Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator Review

American Harvest is a trusted name in US food dehydrators, having patented one of their first non-commercial dehydrators in the 1980’s, when the company was still known as Alternative Pioneering Corporation. The NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator is based on experience that has been gathered over the intervening decades.

Nesco American Harvest FD61WHC Food Dehydrator Review

The Snackmaster® Express has a top mounted fan to avoid the hazard of food or liquid falling into the fan housing, and it has the benefit of the patented Converga-Flow® drying system that creates horizontal, rather than vertical, airflows across each tray so that any mixing of flavors between racks is minimized.

It has an adjustable thermostat for versatility, so that different foods can be dehydrated at the temperature that best suits them. The materials used in the dehydrator are BFA-free and the appliance is attractively styled and easy to use.

The dehydrator is delivered with the ‘All in One’ kit, consisting of 5 jerky spice packs and 5 cure packs, a jerky gun with 3 tips, 2 Fruit Roll sheets, 2 Clean-A-Screen inserts and a user guide containing a recipe book. This means that you can start using the full range of dehydration options from the get-go, from fruit roll-ups to dried fruit and vegetables, and dried herbs to jerky.

This is a very affordable food dehydrator and useful appliance to have in your home, and the ‘All in one’ kit is a real bonus!

1. Safety

The exterior walls of the NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator trays are made of opaque ‘Vita-save®’ material that prevents light reaching and affecting the nutrient content of the food being dehydrated.

The dehydrator’s food contact surfaces are made of BPA-free ABS plastic. Racks can be cleaned in the dishwasher (take trays out before the drying cycle to avoid the possibility of warping).

Although the Dehydrator is modular from 1 to 12 trays, the User’s Manual recommends that the unit not be operated with less than 4 trays in place.

2. History

The National Enameling and Stamping Company, NESCO, had its origins in Wisconsin in the1930’s and has been a trusted household name for many years. In 1981, NESCO was purchased by The Metal Ware Corporation, which also originated in Wisconsin in the 1920’s, and has a history of manufacturing quality electrical cooking appliances, and purchased the assets of American Harvest – which had patented food dehydrators since the 1980’s as Alternative Pioneering Corporation, Inc. – in 1997.

The NESCO American Harvest Food Dehydrator fan, motor and lid are manufactured in China, judging by the Chinese characters in the label, but it is an affordable appliance built to US standards.

3. Warranty

The NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator carries a one year unconditional warranty. This does not, however, extend to the accessories, such as the jerky gun.

4. Capacity

The NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator is delivered with five 13” diameter trays, each with an estimated drying area of 120 square inches, or 0.83 sq. ft., and a total drying capacity of about 4 sq. ft. With the maximum number of 12 trays installed, the drying capacity increases to just under 10 sq. ft.

5. Features:

5.1. Patented Converga-Flow® Drying System

The Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator’s patented Converge-Flow® drying system forces air down through the exterior pressurized chamber, then horizontally across each tray into the center column, rather than down through the trays. This prevents flavor-mixing, reduces drying times, and does away with the need to rotate trays.

5.2. Clean-A-Screen® Inserts

The Clean-A-Screen® flexible screens can be flexed to enable easy removal of sticky fruits, and can hold small items like spices and herbs that would fall between the spokes of the tray. This is a very useful feature, as many dehydrators in the same price bracket lack this essential item, which must usually be purchased separately.

5.3. Fruit Roll Sheets

Fruit Roll Sheets with their ‘no-spill’ lips can be used to dry liquids and semi-liquids such as pureed fruit to make fruit leather. It is recommended that they be lightly oiled before use to make the ‘fruit leather’ easier to remove.

5.4. Expandable

The unit is expandable from the 5 stackable trays supplied to a maximum of 12 trays (the seven extra trays must be purchased separately). The space between trays is about 1”.

5.5. Adjustable Thermostat

The Snackmaster® Express, like the Snackmaster® Pro, has a variable thermostat which allows the temperature of the dehydrator to be set at different levels, according to the type of food being dried. This is a big plus for many users, especially those who like to produce ‘natural’ dried foods, where the drying temperature does not exceed 118°F, in order to avoid damaging the nutrients and enzymes contained within the foodstuff.

5.6. Included in Shipping

The NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator is delivered with the ‘All in one’ kit, consisting of 2 Fruit Roll sheets, 2 Clean-A-Screen inserts, 5 jerky spice and cure packs, a jerky gun with 3 tips perfect dehydrator for making jerky, and a user guide containing a recipe book.

6. Thermostat Range

The NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator’s thermostat has a temperature range of 95°F to 160°F. The high end of the temperature range allows the safe dehydration of meat to produce jerky (155°F - 160°F).

7. Power Consumption

The NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator’s heating element has a power rating 500W.

The appliance is designed to run on the North American supply voltage of 120V AC.

8. Dimensions and Color

The NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator has the following dimensions:

  • Height: 11”
  • Width: 13”
  • Depth: 13”

The appliance is available in two colors; Gray or White.

9. Pros and Cons

PROS

  • Variable temperature control from 95°F to 160°F
  • Expandable to 12 trays⎫ Costs less than $100
  • Includes ‘All in one’ kit with jerky gun and 3 nozzles
  • Top mounted fan for safety from dripping liquids
  • Versatile with provision for dehydrating large and small foodstuffs, as well as liquids
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble
  • Easy to clean
  • Quiet operation

CONS

  • No timer or automatic shut off system
  • No on-off switch, the unit must be unplugged after use.
  • Need to lift stackable trays to monitor food, interrupting the airflow.

10. Customer Reviews

Customer reviews for the NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator are overwhelmingly positive. Several buyers noted that it was quieter than other dehydrators they had owned, and many appreciated the ‘All in one’ kit that accompanies the dehydrator.

The only significant complaint was that some customers felt that the food took longer than expected to dehydrate, which is to be expected, however, as this unit only has 500W of heating power, compared with the 600W of power found in most similar sized dehydrators.

Another relatively regular complaint related to the lack of a timer or on – off switch, but this is common with many of the dehydrators in this range, and can be remedied by installing a plug-in wall timer with its own built-in power switch.

Conclusion

If you are keen to get started with food dehydration, and want to hit the ground running, then the NESCO American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator with its ‘All in one’ kit, is a great way to go.

The positives heavily outweigh any perceived drawbacks from the lack of a timer and on – off switch. The lower power heater needs to be taken into account when considering how much you want out of your dehydrator, but if you are looking for higher performance in the same affordability range, remember that you will need to pay up for all the extras that are included with the Snackmaster® Express, but not with other products.

So in conclusion this is a worthwhile purchase for what you will be getting out of it.

Summary
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Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster® Express Food Dehydrator
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