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Reviews > Food Preparation Gear > Nesco Gardenmaster Pro Dehydrator > Owner Review by Csilla Tabor

January 23, 2011


NAME: Csilla Tabor
EMAIL: ejjelicsillag AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 27
LOCATION: Fernandina Beach, Florida, United States
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 160 lb (72.60 kg)

I have been camping and hiking for most of my life, mainly in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Hungary, and Romania. Most of my backpacking experience is on one- to four-night trips. I have slimmed down my pack considerably since my Girl Scout days, but I still would not call myself an ultralight hiker. On more recent trips, during which I have backpacked solo or with one or two others, I lightened my load to around 15 pounds (7 kilograms). I'm currently preparing to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail with a light (15 pound [7 kilogram] base weight) pack.


Manufacturer: Nesco
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US$149.99
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: N/A
Other details: (from Nesco website)
- 1000 watts of drying power
- patented Converga-Flow 4.5" fan
- adjustable temperature control (95F - 160F)
Adjustable temperature

- includes 52-page recipe and instruction book, 1 solid sheet, 1 mesh sheet, and 1 packet of jerky spices
- 2400-RPM motor
- opaque Vita-Save exterior blocks harmful light
- expands to 30 15 1/2" diameter trays
The dehydrator with four removable shelves


I'd like to start off by saying I'm obsessed with food. I wake up in the morning thinking about what I'll eat for breakfast. In the middle of breakfast I'm already planning what lunch and even dinner will bring. Food is constantly on my mind, and this is especially true when I'm backpacking. Because of this, the opportunity to prepare the food I normally eat at home and then take it with me on the trail sounded like something I could not pass up. Cue my Nesco food dehydrator.

I received my dehydrator about two months ago and have been running it essentially non-stop ever since. So far, I've used it to prepare beef jerky, fruit leather, various dried fruits, and dried canned meals. The shortest time period I used it consistently was four hours to make beef jerky, and the longest was twelve hours to make banana chips. The dehydrator works well drying all four shelves at equal rates regardless of the drying time.

The dehydrator came with a relatively detailed manual listing drying times for different foods, but I have mostly ignored that in favor of a more comprehensive book of recipes and drying tips that I purchased separately. Since I do not have a dishwasher, I have washed all drying surfaces by hand after use. I have experienced some difficulty thoroughly cleaning the small gaps in the shelves, especially after dehydrating sticky foods like fruit leather.

Since the dehydrator came with only one solid plastic sheet (necessary for drying liquid foods like fruit leathers and sauces), I used plastic wrap on the remaining shelves when preparing large quantities of such foods. This was an effective method, although it took some experimentation to get the plastic wrap to lay flat without wrinkles and stay clear of the air flow. Extra sheets are available for purchase on Nesco's website (two for $9.95), but I'm content enough with my improvised version to avoid the extra cost.
Mesh sheet and solid sheet

The round shape of the dehydrator is both a positive and negative aspect, in my opinion. It allows for maximum drying surface area without having to try to get food into corners. However, the round shape also means it takes up an awkwardly-shaped large portion of my kitchen table. In addition to the physical space it takes up, its one major flaw in my opinion is the noise it makes. It is about as loud as a typical microwave, which can get annoying when it's running for 12 hours straight. As I live in a small apartment it has a very large presence when I'm running it.

So far I've enjoyed most of the food I've dehydrated. My banana chips came out chewier than I like them, but this texture worked alright with dried strawberries. The beef jerky I've prepared was delicious, as was the fruit leather. Even dehydrated canned meals dry down to about one-third their original weight, and rehydrate in a little water and a few minutes on a stove. My biggest problem right now is not saving the food until my next trip without snacking on it.


This dehydrator has become a major component of my backpacking preparation. I am able to dry a seemingly endless variety of foods to about one-third their initial weight, making my favorite foods accessible even in the backcountry.

The early stages of my food preparation involved some experimentation to get things how I wanted them, but the dehydrator is well worth the cost because it allows me to personalize the food I'll be eating while backpacking. In fact, after preparing my own beef jerky, I could hardly stomach the commercially-prepared variety I sampled at a store recently!


Different temperature settings to prepare a variety of foods
Round shape for maximum drying surface area
Dries four shelves at equal rates without needing to rotate them during the drying process


Takes up a lot of space
Wish it would come with more solid sheets
Difficult to clean shelves by hand
Close-up of mesh sheet and plastic sheet


Happy hiking!
~Csilla Tabor~

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Food Preparation Gear > Nesco Gardenmaster Pro Dehydrator > Owner Review by Csilla Tabor

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