The Snackmaster Food Dehydrator is a really good food dehydrator for the money. Priced at about $50, it is available through many online stores that sell food dehydrators, and also at several large discount department stores that carry kitchen appliances.
After my failed experiment with the Ronco food dehydrator, I learned all food dehydrators are not created equal. The Ronco made dehydrating foods take so long, it was neither efficient, nor practical and it lacked some basic features that should be considered a must in any decent food dehydrator.
The Nesco American Harvest Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator – FD-60 is durable and efficient. It comes with four trays, however you can order additional trays and expand your unit to up to 12 trays. Be aware though, your counter space will need to accommodate that kind of height, unless you put your Snackmaster on a free standing table when you dehydrate food. The Snackmaster has an adjustable thermostat so you can control the temperature and pace of your food dehydration. It has a top mounted fan. It may not be the most ideal fan, however it is a powerful fan and the airflow works. This food dehydrator has a patented Converga-Flow drying system, so the air is forced down to get through to all the trays and reach all the foods being dried. The hot air is forced horizontally, so even though it is a top mounted fan, you are getting an extremely effective airflow across all your fruits and vegetables.
The Snackmaster food dehydrator allows food to be dehydrated in a matter of hours, not days. Because the temperature can be adjusted between 95 and 155 degrees, you are flexible to use high speed drying at the onset of the food dehydration process and lower the temperature towards the end to extract any remaining moisture. Also, the exterior of this unit is designed to block out light which could be harmful to the nutrient content of drying foods. Light promotes the destruction of nutrients, and you want to preserve as much nutrients as possible in the fresh foods you are drying. The Ronco food dehydrator I previously owned was almost see through plastic, even though it was a colored plastic. I understand now why that too was not good. Also, the Snackmaster Express doesn’t require rotating of trays and the flavors of different foods do not mix, which is a good feature.
You can literally save hundreds of dollars each year on groceries by using the Nesco American Harvest Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator. If you buy seasonal produce in bulk, or just your normal quantity of produce, you can prevent food wastage by dehydrating your excess produce to save for cooking and eating later on in the month or year. I have not tried making jerky, but this unit also makes beef and turkey jerky as well. Think of all those turkey leftovers at Thanksgiving and holiday time that could be transformed into tasty jerky, seasoned how you like it! If you have a summer garden, it is often difficult to keep up with eating all those tomatoes and zucchini and other vegetables that all seem to spring forth at once. You can preserve the intense garden flavor of your home grown produce by using this Snackmaster Food Dehydrator. Tomatoes from the grocery store are often tasteless, so why settle for that when you can rehydrate your own dehydrated garden tomatoes in the winter for superior and intense flavor.
Because American Harvest Snackmaster Food Dehydrator works so fast, the fruits and vegetables retain much of its original color and don’t look so faded. This leads me to believe that the maximum amount of nutrients is retained in the dehydrating process. This unit can also be used for drying flowers and herbs. This Snackmaster Food Dehydrator comes with easy to follow instructions and also a booklet of recipes. It also comes with a fruit roll up attachment. I never tried using the attachment because I prefer the dried fruits in slices and bits. But, if you like fruit roll ups, you can make those as well. It’s not too loud either.
The clean up is fairly easy and the unit is lightweight but it is sturdy as well. I really enjoy dehydrated fruits and vegetables to store in airtight containers and use them frequently to add to cooking on an almost daily basis. It was a lot of fun experimenting with various fruits and veggie produce and especially fun making trail mixes. Whenever I have out of town visitors I like to send them on their way with trail mix for the airplane ride. The Snackmaster Food Dehydrator is well worth the money and it is not a major investment, but the return is awesome. It has not only made up for its price in the savings from buying prepackaged dried foods, but it has saved money from having to throw out unused produce. Additionally, it has been educational learning about the various properties of fruits and vegetables and discovering which ones have higher water content. It has inspired many new recipes and yielded an abundance of variety when cooking soups. The only thing I wasn’t thrilled about was that there is no on and off switch control, so it either has to be plugged in or not plugged in. There are other food dehydrators on the market that cost more, but I am pleased with all this machine can do and how it works.
I would recommend going to your local library and checking out some books on food dehydration, because there is a wealth of information and insight on maximizing the food dehydration experience and getting the most fun and bang for your buck in the process. Also, before making any kind of meat jerky, it is good to educate yourself on what safety precautions are necessary. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables put control in your hands by not having to buy consumer packaged items that are loaded with chemicals and preservatives. The Snackmaster Food Dehydrator would make an excellent gift for someone on a special diet who likes to take charge of their kitchen. It would also be great for vegetarians and vegans. Children can also have fun learning about the process of food dehydration and get the opportunity to create their own snacks.