Nesco Food Dehydrator
The Nesco Food Dehydrator ($60) is a simple, affordable, and well-built tool for drying foods quickly and thoroughly. Though not an every-day-use item for most people, it becomes absolutely essential when it is needed.
I recently went on a weekend trip hunting for morels and returned with far more than I could eat. Luckily, this dehydrator made short work of the excess. The stackable trays easily fit 60 whole small morels and many of the larger ones which I’d cut in half. Altogether, I fit about three pounds of mushrooms in fivetrays.
Like the previously reviewed Excalibur Food Dehydrator, the Nesco model has a temperature control, fan, and heating unit. The Nesco’s heating unit is built into the top (cheaper models heat bottom-up) that sits atop the stack of trays and blows air through a central column allowing for better distribution and airflow throughout.
I used a temperature of 110F when drying morels, and left them to dry over night for about 8 hours. Since any moisture can lead to a ruined batch, I made sure to let them dry out for a little longer than necessary. They were perfectly dried the next morning, and ready for storage in an airtight container.
While I have mainly used this model for mushrooms, the large trays and variable temperature dial (95-160F) allows for a wide range of dried foods to be made. This particular model is also expandable to 12 trays if you need to dry a truly astonishing amount of food.
The Nesco, when compared with the Excalibur, has the benefit of being nearly $125 dollars cheaper combined with a smaller (though expandable) footprint, a relatively-quiet fan, and similarly adjustable temperature.
— Oliver Hulland
I have experience with both the Excalibur and the more recently-reviewed Nesco, a smaller and less expensive dehydrator. The Excalibur is a superior product if you are a heavy user and tend to be drying large batches of produce at once. It has quite a bit more capacity due to the design (no center hole and square racks make a big difference). The horizontal airflow system does dry large batches more uniformly. Although you can add racks to the Nesco, it dries less efficiently, and once you add in the cost of extra racks you are approaching the same price as the Excalibur.
Having said that, the price on the Nesco has really dropped and the top-down heater/blower is a nice upgrade over the older bottom-fan models. Heck, you could almost get three of them for the same price as an Excalibur, although that would take up a lot of storage space and use more energy to power 3 units.
(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2007 — editors)