Wow! I was so happy with how sun-dried tomatoes came out after drying them on my Nesco Snackmaster Pro. The process was about as easy as you can possibly get. What you end up with are pliable but not leathery tomatoes that can be used anywhere jarred sun-dried tomatoes are called for, like sun-dried tomato hummus, which I made immediately after the tomatoes were ready. I used roma tomatoes because they are cheap and don’t require me to remove the seeds. If you use bigger tomatoes you’ll have to seed them after removing the skins. These sun-dried tomatoes aren’t packed in oil like those in jars. And I opted to not season them at all, though you can surely add basil or thyme or whatever flavors you want. I just wanted good, dried tomatoes and that’s what I got. It takes a lot of tomatoes to make a batch of sun-dried tomatoes. I made a big batch, and froze the leftovers in vacuum-sealed bags in the freezer.
Fill a large bowl with ice and add water to create an ice bath.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Working in small batches (4-5 tomatoes at a time), add tomatoes to boiling water and boil for 45 second to 1 minute at the most. If your tomatoes are small, 45 seconds should be enough. You aren't trying to cook the tomatoes, only loosening the skin.
Remove tomatoes to ice bath and let cool for 5 minutes before removing and peeling the skin. Most of my tomatoes peeled easily, but for some I had to use (gently) a vegetable peeler.
Cut the tomatoes into quarters lengthwise and remove and tough green parts along with any stems.
Add tomatoes to the dehydrator. I used screens, but you don't need them.
Turn dehydrator to 145 F and dry until the tomatoes are leathery, but not crispy. There should be no visible signs of water and no water should escape when you squeeze the tomatoes. Rotate the trays every hour to ensure consistent drying. Larger pieces may require longer drying times.
Let tomatoes cool before using, or freeze and vacuum pack for later use.
Oh my goodness! It worked! Fig newtons on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro came out absolutely fantastically! Moist, tender, and packed with figgy flavor. I could not have been happier. I haven’t had a fig newton in what seems like a hundred years. Now I can make them at home, and easily. The steps for making your own fig newtons using your Nesco Snackmaster Pro are pretty straightforward. You form a dough, first, and then roll it out so that’s 6″ deep and it-doesn’t-matter how long.
Then you form a paste of the figs and just a bit of water using your food processor. Spread the paste down the center 2″ of the dough rectangle. Try not to eat all of the figs while you’re doing this.
Fold the sides over to form a big log of figgy goodness. Cut into 2″ (or so) sections and transfer to the dehydrator. Dry at 115 F for about 48 hours then devour!
Place the flour, milk and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Mix with your hands until it forms a dough. The dough will be slightly dry but will still hold its form when pressed.
Place the figs into a food process.
Add 1/4 cup of water and pulse a few times. If the figs form a paste you are done. If not, add a bit more water and pulse again. Continue until you get a firm paste, but do not add too much water that it becomes runny.
Roll the dough out on a flat surface. Form a rectangle that is 6" deep and about 1/4" thick. Don't worry about the width of the dough.
Spread the fig paste down the center 2" of the dough, leaving 2" above and below to the edges of the dough.
Fold the edges over the fig filling. The dough might split a bit along the edges. Use your fingers to pinch it back together.
Use a pastry or pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into 2" pieces.
Transfer cookies to the Nesco Snackmaster Pro trays. Note: Our fig newtons were pretty thick so they they did like to stick to the tray above them. Don't fret that, they'll come out fine. I do recommend that you do not place any cookies on the top rack, the one closest to the dehydrator motor as they may stick to it.
Set the temperature to 115 F and dry for up to 48 hours or until the dough is soft but dry.
Ever since I bought my Nesco Snasckmaster Pro I have been looking forward to drying chile peppers to make my own red pepper flake. I use a ton of red pepper flake in the many dishes I cook, and I thought it’d be awesome to grown my own peppers and dry them. So, that’s what I did. My pepper harvest wasn’t very bountiful, but fortunately it doesn’t take a lot of peppers to make a good-sized batch of red pepper flake. Packed with heat and great flavor, I couldn’t have been happier with the end result. I hand-crushed the dried peppers with a mortar and pestle. You could use a blade coffee grinder or even blender, but I think you’ll end up with chile powder (my next project) instead of coarse flake. You get much better control over the end product using the mortar and pestle.
I’ve been having a blast with my new dehydrator, a Nesco Snackmaster Pro. I’ve been making a lot of jerky, so I figured I’d take a break and make something different. And that different is raisins. They take a few days to dehydrate, but boy are they fantastic! Tender and sweet. Soooooo much better than store-bought. Raisins on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro are fun to make and eat! You can fit about a pound of grapes per tray (outfitted with screens). You should rotate the trays every few hours to guarantee even drying, but be careful rotating the trays when you first start out. Them lil grapes like to roll around!
