I’ve always kind of wanted to own a food dehydrator but never got around to ordering one because I was able to make my own jerky in the oven. My oven baked beef jerky was “good enough” for my own consumption which was fine by me. Then along comes my 37th birthday and my family is now tasked with purchasing a gift for the guy who owns everything… So when asked what I wanted for my birthday I said “how about a food dehydrator?” So after doing much research I opted for the Nesco Snackmaster Pro FD-75A based upon all of the positive reviews that it had received on Amazon.
I’ve listed the specifications and package contents for the Nesco Snackmaster Pro below. Out of all of the features listed, the top mounted fan is perhaps the most important. The reason being is that jerky tends to drip as it is drying. Cleanup would therefore be a real hassle if the drying fan were bottom mounted whereas the Nesco Snackmaster Pro has a top mounted fan so that all you need to do is is wash the drying trays in warm, soapy water after you are done which is a huge time saver!
Also, you’ll want to be aware that this unit DOES NOT have a timer and therefore needs to be shutoff manually. You can get around this limitation by purchasing an inexpensive electrical outlet timer but I would not do so until you’ve got your drying times down to a science.
Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A Specifications
- Top mounted 600W fan
- Adjustable thermostat, covers a range of 95 ℉ – 160 ℉ in order to dry foods at the proper temperature
- Expandable unit comes with 5 trays, but can be expanded to support up to 12 trays
- Includes 2 fruit roll sheets for making homemade fruit snacks
- Includes 2 Clean-A-Screens which are used for drying small items such as herbs and spices
- Jerky spice packets
My Advice; Read The Manual!
The Nesco Snackmaster Pro is really, really easy to use and you will most likely be able to successfully use this dehydrator on your first use providing that you read the manual… The included manual, which you can read here before purchasing the Nesco Snackmaster Pro, contains food drying charts along with pre-treatment guidelines for fruits, vegetables, meats, etc… This information is invaluable! I for example had no idea that you can prevent dried apples from browning by soaking the slices in lemon juice beforehand.
One thing that you’ll immediately notice upon reading the manual is that there can be substantial variations in drying times for a given food item. Take bananas for example; the manual states that the drying time for making banana chips is between 6 – 12 hours. There are several factors that affect drying times including relative humidity, the amount of food loaded onto the trays, and how many trays are being used. I’ve listed some of the drying times that I’ve experienced with the Nesco Snackmaster Pro during this past winter with all 5 trays full. I can honestly say that once you’ve experimented a little and have figured out your drying times you’ll be able to reproduce the desired result each and every time down to the minute!
Dehydrator Drying Times That I’ve Experienced
Granny Smith With Cinnamon – 6 Hours
Marinated Ground Venison – 5 Hours
Marinated Ground Beef 90% Lean – 8 Hours
Seasoned Beef 93% Lean – 7 Hours
Marinated Sandwich Steak (Thin, 8th Inch Cuts) – 8 Hours
Using A Food Dehydrator To Make Jerky
Although the dried apples, strawberries, and banana chips that I made were delicious, you’re a Northeast Sporting reader and are probably more interested in learning about how well the Nesco Snackmaster Pro makes beef jerky. I can honestly say from personal experience that this dehydrator makes some of the best beef jerky that I have ever had. In fact, I haven’t purchased beef jerky from a chain store or gas station since owning the Nesco Snackmaster Pro and don’t intend to ever again. I made the “mistake” of bringing in some of my homemade jerky for some of the guys at work and they ended up giving me packages of venison and beef so that I could make more. At one point I had more meat in my fridge (belonging to other people) that was waiting to be made in to jerky than I knew what to do with!
Here are some tips that you can follow in order to make jerky using your Nesco Snackmaster Pro;
- Find a good marinade! We’ve got a marinade for beef jerky that we think you’re going to love! Click here for the recipe.
- You can use either ground beef or thinly sliced steaks to make jerky and if you’ve got venison then you are in for a real treat.
- You can save yourself a lot of prep time by purchasing pre-cut thinly sliced steaks. I get a cut of meat called “sandwich steak” from BJ’s which is about an 8th of an inch thick.
- If you are going to use ground beef to make jerky be sure to use beef that is at 90% lean, the more lean the better. I tried 85% lean beef once and the jerky did not turn out very well.
- You can (and should) marinate ground beef before using it to make jerky and you can prepare the jerky strips with out a “gun” using a technique that I learned by watching this YouTube video. Fast forward to the 3:38 minute marker and you’ll see what I mean.
- Store your jerky in large sized preserving jars and remember that homemade jerky does not contain chemicals and preservatives with names as long as you arm so it doesn’t last as long as store bought jerky.
Although the Nesco Snackmaster Pro including all trays is made entirely of plastic it is of solid build quality. You will notice that there are differences between the food that you dehydrate at home as opposed to the dehydrated foods that you purchase in the store. For example, the banana chips that I made at home were not crunchy like those sold in the stores. I consulted Nesco and have come to found out that this is because store bought banana chips are actually deep-fried which more or less negates their overall nutritional quality. Dehydrated strawberries are delicious, but unfortunately have a low yield because there is so much moisture that needs to be drawn out out of the fruit. You can expect your batch to shrink by nearly 75%! Apples dehydrate extremely well and have a wonderful texture. These will likely become my go to fruit snack. My electric bill did rise by around $20 using the dehydrator every weekend of the month on both Saturday and Sunday. I am OK with that though because the quality of the food that I can dehydrate at home by far exceeds the quality of the dehydrated food that is sold in stores. I have used my Nesco Snackmaster Pro primarily for making jerky and will never go back to using the oven because using the dehydrator to make jerky is so much easier. In summary, for only $69.99 on Amazon you’ll be able to dehydrate food and make jerky at home that is better than anything available at the store using the Nesco Snackmaster Pro.