Dehydrating Food is Easy & Frugal


006If you grow herbs during summer and then ignore them in the fall, that’s a crop that’s going to waste.

With a small dehydrator, you can dry and continue to enjoy them in your cooking and salads.

But a dehydrator can do so much more than just dry herbs. And buying a dehydrator does not have to be confusing or expensive.  The Nesco Snackmaster Dehydrator is one of my favorite appliances. Nesco® makes very nice appliances and keeps prices comparable and affordable. I like many of their products.

Nesco Snackmaster dehydrator

Nesco Snackmaster dehydrator

I’ve dried tomatoes, orange slices, parsley, basil, stevia, mint, onion slices and fruit in this dehydrator. Apple slices are definitely favorites. These have been successfully dried, with a few exceptions.

Foods that do not do well are bananas – unless very thin slices, chives, raspberries or celery. Pineapple is very nice dried, but should also be thinner than some recommend.

Some foods just naturally hold much more moisture and would require a higher powered dehydrator or several more hours.

010We’ve also made jerky from beef and deer in it with the use of their Jerky Gun. You can also thinly slice a meat or wild game roast and dehydrate the strips too, but we prefer using the Jerky Gun and Nesco’s  jerky seasonings.

Dehydrators vary in power and design and some would be much quicker than this Nesco unit, but they would also be heavier and bulkier to handle and store. This Nesco model is the perfect choice for a practical, affordable dehydrator that’s lightweight, easy to store and use.

Instructions that come with this Dehydrator are easy to follow and once you’ve used it, you’ll see how simple the process really is. There’s also a quick reference temperature guide on the top (handle) of this unit.

I found that foods dehydrate better if thinly sliced. And batches tend to vary time-wise too. Keeping a journal is a good strategy. You’ll enjoy having dried onions on hand to add to cooking, or dried orange pieces for your homemade tea mix. Dried tomatoes are nice to add to soup. Dried foods store easily in airtight jars, in a cool dark place, and rehydrate quickly with a little moisture.

Drying times (from 8 hours up) can vary depending on the food’s moisture content and the room’s humidity, so I usually run it overnight. Operating noise is not really a concern – it’s fairly low, but we’re on time of use (TOU) electricity rates, with the lowest price period being from 7 pm to 7 am. So dehydrating overnight works best for us.

The Nesco Snackmaster comes with a few plastic trays (more are available for purchase) and you can just use what you need when drying a batch. And they wash up very easily after use. There’s also a solid tray included for making fruit leather which is ideal for the kid’s lunch boxes.

Making your own dehydrated foods does save on the food budget, reduces food waste and gives you control over what’s in your food. Dried foods tend to be costly; this is one way to save – drying your own.  Remember, you need a Jerky Gun if you want to make jerky.

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