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Weston 10 Tray Food Dehydrator Review
Dehydrating food is a lost art. If you've never made your own crisp banana chips or teriyaki jerky at home, you're missing out. When you use a dehydrator, you slowly remove moisture from food which concentrates the natural flavor of the food while at the same time keeping the nutritional value because of the low-heat drying method. Once the food is dried, it can become shelf stable for months. A dehydrator is a low-cost investment for your kitchen that can actually save you money. You can make your own jerky, banana chips, sun-dried tomatoes, vegetable soup mixes, and more at home with a dehydrator instead of buying them from the store. Not only can you fill your pantry with tons of dried goods, these can be tastier and you will know exactly what ingredients are going into your food.
Quick Specs: 830W | 10 Plastic Trays 14 ¼" x 10 ¾" | 1-12 hour timer | 95 - 155° F Temperature Range | Rear-Fan System
Best For: Dehydrating large quantities of harvested veggies or jerky during deer season. The trays are large and easy to load; the plastic build is light, so it's easy to get in and out of storage.
- Huge 10 Tray Capacity for Small Price - Dehydrate a large harvest all at once with tons of trays, over 11 sq ft (around 7lb raw jerky)!
- Digital Temperature & Timer - Digital set timer is perfect so you won't over-dry your food. The temperature updates in real-time
- Lightweight - Plastic build makes this an easy-to-move and store dehydrator
- Drawer-tray design easily warps and creates a weak seal to keep heat in; you arn't able to rotate the trays for even drying
- Weston had the highest fluctuation of temperature, dropping 10ºF below or raising above 5ºF the set temperature. This effects the cooking time, making it longer than all our other models we tested
- Only 12 hour timer, some foods take longer than that
Our Testing Phase
We tested a little bit of everything you could make in a dehydrator. Pineapples - for a high moisture fruit, Bananas - for a medium moisture fruit, Mushrooms - for a low moisture vegetable, sliced beef jerky and stick style jerky- for a raw meat. In each of these foods, we tested for moisture content, texture, and taste.
We took samples of each of these foods at different time intervals to monitor the moisture content and texture. After doing this, we were able to determine the fastest dehydrators and which ones dried the food most evenly. You can see all of the models we tested in our Top Dehydrator Review.
A good dehydrator should evenly dry your food at a proper and consistent temperature range. This will produce the most optimal tasting and shelf-stable dehydrated food.
Design & Construction
You can see gaps between each tray, which lets heat escape, causing temperature fluctuation and longer dry times.
The first thing you're going to notice is the size of the Weston 10 Tray Dehydrator and how large it is. The 10 trays give you plenty of space (over 11 sq feet total) to lay out marinated strips of jerky or sliced fruits. The trays are more of a drawer-style with a lip on the front to create a barrier to seal the heat in. Based on the results of our testing, this method isn't as effective as a solid door for keeping in the heat. The above photo shows the gaps between each tray. Also closing one tray would jolt the others creating gaps there as well.
The trays are nice and large, and there are 10 of them!
The trays are made of a clear plastic and have a diamond shape pattern in them. Becasue of the larger holes in the tray, smaller pieces of food have the tendency to fall through the holes. The ground jerky sticks we made sunk through the holes as well. The trays also slightly warped, probably caused by the heat from the dehydrator. This isn't too big of a problem unless you want to make fruit leathers that need a flat surface to evenly dry and not pool up. The whole thing is pretty much made out of plastic from the housing to the brackets to the trays. The only thing which isn't plastic seems to be the back of the unit where the fan system and heating element are located.
Easily set the digital temperature and timer then press start! (don't forget to press start.. we learned the hard way).
The Weston does have an easy-to-use digital timer and temperature interface. The unit is easy to set and go, very simple and straight forward. The timer is great - when it goes off, the dehydrator also shuts off to prevent over-drying. There is a maximum time limit of 12 hours for the timer, which is sad if your recipe goes over 12 hours. The LCD will also update the temperature in real time to let you know exactly what temperature it is in the drying chamber.
Above is a photo of the rear fan system. Rear fan systems dry more quickly and evenly compared to top or bottom mounted heating elements/fans.
Loading and set up: The trays provided plenty of space for our food, but due to the design of a built-in wall on the front, we were unable to rotate or flip the trays for optimal, even dehydrating. The timer and temperature were easy to setup, as long as you remember to actually press the start button once you've selected your settings. We learned the hard way when we came back to a non-running Weston dehydrator an hour after we thought we started it. More user error on our part here.
Dehydrating: After testing all four of our foods, I can say the airflow was not as effective as similar sized units; Weston took 1-2 hours longer to dehydrate jerky strips, pineapple chunks, and banana chips compared to a similar sized unit with a sealed door system. The temperature drops did not help dry-time either.
Temperature: To make sure our dehydrator was keeping proper temperature, we used a digital thermometer to gauge how well the unit was heating. Weston had a hard time maintaining proper temperature. When set to 125ºF within a 5 minute period, we saw the temperature drop down to 115ºF then jump up all the way up to 130ºF.
In my opinion, the uneven temperatures combined with the trays not nesting properly to create a sealed environment led to the Weston being slow to achieve proper dehydration of our test foods. To be clear, all the foods did finish and tasted great, but took hours longer to cook than the user manual & recipes indicated. So if you need an inexpensive way to dehydrate a lot of food at once, the Weston can do it, but you'll need more patience while your food dries.
Although the Weston took longer to dehydrate than advertised, it produced great tasting food. The jerky did not have a cooked meat taste and was chewy and just the right dry-ness. The mushrooms had a nice crisp exterior and no moisture inside. We were pleased with the results once the Weston finally finished.
Chef Austin carefully studying and admiring dehydrated pineapple.
If you've just harvested your deer from hunting season or have a garden out back, the huge 10 tray Weston will help you preserve the season's bounty. The Weston offers a large dehydrator at a fair price for the size of this unit. The unit was simple to operate and it was easy to load up the large trays. You will have to be patient as it doesn't have the most efficient air flow or temperature control, but the results are satisfactory. Everything we cooked in the Weston food dehydrator tasted great and had the right dehydrated texture.
About the Author:
Chef Austin Merath is Everything Kitchen's Culinary Wizard, Kitchen-Gadget Reviewer, and New-Product Tester. He studied under chefs in College of the Ozarks' Culinary Program. It's his job to make sure you choose the kitchen tools that are right for you by testing the best we have to offer. When not cooking, Austin is tinkering with computers or exploring the Ozarks with his wife Amy. Click here for his full bio.