The food dehydrator industry is always on the lookout for innovative features that will make the food drying process easier and faster, as well as produce better results. While there are plenty of innovations, however, all modern residential and commercial food dehydrators are equipped with a heating element for heat and a fan for air circulation. Without these two crucial features, these products will be of little use, even when there are large trays, jerky guns, and seasoning mixes for the meats.
The Nesco FD-80A is one of the more innovative food dehydrators in the market today. From its square shape to its air flow technology, its innovative features make food dehydration a breeze even for first-time users. Of course, the best possible results from its use can only be enjoyed when it’s used properly from slicing the food to setting the temperature and timer.
The NescoFD-80A measures 14.5 x 14.5 x 9 inches, the right balance between offering a large capacity for residential food drying purposes and a compact size for fitting into limited countertop space. This can even be placed inside a cabinet although many customers say that it’s just too good a food dehydrator to be kept in storage – use it as many times as you can so that healthy and delicious dried food can be yours every day.
The square shape isn’t just because the manufacturers want it to be square for aesthetic reasons. Instead, the food dehydrator provides a larger area for drying – as much as 41 percent more – in comparison with its round counterparts. Just imagine the greater amount of food that you can dehydrate using the Nesco FD-80A in a single session, which means more cost efficiency (i.e., time, energy and power consumed).
For example, instead of just 3 kilos of fruits and vegetables that can be placed inside it, you can dehydrate as much as 4 kilos due to the larger space. You can use the time and effort you saved from preparing a single batch instead of two batches on other tasks.
The larger drying area demands a more efficient drying technology and the Nesco FD-80A apparently delivered on it. According to the manufacturer, it has a unique air circulation system consisting of a top-mounted fan with the company’s Converga-Flow Action. Skipping the technical talk, this means that the heated air from the heating element is pushed downward.
The heated air passes through the outer ring before being pushed horizontally across each tray with the air converging in the center. There are two benefits to the top-mounted fan position as against the typical rear-mounted fan, namely, the drying process becomes faster and the food can be dried in a more even manner.
The second benefit is important since it means there’s no need to rotate the trays at any point of the drying process. This is in contrast with many food dehydrators that require shelves rotation once in a while to ensure simultaneous drying.
Of course, even a unique air circulation and heating technology will be less efficient when there’s insufficient power. The Nesco FD-80A has a powerful 700-watt motor, a more powerful motor than many food dehydrators with similar capacity – most only have 400 to 500 watts.
But even with a powerful motor, the drying results will be less than satisfactory due to other factors, such as the incorrect thickness of the food slices, the inefficient placement of the sliced food on the trays, and the incorrect temperature and time.
And speaking of temperature, you can adjust the heat inside the food dehydrator from 95 to 155 degrees via a simple control knob. You can easily dial in the right temperature, even adjust it in the middle of the drying process. You don’t have to guess the right temperature, too, since the manufacturer already printed temperature and time guidelines on the unit’s motor housing.
Keep in mind that each type of food requires a specific drying temperature and time. For fruits and vegetables, the optimum temperature is 130°F to 140°F since it will evaporate the moisture while preserving their nutrients and concentrating their flavors.
For nuts and seeds, the best temperatures are between 90°F and 100°F, as is the case for potpourri flowers, spices, and herbs. For meats, these should be dried at the highest setting for best results, especially to kill the pathogens.
The parts are also easy to clean since these can be washed in the dishwasher. Other highlights include a bale handle useful in the safe and easy removal of the powerhead, an informative instruction manual, and a one-year limited warranty.
Emphasis must be made that despite these useful features, the unit doesn’t have a timer function, a major issue for many consumers who want a truly easy-to-use food dehydrator.
We observed the following advantages:
- Faster drying times without the need to rotate the trays
- Top-mounted fan for better drying results
- Adjustable thermostat suitable for dehydrating a wide range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, seeds, and meats
- Large-capacity square trays
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean unit and trays
- Printed optimum temperature guidelines
- Durable plastic components
- Compact size
- More powerful motor
But there are also disadvantages to the Nesco FD-80A including:
- Not designed for expansion in the sense that no trays can be added
- No on/off switch
- No timer, which can be inconvenient since you have to manually switch off the unit
- Only a single mesh liner although more can be purchased separately
The Nesco FD-80A food dehydrator is a great choice if you want a larger-capacity unit that produces faster and better drying results. The more powerful motor coupled with the unique air flow technology and heating element contribute to such efficiency. The ease of use is also part of its appeal, especially when you read the instruction manual first.
You will find that even with a basic knowledge of food dehydration, the product is a great tool for it. You must beware, however, of the risks for overheating and over-drying with the Nesco FD-80Adue to the absence of an auto shut-off feature.