at once, overheating safety protection, 10 fine mesh sheets, 5 non-stick fruit leather sheets, 1 set of silicone oven mitts, 1-year warranty.
Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Pros: The airflow circulation technology creates even drying across all trays, so there is no need to rotate trays during operation. Combine that with the auto shut off digital timer and you can leave this dehydrator running for hours unattended. The 1000 Watt fan is the most powerful in the Magic Mill collection and the large drying space provides a larger output.
Cons: While there were a few complaints about this model, they were mostly isolated incidents involving a faulty machine. Overall, the most common complaint was the size of the Magic Mill Commercial Pro XL.
While this Magic Mill Commercial Pro XL is fully equipped to handle the needs of a large commercial kitchen, it is also an ideal model for the home. The high-quality construction and power of this dehydrator deliver the most bang for the buck in the Magic Mill line.
For anyone looking to get serious about dehydration, this model is perfect for virtually any project from making jerky and drying hops to raising dough and making potpourri.
Meat Dehydrator vs. Fruit Dehydrator
After conducting our research, we came to the conclusion that the most important factor in choosing a new food dehydrator is what you’re using it for. Common sense, right? But, if you’re only using your dehydrator for fruit, there are a few features you simply won’t want or need that will be absolutely imperative to someone making jerky.
- Meat Dehydrators – The USDA requires meat to be heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered “safe to eat”. Many dehydrators simply can’t reach that temperature, even some of the models that say they can! A high temperature range on the thermostat and a timer with a long duration are key features for any jerky enthusiasts.
- Fruit Dehydrators – The process of dehydrating fruits (and vegetables) is all about air flow and low heat. Of course, there are some exceptions, but generally speaking heat can cause problems in the process.
When vegetables and fruit reach high temperatures, the final results are often crisp outsides with soft insides. The heat has created an impenetrable wall on the outside of the fruit slice trapping moisture inside and promoting mold and spoilage.
The Magic Mill line of food dehydrators provides a unique and effective design. The rear mounted fan and heating element is a fantastic way to prolong the life of the machine as the drippings are not falling on crucial components. The wire rack system allows air to flow unobstructed around the ingredients and, afterward, makes for an easy cleanup.
Whether you’re a wild-eyed young foodie waiting to experiment or a seasoned veteran looking for quality and control, there is an option for both and all stages in between. Creating materials to stock your pantries or ingredients to feed the masses are both achievable with any of these machines, although some are obviously more suited to one or the other.
These dehydrators are valuable to more than just health-minded parents, hikers, chefs. Dehydrators are fantastic for bakers as they are a wonderful way to raise dough safely and effectively. Crackers and dried delicacies are made with little effort.
Homebrewing enthusiasts will also find the Magic Mill food dehydrators valuable as they do a wonderful job drying hops and barley (not to mention herbs and grains for flavor). And hunters and foragers can preserve their catches and keep them for months.
The very practice of dehydrating food pays for itself in a short amount of time.
Preserving food not only opens space in the refrigerator and freezer, but it also extends the shelf life of fresh, nutritious food. Equally important, is the environmental impact that preserving your own food makes. Dehydrating and storing food in reusable containers cuts down on the plastic from store-bought products.
Dehydrators are also beneficial to your health. While they obviously promote a healthy diet because they prepare fruits, vegetables, and meats without cooking in grease, they also eliminate chemicals found in prepackaged foods found in the grocery store. Dehydrating your own food means knowing exactly what is going into your body.
Across the board, these Magic Mill dehydrators received excellent reviews from a large base of consumers. Combine that with the versatility and options in size and these countertop food dehydrators are a great addition to any kitchen.