Last week I finally decided on my CSN Stores product review. I ordered my Nesco/American Harvest FD-60 Snackmaster Express on a Sunday and found the package waiting on our porch that Thursday. Not bad!
It looked just like the photo, and the size was good -- not too big, not too small. It also came complete with instructions and recipes. I didn't have time to use it until the weekend though, and I decided to start out with something pretty easy, and hopefully fail-proof.
I skimmed through the fruit-drying instructions and decided to make some dried apples and a fruit roll-up (since it also came with one fruit roll-up tray, and, well, I just love fruit roll-ups).
I had bought some large honeycrisp apples and sliced them into pretty thin slices. I also dipped them in some lime juice to try and prevent too much browning. I sliced two apples and ended up filling two trays.
I had also read that you can make a fruit roll-up by just pouring applesauce onto the tray, and it doesn't get much easier than that! But I also decided to puree a little bit of banana to mix in with my applesauce. Then, I poured the mixture onto the tray. The instructions said to make the layer 1/4" to 3/8" thick, but it was hard to tell how thick mine really was.
Then, it was time to put the lid on and start drying. The guide on the lid is pretty self-explanatory, indicating that fruits should be dehydrated at 135 degrees. I set the dial, plugged it in, and that was all. Luke thought it was kind of noisy, but I really didn't think it was too bad.
Now, the hard part was waiting. Using a food dehydrator is the ultimate exercise in patience, but I was just hoping it would be worth it in the end. The chart in the instruction book said that it could take anywhere from 4-10 hours to dry apples. Not very helpful. I would have to check them periodically and try to judge it by the "How to tell when your food is dried" guidelines.
And, we're drying....
... and we're still drying...
Five hours later, I decided to take the apples off. They seemed sufficiently leathery and pliable. Oh, and my photos now have a radioactive orange glow for some reason.
And the taste test results? Delicious! The apples were sweet and tart and had a nice, chewy texture. My only complaint is that they didn't last long enough! Luke and I devoured them in a matter of minutes. I guess it's easy to do that when they shrink up and lose all their moisture. I would have to dehydrate a lot of apples if we wanted them to last very long around here! But that's beside the point. The point is, they're yummy and they make a healthy snack.
The fruit roll-up wasn't quite ready, so I left it in longer and took it out about an hour later after I couldn't wait anymore.
It was a little tricky getting under it to peel it off the tray, but then it was pretty easy. Turns out, it wasn't quite done in one area and left some gooey stuff. Impatience prevails again. But it was nothing a little soaking wouldn't clean up.
The fruit roll-up was also pretty tasty -- not too sweet, since it was mostly applesauce. You could taste the hint of banana, though. Luke was very impressed, especially since he'd never had homemade fruit roll-ups before. I can't wait to make some with strawberries or peaches when they're in season.
Overall, we're quite satisfied with the dehydrator's first performance. Plus, clean-up was really easy because these particular foods didn't make much mess. I'm pretty excited about all of the possibilities!
Thanks again to CSN Stores for giving me the opportunity to do this product review! I would definitely purchase from them again, based on this experience.