After 2 days the smaller grapes may be dried completely, so check through the trays for any that are done.
You can fit about a pound of grapes per tray in the Nesco Snackmaster Pro. Do not overcrowd the grapes.
Remove the stems from the grapes.
Rinse under cold water.
Pat the grapes dry. The drier, the better.
Place grapes onto the dehydrator screens. Try to not let them touch.
Close the dehydrator and turn onto high.
Dehydrate on high for 24 hours, rotating the trays every 2 hours or so. Don't fret if you don't rotate the trays at night while you're sleeping!
Turn the dehydrator down to 135 F and continue drying for a total of 3 days, rotating the trays every 2 hours or so. I like to move the grapes around a bit as they are drying to keep them from sticking to the screens.
Onions were on sale here last week. I hate passing up on a deal, so bought a few nice big onions, and proceeded to make homemade onion powder using my Nesco Snackmaster Pro. The end result has a slightly different texture than store-bought onion powder, but a much more onion-packed flavor. My first use of my onion powder was in a rub for rotisserie-style chicken. You can definitely tell the difference between onion powder made on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro and the stuff in a jar. Wow!
After drying the onions for 24 hours I ground them using a blade coffee grinder (not the burr grinder). Not all of the onion pieces would go thru the grinder (they were still a bit moist) so I returned them to the dehydrator for just a bit.
The final product went into Mason jars with lids and then vacuum-sealed using a jar attachment for a vacuum sealer. You just have to remember that after you open the jar to remove some of the powder you’ll need to re-seal it. No big deal and well worth the effort.
I’ve really been enjoying my Nesco Snackmaster Pro dehydrator. I’m always looking for more things to dry, taking advantage of anything in season or fresh. I recently grabbed a few pounds of oyster and shiitake mushrooms with the goal of drying them for later use in stir-fries or soups. I found that drying them is incredibly easy. Rinse, dry, slice (if you want) and dry. Done. I store the dehydrated mushrooms in resealable baggies or Mason jars. Whenever I need them I just grab them and toss them into the dish. If the recipe I’m using them in doesn’t contain a lot of liquid that can be used to re-hydrate the mushrooms I’ll first toss them into some warm water for a few minutes.
If you decide to slice your mushrooms don’t cut them too small. They shrink a lot as they dry, and if you cut them too small they will crumble too easily and can fall thru the holes in the trays on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro. I prefer to keep the mushrooms as whole as possible. You never know how you might use the mushrooms in the end. You can always cut the larger pieces later, but you can’t make the smaller pieces bigger!
I recently picked up a Nesco Snackmaster Pro dehydrator and boy, have I been having a fun time with it. I’ve made beef jerky. Ground beef jerky. Ground turkey jerky. Dried fruits. And now? Bacon bits. Fantastic, dried, crunchy, not-fatty-yucky bacon bits. 100% bacon, 100% flavor. And so easy, just like everything else I’ve made on my Snackmaster Pro.
The key to making perfect bacon bits on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro is: pat. Pat with paper towels every chance you get and then pat some more. The less fat left in the end the crispier your bacon bits. Also, fat goes rancid much quicker than meat, so reducing it will increase the shelf-life of your bits. Although, I have to say, the bacon bits I made didn’t last very long around here at all.
You'll need 2 screen trays and two trays per pound of bacon. Remember to always have at least 4 trays in the Snackmaster Pro when using it.
Thin-sliced smoked bacon
Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Line a baking sheet (or sheets, depending on how much bacon you're making at a time) with foil.
Add bacon, but do not overlap.
Bake for 20 minutes. Flip and continue baking until crispy. NOTE: I normally like my bacon less than super crispy. This is not the time to do that. You want the bacon crispy with no soft fatty ends.
Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and pat dry. Be thorough. You want to get as much fat off the bacon as possible.
Crumble bacon. Pat again with paper towels. Remember, your goal is to get as much fat off as possible.
Cut parchment paper to the same size as the mesh trays. Fold in half, making a half moon, then in half again, forming what looks like a piece of pizza and cut about an inch rectangle off the sharp corner. When you unfold it the parchment paper should have a square hole in the middle about the size of the hole in the center of the Snackmaster Pro trays. This will make sure that the air circulates well.
Line Snackmaster Pro trays with parchment paper and add the screen trays.
Add the crumbled bacon, spreading it out as much as possible so it doesn't touch.
Place trays into the Snackmaster Pro on the highest temperature.
Dry for 12-20 hours. Every two hours take the bottom two trays and move them to the top of the stack so that the bacon dries evenly. Also pat the bacon with paper towels again.
When the bacon is dried remove to paper towel and let cool.