Product Review

If you're like me, you enjoy sprinkling your recipes with a wide variety of dehydrated fruits and veggies. However, these items can often be quite expensive or hard to find at your local grocery store. All the same, adding robust dried tomatoes to a homemade pizza or dried cranberries to your favorite quick bread can give them just the burst of flavor you crave.

Enter the American Harvest Snackmaster Dehydrator 2400.

This neat appliance allows you to dry foods in the comfort of your own home. You can make everything from dried banana chips to fruit leathers (or roll-ups) to dried basil. My husband and I got one for Christmas from my parents and we've worked hard to give it an ample test run. If you are thinking about getting one of your own, I hope you'll find our findings and suggestions helpful.

In this review, you'll find comments and tips on drying fruit, making fruit leather, drying vegetables, and some other uses of this particular dehydrator. While I avoid giving specific recipes, I have given tips on how to avoid common problems. Part of the fun of drying foods is being creative about how you do it! At the end of each section is a table which lists some useful drying information for a variety of items.

While I found no problems using the dehydrator, I would suggest you either get used to the sound of it running for several hours (it sounds similar to a microwave) or find a place to run it where you will not be bothered by the noise.

Drying Fruit

Dried fruit makes for a great snack, especially when camping or working in the outdoors. It's light and packed with flavor. So far, we've tried drying apples, bananas, grapefruit, oranges, cranberries, and pineapple. I think I liked the consistency of the apples best, although adding sliced grapefruit or oranges to a punch bowl does add a bit of flair to a festive event!

When dehydrating fruits, the biggest job you have is often the preparation. Citrus fruits contain ascorbic acid and don't require intense preparation; they can be sliced and peeled (if desired) and placed on a drying tray. Other fruits, such as apples and pears, need to be soaked in a pretreating solution to keep them from browning during drying. I use a simple solution of lemon juice and water in a 1:5 ratio. Bananas and cranberries, like citrus fruits, do not need to be pretreated and can be sliced and placed on a drying tray. The normal drying temperature for most fruits is 135 degrees Farenheit.

Food Preparation Average Drying Time Drying Temperature
Apples Peel, core, cut into half inch rings. Pretreat. 6-10 hours 135 degrees
Bananas Peel, cut into half inch slices. 8-12 hours 135 degrees
Citrus Fruits Slice into half inch pieces, peel if desired. 8-12 hours 135 degrees
Cranberries Slice in half. 8-12 hours 135 degrees
Pineapple Arrange canned rings on tray. 8-12 hours 135 degrees
To purchase an American Harvest dehydrator, click here
. Making Fruit Leather

If you can puree fruit, then you can make fruit leathers using the Snackmaster Dehydrator 2400. Like drying fruits, the normal temperature is 135 degrees Farenheit. In a blender, combine fruits to make a flavor you like. Some neat combinations include:

  • Apple-Orange-Banana
  • Cranberry-Apple-Plum
  • Strwaberry-Banana
  • Raspberry-Apple

Be creative about making your fruit purees. You can add a little corn syrup or honey, but this is not usually necessary. If you want to add a little flair to your fruit leathers, sprinkle some coconut, nuts or seeds on them before they are dry. I was in a hurry one morning and used a jar of cranberry applesauce to make some fruit leathers and they were fantastic! It's a nice way to cut the time involved in making them too.

Food Preparation Average Drying Time Drying Temperature
Fruit Leathers Pour fruit puree onto a Fruit Roll-up Sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. 6-10 hours 135 degrees
Drying Vegetables

Dried vegetables can add variety to your meals. Once dried, they tend to hold their robust flavors, even after being rehydrated. I've tried tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, green peppers, and carrots so far. I have been very pleased with the results. The tomatoes have become a new favorite of my husband's. Because most vegetables are a bit tougher than fruits, most of them require some blanching in water before they are dried. As with anything you dehydrate, you can add special seasonings to vegetables to create an extra kick in your veggie chips! The usual drying temperature for most vegetables is 130 degrees Farenheit. A warning with drying onions--the aroma travels well. You might want to place your dehydrator on the porch for this one!

Food Preparation Average Drying Time Drying Temperature
Carrots Blanch half inch slices. 8-12 hours 130 degrees
Mushrooms Clean with a cloth--don't wash. 5-10 hours 85 degrees for the first 2 hours, 125 degrees for the remaining time
Onions Slice into quarter inch coins. 8-12 hours 130 degrees
Peppers Chop or slice into strips. 6-12 hours 130 degrees
Potatoes Slice an eighth of an inch thick and blanch for 5 minutes. 9-12 hours 130 degrees
Tomatoes Slice into half inch circles. 8-12 hours 130 degrees
To purchase an American Harvest dehydrator, click here
. Other Uses

While there are countless uses for a good dehydrator, I find one of the best is its ability to dry fresh herbs and spices. I grow many herbs myself and used to hang them out to dry. Now, I can put them in the dehydrator for a couple of hours and they're ready to use! The usual drying temperature for most herbs and spices is under 100 degrees Farenheit.

Food Preparation Average Drying Time Drying Temperature
Basil Rinse in cold water. 2-3 hours 100 degrees
Chili Peppers Rinse and dice. 6-12 hours 100 degrees
Chives Rinse. 2-3 hours 95 degrees
Dill Rinse in cold water. 2-3 hours 100 degrees
Garlic Cut in half lengthwise. 8-12 hours 120 degrees
Mint Rinse in cold water. 2-3 hours 100 degrees
Parsley Rinse. 2-3 hours 100 degrees
To purchase an American Harvest dehydrator, click here