TEMP. RANGE (°F)
– Versatile Trays
– Improved Controls
– Simple to Clean
– Uneven Heat Distribution
– Noisy Fan
– Lower Actual Temperature
In a market saturated with kitchen appliances, it’s always hard to find something worthwhile. Most people want as many features as possible in an affordable piece of equipment. When it comes to food dehydrators, the situation is no different. There are many models to choose from, and not a lot of information out there for the cheaper ones.
To help everyone who wants to try out this way of preserving produce, we’ve reviewed the Hamilton Beach 32100A. With an entry level price-tag, it offers a good set of features. But how does it perform? Read on to find out more.
TEMPERATURE RANGE: 100 – 160°F
AIR FLOW: Vertical
THERMOSTAT: Adjustable, 5-degree increments
TIMER: Yes, up to 48 hours
AUTOMATIC SHUT-OFF: Yes
ON/OFF SWITCH: Yes, with Start/Pause
NUMBER OF TRAYS: 5
MATERIAL: Metal (base), plastic (Trays)
WEIGHT: 8 lbs.
WARRANTY: 2 years
DIMENSIONS: 5.86 x 11.25 x 12.75″
This vertical food dehydrator has five stackable trays made out of food-safe plastic. They can accommodate all sorts of vegetables, fruits, and meats. Versatility is further improved with the addition of a fine mesh sheet and a solid sheet. These add-ons can handle small foods, various herbs, and fruit rolls without anything falling through. Finally, the lid that goes on top is transparent so you can check progress, at least in the top row.
The Hamilton Beach 32100A incorporates a fan into its design which pushes hot air up through the trays. This improves drying time and helps keep the temperature even throughout the device. The cover also includes a ventilation mesh. The openings on top let moisture escape while preventing condensation from causing problems.
Adjustable Digital Thermostat
Unlike other units in this price-range, this model gives you more control over the drying process. You can set the temperature through a digital panel from 100 to 160°F, in steps of 5 degrees. This makes fine tuning possible and provides better results. Moreover, users can pause each batch if they need to switch trays.
Digital Timer & Auto Shutoff
Food dehydrators can run for hours and hours. With this timer and shutoff feature, you can almost set and forget this unit without fear of ruining your batch or the machine itself. The time limit is 48 hours, which is more than enough for any drying you’re going to do at home.
Easy to Clean
With the use of high-grade plastics, you don’t have to clean the trays by hand. After you have completed a batch food, pop them into the dishwasher and enjoy your fresh snacks.
Hamilton Beach 32100A
Things We Liked
We tried out the Hamilton Beach 32100A, and we can say it has a few advantages other over models with a similar price-tag. Here are the things that we liked:
Since this unit is priced to attracts beginners among other people, it’s great that it comes with a variety of trays. Besides the standard ones that are good for most produce, you get a few extras. Namely, the fine-mesh sheet and solid sheet. This way you can use jams or purees to make leather rolls from almost anything. What’s more, you’ll be able to dry nuts, seeds, and herbs without anything falling through.
This is what we want to see from more manufacturers. Adding a digital panel with auto shutoff doesn’t cost much, but makes people so much happier. We were able to set a countdown timer, adjust the temperature and pause the whole process. For the money, you can’t beat this food dehydrator when it comes to these added options.
Simple to Clean
Another thing that is quick and straightforward with this model is clean-up. Except for very hard stains and pre-soaking, you can pop the trays into a dishwasher and be done with them.
Things We Didn’t Like
The Hamilton Beach 32100A has a lot of things going for it, but it also has a few downsides. Here’s what we didn’t find to our liking:
Uneven Heat Distribution
This is in part due to the vertical flow design. Most food dehydrators of this type have some issues when it comes to heating and drying. Because of this we had to check on our batches from time to time and recommend you do the same. Taking a look once an hour or once every two hours should be enough.
We noticed that the integrated fan could get loud from time to time, especially with long drying times. If noise is a concern, you could place this unit in a secluded area, as long as there is enough room for it to operate.
Lower Actual Temperature
Even though the digital panel is a great addition, we wanted to check whether this unit does what it says. We used a separate thermostat and found that this food dehydrator gives a somewhat lower temperature, about 5°F to be precise. To put things in perspective, most models have the same issue.
Some users also mention noticing a plastic smell while working with this unit, which we didn’t experience. But, before we started using this food dehydrator, we made sure to wash all the trays and wipe the inside of the base.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the height of each tray?
The top tray is almost two inches because of the lid, while the rest are a bit over one inch.
2. Does this unit use a lot of power?
Even daily doesn’t add up to a significant cost when it comes to your electricity bill.
3. How much beef jerky can I fit into this food dehydrator?
It should take at least 3 pounds of meat, whether it is in strips or ground beef. Some users report being able to dry up to 6 lbs or meat.
4. Are the included trays dishwasher safe?
Yes, you can machine wash them without damaging anything.
With five trays and two different sheets, this food dehydrator is quite versatile. Additionally, the added convenience of a digital panel is a big plus for this model. You get a timer, adjustable thermostat and an automatic shutoff feature, which is great for such a cheap unit. Finally, the drying process requires more involvement from the users because of the limited airflow. All in all, the Hamilton Beach 32100A is good for beginners and less demanding tasks.
However, if you want to dry large amounts of food often, you ought to increase your budget and buy a better-made model. That way, you will have a more reliable unit and more consistent results from one batch to the next.