Do you enjoy saving money in the kitchen?
And how about the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family is enjoying healthy snacks made with natural ingredients, free of any additives or preservatives?
If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions, then you might want to check out the advantages of dehydrating your own food. Economical and easy to do, preserving foods through dehydration is another healthy method that’s available to you to complement canning and freezing.
Dehydrating foods comes with a particular advantage over other preserving techniques. Drying foods results in a loss of weight and volume, making them easy to pack and carry – perfect for the briefcase, lunch pail, backpack, or taking on a road trip.
In this review we’re going to take a close look at the Presto 6301 Dehydro Digital Electric Food Dehydrator, a very popular stacking model. Let’s determine if this appliance is going to deliver the advertised goods as promised.
The Presto Dehydro uses a stacking six-tray system for drying fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices as well as making great-tasting jerky and fruit rolls.
The heating element and fan are located in the base of the unit, along with the clear digital display panel. Expandable to 12 trays for added drying capacity, the trays also nest when not in use, offering a clever solution for storage and reducing its operating size by over 40%.
With a Stop/Start button, a programmable timer, and an adjustable thermostat, this model offers convenience as well as efficient operation.
The 750 watts of power effectively produce enough heat and air circulation to evenly dry all ingredients on the BPA-free, food-safe plastic trays.
Features and Benefits
You can set the adjustable digital thermostat to temperatures between 90 and 165°F to regulate the exact amount of heated air flowing over the trays for consistent and even drying, with no need to rotate the trays.
The convenient plus and minus (+/-) buttons will increase or decrease the temperature at any time while it’s in use, with one-touch controls.
The electronic timer can be set anywhere from a minimum of 30 minutes up to 48 hours. This offers precise drying times, and it will automatically shut off the dehydrator when the time runs out – so you can set it and forget it if you are an experienced food preserver, with no need hover over this model. If more time is needed for drying, simply reset the timer.
A convenient Stop/Start button means one-finger operation without the hassle of having to plug in and unplug the unit whenever you want to check its progress.
The bottom-mounted fan and heating element provide consistent air low for optimum drying, with no rotation of trays needed. And the base unit also includes a niche for cord storage, a nice added touch.
The Dehydro includes six drying trays, as well as two fruit roll-up sheets and two nonstick mesh screens. It can expand to hold up to 12 trays, and a see-through cover on the top tray lets you monitor drying as it progresses.
This model will automatically shut off after 48 hours to prevent any overheating problems from arising.
The trays are dishwasher safe on the top shelf, with air drying only.
The Dehydro also comes with a well-written and comprehensive user’s manual, with useful tips to prepare and create the best dried fruits, vegetables, and jerky.
It also comes with Presto’s limited 1-year warranty. And, it includes starter packs of jerky cure and spices. Pick it up on Amazon, save some cash, and have it delivered to your door with minimal hassle.
The Presto Dehydro measures 14.5 by 15 by 7 inches out of the box with the trays nested, and it weighs 8.5 pounds. With the trays assembled in drying position, the total height is 15 inches.
Each of the drying trays has a surface diameter of approximately 12 inches, minus the 2-inch cut-out in the center.
The rays can be washed in the dishwasher on the top shelf only, on the gentle cycle and set to air dry – meaning with no heat. Or, wash them in warm soapy water.
Wipe the electrical base clean with a damp cloth.
The following is a summary of the most common points found in the many customer reviews on Amazon, both good and bad:
- Satisfied shoppers report that the easy operation of this model makes it a pleasure to use, and its design makes it very functional – easy to set up, operate, and clean. And, the even airflow produces the desired dried delectables without needing to rotate trays.
- The adjustable thermostat is another feature that is mentioned favorably, with reports of it being very user friendly. The ability to adjust temperatures with one touch as drying progresses makes operation simple.
- The timer gets big kudos – it’s easy to set, and allows you to go about your business while the dryer works. And it’s programmable for up to 48 hours, which is more than ample time for even the most difficult pieces to dry.
- Another positive feature is the relatively small footprint on the countertop and in the storage cupboard, and users appreciate the storage savings provided by the nesting trays.
- The entire unit is easy to clean, as the trays can go in the dishwasher on gentle (top shelf) and the base wipes down easily with a damp cloth.
- In general, food dehydrators are not the quietest pieces of kitchenware as the fan needs to run constantly to maintain adequate airflow. The consensus with the Dehydro is that fan noise is noticeable, but not overwhelming – comparisons are made to a hood fan over the kitchen range, or an exhaust fan in the bathroom. Many customers set it up at night and let it run while they sleep to reduce the impact of the noise.
- Of the unhappy customers, most report the fan or heater stopped working shortly after purchase. Annoying to be sure, but Presto’s customer service team seems to take care of exchanges promptly, with quick and easy replacements.
The manual contains guidelines and drying times for a variety of foods, but it is important to note that these are guidelines rather than strict and fast rules, and they apply in optimal conditions. Expect to employ some trial and error for drying times to compensate for local conditions such as air temperature, humidity, the size of the food being dried, and the moisture that it contains.
Prepare the trays after dinner and let the dryer run at night while you sleep. Most pieces will be done in the morning when you wake, depending on what you are processing, and it’s a good way to minimize the impact of fan noise. Just be sure not to add items that may dry too quickly and scorch if left unattended!
Make Snacks and Shelf-Stable Ingredients Like Magic
The Presto Dehydro seems to have earned its accolades on Amazon. An efficient and reliable dehydrator that performs well with minimum supervision, this appliance also comes in a convenient size that’s suitable for the home food drying enthusiast.
- Included Accessories
- Build Quality
A good machine for the price with great customer service from the manufacturer, though the warranty period could be longer. Buy this machine if you are are on a significant budget or need something for occasional use – and note that it may not be the best choice for a heavy user.
The 750 watts of power provide all the heat and air movement needed to dry ingredients thoroughly when it’s fully loaded, although it may struggle some if additional trays are purchased and added as well.
Just load it up, turn on the timer, and go about your business – this hassle-free and efficient model from Presto will take care of the rest.
The only real negative with this product? It doesn’t have the most robust construction. Expect three or four seasons of use and be prepared to replace it. We prefer the more pricey Excalibur 3926 series models for the best bang for your buck, in terms of price in comparison with longevity. The Excalibur is a product that will last for 20 years or more.
Want even more choices? Check out all of our food dehydrator reviews now!
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.