When you begin enjoying the fruits of food dehydration, you can become addicted! You will like the idea that you have complete control over the types of food that you can dehydrate, as well as their thickness, tastes, and flavors.
You can dehydrate fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, seeds, and meats according to your desired level of crispiness, not to mention that you can skip on the additives, preservatives, and excess salt and sodium in store-bought dried food.
The Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster is among the newer releases of the company known for its extensive line of food dehydrators, among other kitchen appliances. This is touted as the top-of-the-line product because of its higher watts, larger capacity, and faster drying process, even its more appealing aesthetics. Keep in mind, nonetheless, that it must be used properly to get the best results for it’s just a tool in the food dehydration process.
The Gardenmaster isn’t exactly a compact food dehydrator so you must take it into account when considering its purchase. But its larger size also means larger capacity aside from the following notable features.
This has a 2,400 revolutions per minute (RPM) motor coupled with a 4.5-inch fan, a combination that resulted in faster drying times – or as the company says it, four times faster than other food dehydrators of comparable size. While your actual results will vary for many reasons, fruit rolls can be made in just 3-6 hours while beef jerky can take 4-5 hours depending on the thickness of their slices. You may have to experiment with the temperature and time to get your preferred results but these are usually faster than with other food dehydrators.
A powerful fan is a must in effective food dehydration because it facilitates good airflow in and around the trays containing the food, whether it’s fruits and vegetables or meat and fish. When there’s good air circulation, the heat can be distributed evenly inside the unit resulting in more even drying.
The temperature can be adjusted according to the desired level of crispiness with the temperature ranging from 90 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The adjustable thermostat is obviously a standard feature in all food dehydrators but the Gardenmaster’s easy-to-adjust thermostat differentiates it from the rest of its competitors.
An efficient heating element is also crucial to the success of the food dehydration process. The moisture evaporation occurs when the food is subjected to low levels of heat over several hours. The more efficient the heating element, the faster the drying times, the better the results can likely be.
When choosing the best temperature, bear in mind the water content in each type of food. Fruits and vegetables usually have higher water content than herbs and nuts as well as meats and fish so their temperature requirements will be different. You are well-advised to separately dehydrate meats from fruits and vegetables to get the best results.
Both the fan and heating element are powered by a powerful 1,000-watt motor. Emphasis must be made that other food dehydrators only have 500- to 700-watt motors.
The unit is also equipped with a digital timer, which can be programmed for up to 48 hours of drying time. You don’t have to constantly check on the food and manually shut off the food dehydrator because of the timer.
The overall design of the Gardenmaster isn’t just beautiful to look at if you’re the type who wants kitchen appliances to have a pleasing design. The Gardenmaster’s opaque exterior also serves an important function – it blocks out exterior light so more nutrients can be locked into the food instead of leaching out. This is an important aspect of food dehydration since the process is designed to preserve both the flavors and nutrients in the food.
Of course, the proper preparation of the food for dehydration is crucial in the preservation of the flavors and nutrients. You must, for example, choose the freshest possible fruits and vegetables, slice them just before placing them in the food dehydrator and dehydrate them in it at the right temperature and time. When the food sits too long or sits under too hot temperatures, you can’t expect it to be of much nutritional value.
The Gardenmaster in its original package only comes with four trays, which doesn’t seem like much considering that many food dehydrators come with 5 or more trays. But this isn’t a big issue considering that the Gardenmaster can be expanded to as many as 20 trays, which means there are as much as 20 square feet of drying area. The Add-a-Trays, which measure 15.5 inches in diameter, can be purchased separately.
There’s also an ingenious feature in the Gardenmaster. As more trays are added, the food dehydrator automatically adjusts its drying feature according to the number of trays. You don’t have to make any other adjustments for as long as you have already set the right temperature.
The accessories included in the basic package include:
- Four regular trays
- Fruit roll sheet for drying semi-liquid food
- Flexible screen for drying spices, herbs, and potpourri
- Jerky spice and packet
Be sure to check that the unit is in good condition and the accessories are included in the package before turning it on.
The Gardenmaster has the following advantages:
- Powerful fan and heating element
- Fast drying times
- Large drying capacity especially with its expandable option
- Adjustable thermostat and programmable timer
- No need to rotate the trays
But it also has its cons:
- Relatively larger space needed when placed on a kitchen countertop
- Higher price
If you’re looking for a food dehydrator with a larger capacity yet still suitable for home use, then the Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster will likely be on top of your list.
You can dehydrate as little or as many of your preferred food as you like by subtracting or adding the number of trays. You will also find that thanks to its more powerful motor, you can dehydrate in a lesser time a greater amount of food, whether it’s a combination of fruits and vegetables or a few kilos of beef jerky.