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Nesco brings their expertise from years of experience developing home appliances. As one of the leading manufacturers of in home kitchen appliances, Nesco, offers some of the best dehydrators for the price on the market today.
The Gardenmaster Fd-1040 is a perfect example of this engineering and dedication to quality.
Nesco FD-1040 1000-watt Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator available on Amazon
This model can handle the large amount fruits and vegetables that a large home garden can produce. Customers have come to expect great, reliable products when they invest in the Nesco brand and this particular model maintains an impressive user review rating on Amazon.
What makes this product even better? It’s made in the USA in the great state of Wisconsin. Yes, Nesco has NOT cheapened out like so many other manufacturers and outsourced everything to China.
Features of the Fd-1040 Gardenmaster
- Digital Timer – Programmable
- Drying Power: 1,000 watts
- Converga-Flow Patented Air Flow
- Temperature Control: Adjustable
- Expandable: Up to 20 Trays
- Programmable Timer
Like more expensive models, the Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster includes a programmable timer that is capable of turning your machine off before your batch is cooked to a crisp.
This is an important feature usually only found in higher end machines and allows you to conduct other activities while your food is drying.
This particular timer is programmable for up to 48 hours and features a digital layout – something that you may or may not prefer.
In my opinion, I would rather see a trusty mechanical dial rather than a digital screen as they are less prone to break, but your preference may be for a more advance display. Regardless, you want a dehydrator with a timer – trust me on this.
1,000 Watts of Power
As we caution in almost all of our reviews and buying guides, wattage should only be used to compare models within any particular brand. In this case, 1,000 Watts is the top end of the Nesco’s dehydrator line which means the Fd-1040 Gardenmaster model has enough oomph to process a large amount of food in one go.
Nesco claims that this model is capable of handling 20 trays at once (it comes with four – extras are available).
Although we did not test this particular model with that many trays, we are confident that 10 to 15 would work very well…although it depends on your food items and the amount of moisture that is trapped inside.
One user on Amazon reported molding issues when using 18 trays; that being said, it is unknown if she allowed adequate separation between her chunks of food.
Top Mounted Fan
Many of the lower priced dehydrators have bottom mounted fans designed to suck air through the trays.
While this “pull” system works better in theory than a top mounted assembly, in the real world juices from the drying food falls onto the fan blades and gunk them up and they are often a chore to clean as there is typically a screen covering.
On cheaper models (the very cheapest offerings don’t even have fans), the liquids can run into the actual motor and destroy it, leaving you with an expensive piece of plastic.
Want to know the best part?
The Nesco Fd-1040 Gardenmaster has eliminated this problem by incorporating a powerful 2,400 RPM fan motor on top of the unit which eliminates any worries about drips or liquids.
Converga-Flow Patented Air Flow
Nesco states that the Conferga-Flow design allows for heated air to flow under pressure down the device’s exterior chamber where it spreads across each tray before it returns up the center “chimney” to be reheated.
Nesco claims that this system allows you to dry up 20 trays with no reshuffling of trays as the pressure automatically adjusts to how many trays you have loaded.
In real world testing, if you have that many trays you may stacked on the machine, you may need to re-shuffle them around a time or two but not nearly as often as you would on a cheaper appliance.
Nesco also states that the Converga-Flow system prevents flavors from mixing but we did not test the machine with different food items to verify.
Speaking of trays – many reviewers on Amazon complained about the fact that only four are included and felt Nesco should have provided more in the included kit.
The ability to adjust the heat range is a critical component to a quality dehydrator and Gardenmaster features a thermostat that adjusts from 90 degree to 160 degree Fahrenheit.
This allows you to dial all the way down for optimal drying of fruits and scaling all the way up to quickly dry jerky before it has a chance to develop mold or pick up a load of bad bacteria.
This is a feature that you need in any dehydrating device and the cheapest models do not offer it. You shouldn’t even consider a machine that has a fixed temperature.
The Fd-1040 Gardenmaster ships with a four trays, a 52-page instruction and recipe book, one solid “No Spill” Fruit Roll sheet designed for drying gooey substances, one flexible mesh “Clean-a-screen” that allows you to dehydrate smaller items such as potpourri and herbs and spices, and one packet of jerky spices for beef/venison jerky.
Many consumers opt to purchase extra trays and some users also purchase extra mesh sheets (although these mesh sheets aren’t listed for the specifically for the Fd-1040 model, they fit – it’s just an old product description). If you are really into fruit roll ups, you may also consider some extra flexible sheets. The Jerky Spice Cure is also available both in the original flavor and in the hot and spicy variety.
If you like the ground meat style of jerky, you could also consider the Nesco BJX-8 Jumbo Jerky Works Kit that allows you to “squirt” your way to jerky making success.
- Ease of Use
Construction – We appreciate that the plastics used are BHP free but with the exclusion of the BHP, the thinner plastic material that that they used is NOT all that robust. We wonder how long this dehydrator will last.
A couple of seasons? Five years? Either way, we don’t feel that it will survive as nearly as long as a beefy Excalibur – either in the robust plastic build or the newer stainless steel varieties.
We love the fact that this machine is constructed in the USA but so is the better built Excalibur (albeit at 2 – 3x the price). We also liked the top mounted fan which is a much design than those on the bottom.
Performance – No issues at all with this machine. This machine passes a copious amount of heated air throughout its trays. Unfortunately, we don’t possess an instrument capable of measuring airflow in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM).
However, in “seat of the pants” testing, we believe the the FD1040’s CFM rate to be significant and is good as the lower wattage Excalibur models. While a (very) few users on Amazon reported that it took much longer than stated by Nesco to dehydrate their food, we feel that they may not have properly loaded their machines.
An air space left around each piece is critical for any dehydrator to properly function. This machine performs very well.
Ease of Use – This appliance is fairly simple. First, prep your food – this is where the work is and is the same process for any drying method.
Secondly, place the food items on the trays. Stack the trays on the base and then pace the heater/fan assembly on the top. Turn on the machine andset your desired temperature and time and your set.
Some of the competition [read Exaclibur] features trays that slide out from the front which are a bit easier to deal with and thus we feel that the Gardenmaster is a solid 4 in this category.
Warranty – The warranty on this machine is nothing to write home about. As with most Nesco products, this dehydrator sports a 1 year limited warranty vs. Excalibur’s 10 year no questions asked policy.
Value – at just over $100 from most retailers and with serious capabilities, the value rating of this machine is a solid 4. Although the thinner plastic construction and short warranty gives pause for concern, the performance is there and this is a great option if you can’t afford a pricier model or want be using it enough to spend more. It’s ideal for someone that makes a few large loads of deer jerky once or twice a year.
Into raw foods or serious prepping? We’d recommend taking a hard look at the Excalibur.
The garden master can dehydrate vegetables, fruits, and many types of meats that people often buy in bulk, on sale, or hunt themselves without breaking the bank to get it done. If you aren’t a serious foodie or paleo zealot than the Nesco Fd-1040 Gardenmaster is probably all that you will ever require in a decent dehydrator.
However, raw foodists and advid hunters would probably be better off paying the piper and upgrading to the 9 Tray Excalibur. “Buy Once, Cry Once.”
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!