Nesco Food Dehydrator
I've been doing product reviews in several places online and in print since I started homeschooling over 25 years ago. Many of the initial products I reviewed were educational electronic toys marketed to the homeschooling community. I really enjoyed getting those items for my children for free too. Businesses liked my reviews and the kinds of things I noticed that others missed, and it just grew. One of my children is getting a free $200 tablet I received for free from the manufacturer for Christmas this year.
I have had the first dehydrator for over 15 years, and the second one is a new addition I purchased in August 2020 when my first failed. Clint was able to fix the first, so now I have two. I use them three to five times a week here lately.
A lot of people think of fruit leather and jerky when they think of a dehydrator. While those are delicious, the uses for a dehydrator go so much further.
For one thing, they are invaluable for preventing food waste. If you have food you know you can't consume before it spoils, you can dry it, package it properly, and then it is preserved for many years. Dehydrated foods can last up to 20-30 years and maybe longer if you have the right packaging. I have never had to throw away anything that was dehydrated.
If you have a food processor or coffee grinder, you can make your own nutritional powders. Herbs can be dried and ground for seasonings and medicine.
Potpourri from fragrant herbs and flowers grown in a home garden is so nice. I use a mix of basil, thyme, rosemary, and lavender in a hot bath for a relaxing aromatic soak. Dried powdered milk and dried lavender is a nice spa like treat too. (I purchase the milk, but it could be dried in a dehydrator.)
I have used my dehydrators to carefully dry seeds for the next year's garden. The trick there is to not let the temperature get over 100 to 110F.
We like to camp and hike, so the dehydrator helps me dry foods and create soup mixes that take up less space, are light to carry, and easy to prepare.
The dehydrator also lets me keep a lot more food on hand because once dehydrated, the foods do not take up as much space. Did you know 100 pounds of dried and powdered onions will fit into a small cannister?
Yogurt, sourdough, kombucha, kefir grains, and other types of cultures can be dehydrated when you need to go on vacation or take a break. Dehydrating will preserve the cultures which can later be activated and used. For those who purchase cultures, this can save a lot of expense.
Sour cream can be dehydrated to use as a thickener and flavoring in soups. I leave it in chip form, but a lot of people powder it.
While I dehydrate a lot of our garden produce, I also dehydrate things I purchase from the store. Frozen mixed vegetables are an easy go to for making soup mixes.
Dog treats are so easy. I peel, slice, and soak sweet potatoes in chicken, turkey, pork, or beef broth overnight and then dehydrate them. Easy and so much cheaper than the store!!
I chose the square Nesco because it is a long standing brand with a solid reputation. I wanted a dehydrator I could add Trays to because of my family size. The stackable style dehydrator allows expansion whereas the kind that has a set number of trays in a box does not.
I live in an area with high humidity, so the metal dehydrators were out of the question due to rusting concerns. I chose the square model over round because squares make more efficient use of space which is a tip I picked up from a friend who organizes spaces for a living.
Remember to run your dehydrator with all of the trays it came with to keep a good airflow and prevent the unit from overheating which can damage it. My dehydrators came with four trays each. Each of mine can hold a maximum of eight trays each.
I use the silicone mesh screens because it keeps small foods from falling through and makes it easier to clean. For foods you know will stick, use a little food safe silicone spray to make it easy to remove them. My favorite way to clean the trays and bottom is to put all of them in a storage tote, soak them for a good while in warm water and dish soap, and then clean them one by one in the sink. That makes quick clean up.
I also have extra fruit leather trays and have made my own by using inverted plastic lids from meal prep/restaurant take out style containers.
I love my dehydrators because they help keep my food budget on track and can be used in so many ways that enhance our health and daily living.