To use a dehydrator, place pieces of meat, fruit or vegetables onto the special trays that came with the appliance and then stack the trays into the dehydrator cabinet. Set the dehydrator to the proper heat and time setting depending on what is on the trays. Heating times vary depending on the desired consistency of the dried food. Once the food is as chewy or leathery as desired, remove it from the trays and store it before cleaning the dehydrator.
When dehydrating fruits and vegetables, slice them between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. Place the slices on the trays with a lot of space between them for best results. Many fruits and vegetables require a heat setting between 110 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Rotate the trays during the drying process for an even result.
To dehydrate meat, or turn it into jerky, first heat, boil or cook the meat to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent salmonella. Cut or slice the meat, and place it on the trays with room between each piece. The recommended temperature for drying meat is between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. One pound of meat dehydrates into 1/4 pound of jerky. Homemade jerky has a shelf life between one and two months.