Nesco FD-75PR Dehydrator Review
Drying has been a common method for extending the storage life of food for ages. It is still used at the industrial level to make camping, backpacking and long term storage type meals and ingredients. Many different store bought snacks, such as jerky and fruit rolls are the product of dehydrating food. Home dehydrators have certainly been around for a while, but the more affordable models have, in my experience, often left a lot to be desired. But, the Nesco FD-75PR dehydrator comes with everything that you need in the box and works as advertised to do a good job drying snacks, making “fruit rolls” and even jerky.
The Nesco FD-75PR comes with five trays in the box. For most people who do not have their own large garden, this should be plenty. If you are producing your own bumper crop of roma tomatoes next year and need a way to dry piles of them, you can add trays to the unit, up to a maximum of twelve at a time. Since, the thinner you cut stuff, the faster it will dry, you are usually better off having two trays of thinly sliced food than one try of thickly sliced items.
Two fruit roll tray inserts are shipped with the unit. They work as advertised to turn fruit slurry into a round, leathery strip. We found apple sauce to be a good base to mix with strawberries, peaches, etc so that the flavor of the fruit roll is not overwhelming. If you don’t need fruit rolls to trick your kids into eating something healthy, then these can be used to dry sauces or even whole pasta dishes to make your own Mountain House type meals. These also make good drip catchers if they are put on the bottom tray when making jerky that has been soaking in marinade.
The two fine mesh tray liners come in handy when you are drying something sticky like pineapple. They are also good for drying really small items that might fall through the grate on the regular trays. I would not use them for larger items, unless they are needed. The finer grating is harder to clean than the regular trays after drying beef jerky. The good news is that since the motor and all the electronics are in the lid of the dehydrator, the trays and the bottom section can all go in the sink. If you soak these parts in the sink for a bit, then everything pretty much just wipes off with a soapy sponge. You can run everything but the lid through the dishwasher, but the manual does contain some dire warnings about pulling all the parts out before the drying cycle runs, and something horrible happens.
We dried both pineapple and bananas the last time we ran a load of fruit. One of the nice things about this model is that it pushes the hot air down the sides of the trays, so that fruit on one tray won’t end up tasting like whatever is on the tray next to it. This seems to work, as the pineapple and bananas both tasted like themselves, not their neighbors. You can pre-treat banana and other fruits with honey or other coatings to help prevent them from browning during the drying process. I usually don’t bother, as my kids will polish off a whole load of dried fruit in a few days, without complaint. The trick with this, if you don’t have a garden, is to buy fruit when it comes in season and is dirt cheap for a few weeks at the grocery store. Then, you can dry it, bag it and keep it in the freezer for the months when grocers seem to think that berries are made of gold. Dried fruit is a much better snack than the fruit gummies that are often loaded with sugar, colorings and very little actual fruit.
The fruit rolls are about as easy as dehydrating gets. Just throw the fruit into a blender and spread the slurry out on the fruit roll tray insert. The curved edges make it hard to overfill. You can coat the tray with oil if you feel the need, but I haven’t had a problem peeling the fruit roll up, once you get an edge started. Just go slow and work your way around. The final product will be shaped like a doughnut, but can be easily cut into strips or wedges.