Nesco Dehydrator Review

Several people have asked me what dehydrator I use. I often post through the summer and fall all of the fruits and vegetables I like to dehydrate. We have apple and pear trees in our yard so this time of year I am busy picking, chopping and freezing, and also dehydrating. I have tried to dehydrate all kinds of fruit because I hate to waste food. Dried watermelon is my girls favorite. I have dried peaches, nectarines, apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, canteloupe (yuck), carrots, peas, and I’m sure a few I can’t remember. This fall and winter I will be testing dehydrated meals and beef jerky. There are so many great ways to use a dehydrator.

I bought this Nesco Dehydrator several years ago. Mine came with four trays, this new version comes with five trays and a jerky gun. The price is a great deal. I have saved our family far more money than I paid for this dehydrator. The one down side is that it does take up quite a bit of space. Mine lives in our kitchen green house window. Not the prettiest thing to put in there, but it fits there and is quick to grab when I need it.

The directions are very simple and easy to use. The lid of the dehydrator lists the temperatures that each type of food should be dehydrated at. I love this feature because I don’t have to rummage around for the instructions each time I use it. From there, you just have to check each item every hour or so until you know how long certain foods take. Yesterday I made thin sliced strawberries and most of them were done in 3-4 hours. Blueberries take me about 12 hours or so.The thinner you cut your fruit or vegetables and how much liquid is in them will lower the time it takes to dehydrate. Thin carrots obviously take a shorter time than thin strawberry slices because carrots don’t have as much natural liquid in them. I have only ruined one fruit in all of my experiments. When I realized I had way over dehydrated the blueberries I made them into beautiful frosting. This link gives you a video tutorial too. 🙂

Here are a few pictures of my dehydrator so you can see what it comes with. The lid shows you all of the dials and temperatures to dehydrate at. All of the trays are “webbed” so air can flow through them. Mine came with one solid plastic tray that fits on top of the other trays. This is used for very small items that would fall through the webbed trays or liquid. I have used the solid tray to make fruit leather, peas, and thin carrot slices. It’s a simple but great machine. I highly recommend it! If you have questions about the dehydrator that I didn’t answer let me know, I’m happy to help. 🙂

Nesco Dehydrator Tray
Nesco Dehydrator Liquid Tray

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Daiya Cheese Review

Over the many years that my family has had dairy allergies and intolerances, we have looked at many dairy free cheeses. It is always shocking to me that the vast majority of dairy free cheese (nut, rice, and soy based) has casein which is milk protein. That makes no sense to me at all. What is even the point of making the cheese to begin with? The only people that would eat that kind of cheese, in my mind anyways, are those that are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerant people can take a lactaid type pill (I did for many years before I couldn’t eat dairy at all) and eat traditional cheese without issue. If I could eat traditional cheese, I would eat it everyday in many styles. I certainly wouldn’t eat dairy free cheese just for the fun of it. Would any of you? Seriously, if you would, I would love to hear your reasons. 🙂 No judging here, I am just curious.

My husband was the first to go dairy free in our family before we had kids. Back then, I didn’t realize that I needed to read the label of a cheese that said “dairy free”. I figured it would be dairy free! For many years he ate soy cheese, it was the best we could find at the time. The soy cheese was a bit rubbery, didn’t really melt, and browned when cooked. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?! He continued to have symptoms of eating dairy, so I started reading labels more carefully. At this point, we realized he couldn’t eat the soy cheese so he was out of cheese options for quite some time.

I can’t remember how long my husband had gone without cheese, but it had probably been more than a year. We went to a local pizza restaurant that carried a vegan/dairy free cheese. Both of us tried the cheese on a melted sub sandwich and were amazed at how good the cheese was. We liked it so much that I asked the waitress what kind of cheese it was. It was Daiya mozzarella style cheese. I went home and googled where I could pick some of this cheese up and found it at a store I frequent near my house. We began to eat quite a bit of the mozzarella shreds though used it sparingly. The taste of the mozzarella shreds is VERY pungent, nothing like true mozzarella cheese. If you aren’t careful, the pungent flavor will completely take over whatever you are using it with. When we used it on pizza, I used maybe 1/2 cup for a whole pizza. Daiya’s cream cheese has this same pungent flavor so we avoid it altogether. In all honesty, for us it ruins a good bagel or anything else you would mix it with. The mozzarella shreds I have found is best in grilled sandwiches with other bold flavors like a meatball sandwich, a pesto veggie sandwich, a french dip, etc. Other than that, I don’t use the mozzarella shreds at all.

A few years back, the cheddar style shreds (affiliate link) appeared on the shelves so I figured I would give it try. This is by FAR the best dairy free/vegan cheese for all intensive purposes. The flavor is very mild so it works nicely on pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, etc. It actually melts which is amazing if you’ve tried other dairy free cheese. I just started buying this by the case from my local grocery store so I can get a discount. It freezes for up to 3 months. Now, if you have had traditional cheese, you need to go into this knowing it’s not real cheese. I don’t think there is anything dairy free out there that would look, smell, taste, melt, and have the same texture as traditional cheese. If you can go in with that in mind, I think you will agree with me. My family loves this cheese on anything. 🙂

My husband really loves cheese, crackers, and salami with a glass of wine. The cheddar style cheese isn’t a great fit for this purpose. Over Christmas I decided to give the Daiya Pepperjack style block cheese a chance for my husbands gift. My husband is very particular about food, he’s my best food critic. He absolutely loved this cheese! It paired very well with the other bold flavors of salami and wine. Since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t give you any other insight than that. From the smell of it, it is also more of a pungent cheese so I would use it paired with other bold flavors as well.

Altogether, Daiya cheese has changed our food allergy life for the better. It is so nice to have an amazing alternative that truly is dairy free.