The versatile Cuisinart DHR-20 Food Dehydrator not only lets you dry fruits, vegetables and meats such as jerky, but it also works nicely to make yogurt, dried herbs, homemade doggie treats, dehydrated fish and even dried flowers for crafts or potpourri. This five-tray food dehydrator comes with a 620-watt powered fan that circulates hot air from the base up and around the trays of food. If you want to preserve more edible items, you can buy extra trays to stack as high as nine deep on this dehydrator.
Cuisinart is a brand associated with good quality and performance, but our testing with banana slices cut between 1/8 and 1/4 inches showed some difficulties. We followed the user manual's instructions, arranging the slices so they wouldn't touch and thus providing good air circulation. The bottom trays did well – the slices were reasonably well dehydrated. But slices on the top rack were still quite moist. The second rack was better, but not by much. These clearly needed more time in the dehydrator.
The Cuisinart user manual states that precise dehydrating times can vary "greatly." It recommends that you keep notes on the foods you dry, their weight before and after drying, the length of time spent drying this particular food, and the results so you can tailor your dehydration process to suit the foods you dry and get them to the level of doneness you want. If you long for greater drying consistency, check out the Nesco Snackmaster Pro.
The adjustable temperature knob lets you set the controls for a low level at about 110 degrees Fahrenheit, medium level at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a high level that is approximately 175 degrees Fahrenheit, or a fan-only mode with no heat. Excess heat is released through a series of holes in the machine's lid. Along with your purchase, you get a fruit roll sheet that is useful for making such things as fruit leather.
With dimensions of 12 inches wide, 14 inches long and 10.5 inches high, and weighing 8.7 pounds, this food dehydrator is compact enough to easily store in a kitchen cabinet or on a shelf. Cleaning is a simple task since the trays, the fruit roll sheet and the lid are all dishwasher safe, and the rest of the machine can simply be wiped clean with a cloth.
Cuisinart does not skimp when it comes to customer service. With this dehydrator, you get a well-written user manual that includes clear instructions and a wide-ranging choice of recipes for such things as salt and vinegar potato crisps, tuna jerky, tropical granola and yogurt roll-ups. Cuisinart also provides a helpful video tutorial on its website, as well as phone and email customer support. This food dehydrator also is backed by a three-year warranty.