Guest Writer: Ryan R.
Lions and tigers and bears! Nope. But the NESCO “food and jerky” Dehydrator (model FD-37)
aptly handled venison in the form of both deer and elk, morel mushrooms, bananas, apples and
strawberries – Oh yes! When dehydrating food these are a few of my favorite things.
While dehydrating certainly involves science and perhaps even art, it’s a simple process –
separate the liquid from the solids. The only difficulty or tedium here is food preparation
(methods are included in the thorough and colorful recipe and instruction book) and the laying
out of pieces one by one onto the trays. Though true survival may not be imminent, it’s still a
dandy way to preserve food and it sure makes for diverse and tasty eats! Foods do not
preserve well in my household. Lol
This won’t be a true comparison, but I did have the luxury of using the NESCO “food and jerky”
Dehydrator in tandem with a PRESTO “Dehydro digital electric Food Dehydrator” and will just
provide some honest context.
The NESCO dehydrator is quite rudimentary – an electric fan-driven heating element operated
with only an on/off switch. Time to begin! I lovingly filled the 4 trays (included) with fresh,
mountain morels (forage location not included). I hit “play”, went to do some other things and
forgot all about it. With morels there is not much worry about overdrying. Not always the case
with other foods. The PRESTO dehydrator has a programmable timer and temperature setting
which can be advantageous yet not always necessary. With these mushrooms the basic
NESCO did well and I now have a good amount of product ready to be reconstituted perhaps at
Thanksgiving or Christmas?
Now, home campfire burger night!. I had seasoned some frozen patties into teriyaki burgers –
eek! Burger snobs don’t judge! With a large family frozen burgers have become a very
convenient choice every now and then 🙂. The empty NESCO began calling my name and I got
an idea… dehydrate a burger! I cut a patty into strips and into the dehydrator it went. A few
hours later I had dried teriyaki flavored beef strips that were exceptionally tasty! The liquid was
gone but the dried meat was still a little fatty, but good fatty – like succulent.
Now I’m hungry! Off to the meat freezer I go for some mule deer, and elk.
The NESCO did come with a handy jerky seasoning kit for 2 lb of meat. I had defrosted over 4
lb of meat and just used my own trusted marinade for the remainder. It was necessary to use
both dehydrators. I set the timer on the PRESTO unit for 10 hours, the temp. at 160 and
operated both units. Voila! Many trays full of nicely dehydrated yet still pleasantly chewy meat.
What can I say? My family and I are suckers for good jerky and once again the little NESCO
Play by play for the dehydrating of the apples and bananas and strawberries would be
redundant, except to say that they didn’t even make it into a storage container!
I have been a dehydrating food for several days now 🙂 It’s time to talk about cleaning and
storage of the unit!
I must admit I’ve been looking forward to this stage 🙂. The NESCO
consists of a standalone base which is basically like a platter, 4 trays (additional trays sold
separately) and the top which also houses the heating unit. For cleanup and storage, just clean
the trays and the base. It can all be conveniently stored in its original box and you’re done. The
trays take a little extra work if you do not have a dishwasher. A good soak and a kitchen brush
might be your best option.
The bottom line is that this is a brilliant little machine which does exactly what it claims to do –
quickly and efficiently. The price is certainly right as well at $49.49 on their website. There are 4 (13 1/2″ diameter) trays but you can expand to 7 for even more dehydrating needs. Total dimensions for the NESCO FD-37 Clear Cover Food & Jerky Dehydrator is 10 × 15 × 15 in and empty, weighs 5 lbs. The original package includes a Jerky Seasoning & Cure sample and a 52-page recipe & instruction book.
Our family recommends this to the foragers, hunters and gathers, college kids and lovers of food.