How to Use Nesco Dehydrators for Drying Food

Round and white Nesco food dehydrator
Nesco food dehydrators are easy to use and feature expandable stackable trays. This allows different types of food to be dehydrated at the same time. Due to their temperature range, they are particularly useful for dehydrating meat and making jerky.

How Does a Nesco Food Dehydrator Work?

Nesco food dehydrators work by raising the temperature inside the machine using a heating element. This is similar to how an oven works, but rather than raising the temperature high enough to cook food, a Nesco food dehydrator produces warm air and operates at a consistent, low temperature.

This warm air is then circulated around the machine using a Converga-Flow fan for an extended period of time. Rather than cooking the food, this airflow process draws moisture from the food, reducing the water content and preserving the food for long periods of time.

How Long Does it Take to Dry Food in a Nesco Food Dehydrator?

General drying guidelines vary based on the capacity of the model, but most food can be dried in 6-10 hours.

The Metal Ware Corporation has a range of Nesco food dehydrators available, including the Nesco Snackmaster Pro, the Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator, and the Nesco FD-75PR. The lower the wattage of a particular model, the longer it will take to dehydrate food.

Be sure to follow Nesco’s vegetable drying guidelines and fruit drying guidelines to ensure your food is properly dehydrated. Keep in mind that dried fruits take longer than dried vegetables, and drying jerky will take longer than drying herbs. The following chart shows the dehydrating times for common foods using a Nesco dehydrator:

Common FoodsDrying Time
Apples7 – 15 hours
Bananas6 – 10 hours
Beef Jerky4 – 6 hours
Blueberries10 – 15 hours
Carrots6 – 10 hours
Fish Jerky12 – 14 hours
Fruit Leather4 – 6 hours
Herbs2 – 4 hours
Kiwi6 – 12 hours
Mushrooms3 – 7 hours
Potatoes6 – 14 hours
Pumpkin12 – 14 hours
Venison Jerky3 – 5 hours
Zucchini7 – 11 hours

What are the Benefits of a Nesco Food Dehydrator?

There are many benefits to using a Nesco dehydrator including:

  • Add-Ons: Nesco offers several add-on products for their food dehydrators. If you need additional trays, consider their Add-A-Tray products. If you are drying smaller items that might fall through the spokes of the trays, you can purchase the ‘Clean-A-Screen’ (a mesh screen for small food items). If you want to make fruit leather, fruit roll sheets are available.
  • Cost: Due to the wide range of products available from Nesco, it is easy to find an option that suits your budget. Most Nesco dehydrators cost less than $100!
  • Customer Satisfaction: Nesco dehydrator reviews speak for themselves, with an average rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon.
  • Easy to Use: The adjustable thermostat offers excellent temperature control, and it’s easy to change the temperature settings.
  • Versatile: Nesco dehydrators are versatile due to their stackable dehydrator trays. This gives the option to load different types of food onto different trays for efficiency!
  • Warranty: Nesco dehydrators come with a limited 1-year warranty which offers peace of mind.

Do You Have to Use All the Trays in a Nesco Dehydrator?

A great thing about Nesco’s food dehydrators is that they are removable. You do not need to use every tray when using a Nesco dehydrator.

Nesco recommends that you keep at least four trays in the stack, even if some are empty, to help with even heat distribution.

Is a Nesco Food Dehydrator and Jerky Maker the Same Thing?

Nesco food dehydrators and jerky makers are not the same things, but both can be used to dehydrate a range of dried products.

If the primary use for your food dehydrator is making dried meats and jerky, you may want to consider the Nesco Jerky Xpress, which comes with a jerky gun and a higher temperature setting.

Can You Leave a Nesco Dehydrator on Overnight?

Many people leave food dehydrators on overnight because it can take several hours for food to dehydrate. This is generally considered safe, but as with any electrical device, it is imperative to follow important safeguards and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Jack Fairey

Jack is a writer and keen foodie based in London, England. When he's not writing, he can be found in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes for him and his partner to enjoy!

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