Pros / You don't need to rotate trays with this food dehydrator.
Cons / It comes with just four drying trays.
Verdict / The Open Country 51542 Gardenmaster Dehydrator is a potent machine whose powerful fan helps make short work of drying foods, and you can expand it up to 30 trays to dry large quantities.
The Open Country 51542 Gardenmaster Dehydrator provides you with a fast and powerful way to dehydrate food. This helpful kitchen appliance comes with four large drying trays. You can expand that up to an impressive 30 trays, but that will ratchet up the total price. If you opt for all the additional trays, you get about 30 square feet of drying space, which means you can preserve substantial quantities of food. If you need a unit that makes even larger quantities, consider Cabela's Commercial Food Dehydrator.
The Open Country adjusts the drying pressure automatically to the number of trays you are using during each dehydration session. Our testing with banana slices cut to between 1/8 and 1/4 inches showed even drying, and good quality texture and taste.
The Gardenmaster's adjustable temperature controls, ranging from 95 degrees to 155 degrees Fahrenheit, allow different foods to dry at the same time using a range of temperatures, giving all the foods in the dryer the best dehydration results. This machine has 1,000 watts of drying power, and the Converga-Flow fan directs heated air in a pressurized chamber located outside the unit. Once flowing through this chamber, air flows horizontally across the trays for fast, even dehydration.
This dehydrator has a 4-1/2 inch fan that adds to the speed and power of the drying process, making for more nutritious drying. It is four times faster than dehydrators without a fan or motor. In addition, the Vita-Save Exterior blocks out light, which helps retain a good share of the nutrients and vitamins in your food during the dehydration process. You also do not need to rotate trays with this food dehydrator, which is a real plus for busy people. Another benefit is the fact that you can dry different kinds of foods at the same time and one flavor won't ruin the taste of another food, which is not true of every dehydrator on the market.
Depending on what you are drying, the process can be completed in hours instead of days. As with most food dehydrators, you'll no doubt want to experiment with drying times until you get the results you like. The user manual that comes with this machine recommends 4-10 hours to dry apple slices, 10-18 hours for whole cranberries, and 6-14 hours for 1-inch slices of rhubarb. The size of the food you're drying and the amount of moisture in it, as well many other factors, can influence the length of time it takes to fully dehydrate foods.
The included 47-page manual offers easily understood instructions, safety tips, recipes and even ideas for such things as drying flowers and bread dough ornaments. Along with the manual, you get one solid tray to make fruit leather and one mesh tray, along with a packet of jerky spice and cure seasonings. You can purchase additional trays and different types of jerky seasonings online from Open Country, as well as jerky guns, which are devices you fill with ground meat and seasonings and then carefully squirt out lengths of jerky for drying. The company also sells two dehydration cookbooks.
- Overall Performance
- Even Drying/Food Texture
- Adjustable Thermostat Range