There's something predictable, if not a little cliché, about registering for a Kitchenaid stand mixer or a pasta maker on your wedding registry. Kitchen tools are fun, and they're good to have if you're thinking about "getting into" a new culinary activity.
The downside? They can be expensive and may not be used more than a few times before you're offloading them on Craigslist.
Enter the Presto 06300 Dehydro Food Dehydrator, which takes care of the price tag apprehension at $30. If you're on a beef jerky or fruit leather kick, purchasing a food dehydrator will actually cut costs if you're serious about swapping out pricey $7 jerky packs at the store for your homemade versions.
While the Presto Dehydro doesn't boast all of the bells and whistles of a more expensive version, it's a low-stakes way to test your commitment to the process before throwing down a few hundred dollars. With a four-tray layering system and transparent top cover, the Presto gets the job done. The machine takes up a good amount of counter space, so you want to make sure you can give up the real estate (or a cabinet) for your new kitchen tool. You'll need an outlet nearby as well.
The Presto Dehydro comes ready to make meat jerky and dried fruits and veggies, but additional kits containing mesh screens, fruit roll screens, and accessories for fancy snacks like fruit leather have to be purchased separately.
The machine takes up a good amount of counter space, but the drying trays nest for easier, more compact storage. Presto
The racks are dishwasher safe and pretty easy to clean, though half of the fun of making jerky is using meat you've marinated in the sauce of your choosing. If you pick something sticky, you'll pay for it later trying to scrub remnants from the crevices off the racks. Only you can decide if that's worth it to you.
One of the great things about a dehydrator is how easy it is to prepare the food before putting it onto the machine.
Thin strips of beef marinated in an easy homemade or store-bought sauce will leave you with a tasty snack and not a lot of room for error. Once your meat or snack of choice is prepared, you can layer slices on trays and then stack the trays. It is not recommended that different snacks are dehydrated at the same time while using this model, though a more expensive model can take care of that desire pretty easily. The Presto operates at a preset temperature of 165°F, and will have to be manually changed by the user if a recipe calls for a different temperature. An easy-to-understand manual is included in the box with the machine.
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All that said, patience is required. Dehydrating takes a few hours at minimum, and sometimes can take longer if you're preparing fattier cuts of meat. The bottom mounted fan on the machine does create a whirring noise while in use.
If you're an impulse buyer who loves trying new things in the kitchen, I can't see you going wrong with the $30 Presto Dehydro. Enough of Amazon customers agree with me since the appliance has more than 1,000 five-star reviews.
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