I’ve been drying flowers, seeds, and fruits since the 1980’s. My dehydrator was and old brown plastic one with a heating element in the bottom and every year summer I’d reluctantly pull it out to dry blueberries. Sadly it didn’t produce even results, but I used it up until this year because I didn’t know better. Now dehydrators can be used for so much more and with their air drying systems, they produce fabulous results.
When offered the chance to try out a new generation dryer, I chose the FD-80 Snackmaster® Square Dehydrator & Jerky Maker. I picked it specifically because of its square shape. I thought I’d love the larger surface that the shape provided me, and I was right! The Nesco FD-80 has been the perfect fit for our kitchen and an appliance we’ve used every week since we received it.
Nesco FD-80 Dehydrator: Uses & Safety
The most important thing about the Nesco FD-80 Dehydrator is that it’s made from BPA-free plastic. It’s the number one reason why I chose this brand. That’s because its primary function will be to make my dog’s favorite treats, chicken jerky, and the thought of poisoning them with a machine made with BPA was out of the question. With the Nesco FD-80, I’m able to make the healthiest dog treats I can for them in just hours and absolutely no preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, or additives. With so many dog treats from China being recalled, it just wasn’t safe for me to purchase chicken jerky for them commercially any longer. I’ve found a few alternative treats they like that are made in the USA, but there are so few and none of them the jerky that they love, so this was a perfect solution for us.
While I plan to do more with my new dehydrator, for now, it’s mostly a dog treat machine. For moms with small children, this is the perfect machine for making homemade fruit leathers. Check the labels on those brightly colored and artificially flavored fruit “roll-ups” your kids are eating – the ingredients are scary! I’ve also found some recipes for baking. Who knew you could make Vanilla Brownies, Vanilla Almond Macaroons, and Chocolate Ginger Macaroons in a dehydrator?!?
Nesco FD-80: What’s Included & Clean Up
The Nesco FD-80 arrives with 4 trays, a top mounted fan with 700 watts of drying power with available temperature settings from 95-160º F. It also comes with a Jerky Spice and Cure Packet (though my cure packet was punctured so I’m not able to tell you how they worked) plus a Clean-a-Screen to keep small items from falling through the trays. I’ve since purchased a second one as well as additional trays to increase the capacity.
The food dehydrator is generously sized at 14.5 x 14.5″ and the trays are easy to clean and they can be put in the dishwasher (though remove them before the drying cycle to prevent any chance of warping).
- 3-5 chicken breasts, boned and skinned with all visible fat removed
- Dried parsley, rosemary, or sage (optional)
- Freeze the chicken breasts in a single layer for about 20 minutes before drying - this makes them easier to slice.
- Rinse the chicken breasts and slice them ⅛" thick (uniformity is key - the slice should be even from start to finish).
- Lay the strips one the dehydrator tray; avoid overlapping or touching.
- Dehydrate at 160 degrees for about 2 hours then rotate the trays and check..
- Continue dehydrating and rotating until the meat is fully dry (remove smaller dried pieces as they finish). Drying takes from 4-12 hours depending on the thickness and humidity. How do you tell if they're done? Break a piece in two - the meat should be uniform in color, rigid, with no moisture inside.
- Pat the chicken with paper towels to remove any chicken fat (fat makes them go rancid faster). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks (they can be frozen for 2-3 months).