Open Country Dehydrator
In this review we are going to look at a budget dehydrator – the Open Country dehydrator. This is an entry level dehydrator, aimed at anyone who is looking for an affordable model. It is competing against some of the bigger brands, so how does it measure up? Does it set itself apart from the competition? Keep on reading to find out more.
The very first thing we noticed about this dehydrator is the design. It appears virtually identical to the Nesco FD-75PR Snackmaster Pro, all except for the logo. In fact if we put them side by side without the logos, we could not tell which was which to be honest. So after doing a little research, the reason for this soon became apparent. Open Country is owned by a brand called Metal Ware, who also own and release products under the Nesco brand. So essentially the Open Country dehydrator is simply a rebranded Nesco FD-75R, or vice versa. The only major difference between the two is that the Nesco has a slightly smaller motor (600w) while this one has a more powerful 700w motor. We have already reviewed the Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC so we were expecting similar results, nonetheless we decided to push on and put this one to the test to see if there was any major difference between the two.
First up lets take a look at the aesthetics of the machine. This is a round style dehydrator, which seems to be the common shape for budget dehydrators. The exterior of the trays are covered in a white & granite color. According to the website the granite exterior helps to prevent sunlight getting into the machine, which prevents the loss of key minerals and nutrients. The lid and handle have a mixture have a dark green trim, which contrasts quite nicely with the granite exterior. On the top is a quick reference guide, showing the recommended temperatures for drying certain types of food. The logo is directly under the handle, and overall it is a fairly decent design. The similar Nesco dehydrator is a little bland since it has grey trimmings, and we feel the Open Country dehydrator is a more fetching model. The temperature range is between 95-155F, giving you the ability to dehydrate a wide range of food. There is no timer on this machine, or a on/off switch, but you generally don’t find those on any cheaper models.
This model has the patented Converga-Flow system. This kind of technology claims to better distribute heat throughout the trays. This model has the fan mounted at the top of the unit, which in our experience a far better design than the bottom rated units. For those of you who don’t know much about dehydrators, a common problem with stack able models is that the trays near the fan often dry out faster than the trays furthest from the fan. A easy fix for this is to rotate the trays during the drying cycle, but hopefully the Converga-Flow technology will help eliminate some of this hassle. With this model you get 5 trays with your purchase. According to the website you can expand this model to up to 14 trays in total, but since it is a stack able model, we feel that any more than 10 trays will not be worth the trouble. Also included is one clean-a-screen for smaller items such as herbs, and one fruit roll screen. We would have liked to perhaps seem two of each of these, but they can always be bought separately if needed. A handy instruction booklet & recipe guide is included, helping you to make the most out of your purchase. Now lets take a look at how well this machine actually performs.
Given that most folks like to dehydrate a range of meats and vegetables, it only seems fair that we test both to see how the machine will cope with them. We decided to start off this test with some beef jerky as that is always a firm favorite to dehydrate. We decided to do around 3lbs, which comfortably filled four trays. After checking up on the progress after 2 hours, things were looking good. 3 hours into the dehydration procedure we looked in again, paying careful attention to the top and bottom trays. The top trays were looking in good shape, and the bottom trays were a little softer. After 5 hours we looked at the progress again, and the top trays were nearing completion. The bottom trays were still a bit soft, and we could see that if we had rotated the trays around 3 hours in, we would have ended up with evening dried beef jerky. After 6 hours we were satisfied with the top two trays, and removed them. The bottom two trays we left for another 30 minutes, and this game them enough time to catch up. The finished jerky looked really good, and our taste test confirmed that it tasted as good as it looked!
Next up we decided to do some vegetables. Sliced tomatoes was our choice of vegetable this time, and we loaded up 5 full trays of sliced tomatoes. We gave them a good 3 hours before we took a look, and things were looking promising. After 5 hours we checked up on them again, and we could see that bottom trays were dehydrating a little slower than the top ones. At this point we rotated the trays, and left them for another hour. After around 7 hours our tomatoes were all done, and the results were really scrumptious. We like to sprinkle them with a tiny bit of salt, and they sure do make a healthy and nutritious snack. 7 hours in total is a decent drying time, so things were looking good.
One last test we decided to do was with some fruit. Apple and banana slices are fairly quick and easy to do, so we opted to give these a test in the Open Country dehydrator. We tested two trays of apples, and two trays of bananas to see how long it would take to dehydrate them. After 5 hours our two trays of apple slices at the top were looking good, and the banana slices were still a little soft. 6 hours in we removed the apple slices, and the banana slices took another 90 minutes to finish off. Both fruits tasted wonderful, and drying times were more or less average for a 700w dehydrator .
We were quite impressed with the Open Country dehydrator. Drying times were good, and the retail price of $99.99 makes it quite affordable. Like most stack able dehydrators, you will need to rotate trays if you are dehydrating with more than four at a time, but this is a common issue with these cheaper models, so we can’t take too many points off for that. Overall this is a decent affordable dehydrator, and is a good machine to start out on before moving onto something bigger and better.
- Well priced
- Looks good
- Decent drying times
- Nice recipe guide included
- Need to rotate trays
Summary: This is a decent economical dehydrator, and it is a good way to get into dehydrating food. Like most stack able dehydrators you will need to rotate trays, but the Open Country dehydrator does a better job than most of distributing the heat. At the time of writing this model was on sale on Amazon, and you can go here to see if it is still on special.