Helpful tips when using a dehydrator

Have you been having trouble drying your iced biscuits in a dehydrator?  I have had a few ladies who have been asking for help, so I thought I would write a post on my experiences using the Smartlife Food Dehydrator.

Wherever you live, your iced biscuits will dry differently due to the region’s climate.  Some parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal have very humid summers, which makes drying times slightly longer. In other parts of South Africa, you may experience a drier climate, which makes drying times shorter. You will have to adjust the drying times of your iced biscuits accordingly too.
A word of warning… icing does not like high tempertures when drying.  This causes all sorts of problems, icing will either not set (get hard) or will turn a horrible yellow. (butter bleed)

I dry my iced biscuits in a food dehydrator.
You get different types of dehydrators, some more expensive than others. The better quality dehydrators are R3500 on Yuppiechef, they’ll dry your biscuits beautifully with no hassles.  If I was doing biscuits to order I would definitely invest in one of these. You’ll get less grey hairs using one of these.
If your biscuit decorating is a hobby, you don’t really want to spend that much money on a food dehydrator.  I recommend the Clicks Smartlife dehydrator (About R599) it’s not the fanciest dehydrator out there but it does the job. The dehydrator’s we use at The Biscuit Studio are the OLD Kambrook model, they’re larger and do not get as HOT as the one pictured above. There are a few things you must keep in mind when using this dehydrator.

  • It doesn’t have a timer.
  • When you first use the dehydrator, it does give off a bit off a plastic burning smell, the smell wears off quite quickly. Turn it on without biscuits in it and let that smell ‘burn off’
  • It can get quite hot as it doesn’t have a temperature regulator, rotate your trays. The bottom tray gets the hottest.
  • Leave the lid off when drying the icing at all times and keep a close eye on your biscuits.
  • On hot days, have a fan blowing on your Clicks dehydrator to prevent it from getting too hot.

I’ve been very happy with this dehydrator and still get fantastic results using it. I have listed what I do when drying my iced biscuits. Here are a few tips for the best results when using it.

  • I rotate the trays up & down during the drying time, number your trays so you know which tray you had the first batch of biscuits on. It can take up to an hour or so to finish all your biscuits, so you’ll have to take note of the different times that your biscuits go into the dehydrator.
  • I also periodically turn my dehydrator off for about 10-15min, just to bring the temperature down a bit, or I leave the lid off while the iced biscuits dry.
  • If you over dry your biscuits you will get what’s called a butter bleed. This is very noticeable with lighter icing.  A butter bleed is when the icing has over dried, the heat starts to draw on the moisture (butter) in the biscuit, bringing it up to the surface of the biscuit and into your icing. Your icing will have patches or be discoloured.  The drying time of your biscuit is important to get right.
  • Be aware that when you take your partly finished biscuit out to add more icing or detail, the biscuit will still be warm, let it cool slightly before continuing with your icing as I have found that the icing tends to crust over quickly due to the heat from the biscuit.
  • This dehydrator gets VERY HOT, and as I said earlier iced biscuits do not like it too hot.

Here is a rough guide line of time needed in the dehydrator.
A small iced biscuit takes about 1.5 hours to dry. (Small heart, emoji biscuit)
A medium iced biscuit takes about 2 – 2.5 hours to dry. (Balloon biscuit)
A large iced biscuit takes about 2.5 – 3 hours to dry.  (Plaque B Shape biscuit)
TAKE NOTE: I have the old discontinued Clicks Smartlife dehydrator.  I have not used the new Smartlife dehydrator. Please check when buying any dehydrator that the shelves have enough space between them, so they don’t sit directly on your iced biscuit.

If anyone has any further tips or experiences with their dehydrator please feel free to share in the comment section below.
Happy baking & biscuit making