Nesco American Harvest FD-1010 Gardenmaster
Nesco touts the FD-1010 Gardenmaster as their top of the line model, and most users seem to agree. Out of the box, the Gardenmaster Pro comes with 1000 watts of drying power, a 4.5 inch fan, varying temperature control, and four stackable trays with four feet of drying space.
At 15.5" in diameter and 10" high, the Nesco Gardenmaster Pro is relatively compact and will fit easily on most countertops, though it is round, which doesn't make for the most efficient use of space. According to the manufacturer, the dryer has a white "Vita-Save Exterior" which prevents light from causing nutrient loss during the drying process.
A Round Dehydrator with Horizontal Airflow
Cosmetic differences aside, food dehydrators come in two main varieties: units with vertical versus horizontal airflow. The Nesco Gardenmaster is the horizontal flow type, with a fan on the bottom that forces heated air up along an exterior pressurized chamber and then out across each tray.
One advantage of horizontal flow units is that heating tends to be more even and drying more uniform. Another advantage is there is less chance of mixing flavors and aromas between trays, so your bananas don't smell like apricots, or vice-versa.
Fast Facts about the Nesco FD-1010
- 1000-watt motor
- Horizontal (Convergaflow) airflow
- Four stacked trays (expandable to 30)
- Includes fruit roll sheet (soups, applesauce) insert and "clean a screen" (small items like seeds) insert
- Drying pressure adjusts to the number of trays present
- Adjustable thermostat ranging from 95 - 155 F
- Includes 52-page instruction and recipe booklet
- One year warranty against defect
- MSRP: $149.99
Starting with what the Nesco FD-1010 does well, this unit comes with a powerful fan, and the horizontal airflow design does dry food evenly and quickly. Most food dehydrators do a good job with the basics, but the Gardenmaster brings more versatility: beef jerky, dried tomatoes, and fruit leathers all turn out consistently well with rarely if ever any burning.
You might find yourself tweaking recipes to account for the unit's idiosyncrasies, but that's going to be true of any food dehydrator, and finding that processing takes less time than expected isn't something you'll generally want to complain about.
Although this is a deluxe dehydrator, the Gardenmaster does have room for improvement, however. A timer would've been helpful, so that once you've figured out those perfect settings, you can set them and walk away without worrying.
A downside of the powerful fan is that it can be noisy if you're doing your processing in a small space. The unit also gives off a good deal of heat, which is a consideration if you're running it in the summer months for long hour-- drying a bumper crop of fresh tomatoes, for instance.
Finally, the Nesco FD-1010 Garden Master can often be found for much less than the MSRP of $149.99, which makes it a good value in comparison to competitors' models, like the pricey L'Equip, or the Excalibur, which is not only more expensive but has a larger countertop footprint.