L'Equip's 528 Dehydrator helps preserve the nutrients that stay in your dried fruits, vegetables and meats with its light-blocking plastic walls, and it offers expandable trays and detailed temperature control. You get more drying space in this dehydrator than many others name-brand dehydrators, although you'll need to work with it to get optimal drying times.
During our testing, we dehydrated trays of banana slices and found that even after 12 hours of drying at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the slices were still a bit moist. After we let them air dry for a few hours, they became fully dehydrated. The instruction manual for the L'Equip states that it is "impossible to give exact drying times" since the moisture content of foods will depend on many conditions, including where it was grown, the weather, soil conditions, the thickness of slices and more. Clearly, the estimated time given in the manual of 6-12 hours didn't work well for our bananas and our slices needed more time in the dehydrator.
Nearly all brand-name food dehydrators say in their user manuals that it is difficult to get timing down precisely because so many variables are involved in drying foods. However, given our experience during testing, the L'Equip appears to need more experimentation to find what works best with the foods you're planning to preserve.
The gray L'Equip 528 Dehydrator includes six full-size trays, six mesh screens and two fruit leather trays. This stacking unit is expandable up to 12 trays, which lets you preserve an enormous amount of food at the same time. You can buy the extra trays in sets of two, and despite the extra height, these can stack securely. Each tray has 1.2 feet of drying space, so with the six included trays, you can use 7.2 square feet of drying space. If you buy the six extra trays, that offers 14.4 square feet of drying space – which is a considerable amount. The exterior of this model is a light-blocking white or gray plastic, which helps protect nutrients and vitamins during the drying process. All of the great features come at a cost, though. If you need something more budget-friendly, consider the Presto Dehydro.
L'Equip's 528 Dehydrator contains a heat sensor and a temperature control element. The 500 watts of drying power combined with accurate temperature control give you exact results for your dried food. The 528 has an adjustable thermostat that dries food from the range of 93 degrees to 153 degrees Fahrenheit.
The fan and heating element are located in the base of the unit. Heated air is circulated through the trays using a special channel at the center. This design promotes even airflow to all trays so there is no need to rotate trays during the drying process, which is a real boon for busy people who don't want to interrupt other tasks to attend to dehydrator racks. The rectangular shape of this device is also welcome since so many are circular. It's generally easier to store a rectangular kitchen appliance in a cupboard or pantry than one that is round, so you can save space with the L'Equip.
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While its main function is drying veggies, fruits and meats, you can also use the L'Equip 528 Dehydrator to make yogurt. For this process, you need to prepare yogurt, put the liquid into cups of your own and place them in the dehydrator for four to six hours.
The expandable trays and even heating make this unit simple to use, although you'll need to practice with it to determine the best drying times for the types of food you're dehydrating.