Published on February 8th, 2010 | by Greg0
On Mango Cravings and the Utility of the Snackmaster Express
I’ve had a serious craving for mangoes recently. Sadly, it seems that mangoes don’t come into season locally here until August, which means that I have five long months to go until I can get my hands on a juicy, peppery, sweet mango. Now, mangoes don’t freeze well, nor are they well suited for canning. Pretty much the mango options are eating them fresh, pickling them (think mango chutney or li hing) or drying them. Which brings me to the cool gadget for the day, Nesco’s Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator, which can be used for dehydrating all kinds of food, not just lovely mangoes.
In fact, the overwhelming staff-favorite use for this dehydrator is beef jerky, which takes only a few hours thanks to the way the heating element and fan are set up. The thermostat is adjustable, allowing to dry foods between temperatures of 95-155Âº F. The fan is mounted on the top of the dehydrator, and it has a drying system that forces hot air across the food instead of down, which speeds up the process a bit. The exterior of the dehydrator is opaque, which blocks light that can cause nutrients in fruits and vegetables to be destroyed, so the idea is that your food is actually healthier with this dehydrator than with other dehydrators. We have no accurate way to measure nutritional content, but can attest that the food we dried was tasty.
The Snackmaster Express is round, with a central chamber, which is the type of dehydrator most people will be familiar with. (If you’re looking for a slightly less conventional dehydrator check out this one.) It came to us with four trays, and has the capability of expanding up to 12 trays. One of the more interesting things we tried out this time around with the dehydrator was flowers. Make sure you know your plants if you’re drying flowers with the intention of consuming them, but we found that the dehydrator served as a good method for preserving non-edible flowers as well. The color holds far truer than if you just hang them upside down to dry.
Fruit roll-ups were another yummy experiment, using the recipe that came in the booklet with the Snackmaster. Homemade fruit snacks certainly are a preferable alternative to the HFCS-laden snacks that are commonly found at grocery stores, and far more economically priced. Of course we’re always on the lookout for ways to eat healthier, and the convenience of truly portable food like dehydrated fruits, veggies and meats, has a compelling appeal.
We found that clean-up was quite simple, and putting it back together was not a problem at all. Overall, a good value for the cost, which is around $65, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this for anyone looking to explore dehydration as a good food option. You can find the Snackmaster Express online directly from Nesco or on Amazon. As for me personally, this will be invaluable when my beloved mangoes finally come back into season, and I will make sure that I dehydrate enough to last a good long while!