This is my first dehydrator and before purchasing a lot of research and review was done of comparable makes and models.
The first thing I noticed in hundreds of reviews is that most give bad marks if a dehydrator is not super quiet. Don't let such foolishness sway you. Because the noise level seems to be such a huge factor to most, I will start with that. As far as this unit goes, the noise level of this Presto 06301 Digital Electric Food Dehydrator is comparable to a standard window fan or air conditioning unit. Yet in my comparison, my clothes dyer is louder as is a hair dyer. I would say this unit in no louder than the average microwave in use. The long and short of it is that everyone must come to terms with the facts that all dehydrators have a fan and heater on them and they make noise. My recommendation is that if this is such a concern, after the unit is loaded, place it in a room or area where there is not going to be a lot of people.
The unit was shipped really fast for standard ground delivery. When it arrived it was packaged in another box to prevent damage.
This Presto 06301 Digital Electric Food Dehydrator comes with the base unit, 6 stackable racks, 2 of the finer mesh screens and 2 of the trays to make fruit leathers and such as well as the clear lid. Wal-Mart's item description was a bit unclear on that, although I ordered extras trays, fine mesh screens and the fruit leather trays to complete the maximum of 12.
Personally, after using it the first time, I love the digital controls with and temperature adjustment in both C and F of degrees. The setting goes from a minimum of 90 degrees F to a maximum of 165 degrees F. This unit also have a timer that can count up or down to 48 hours. I do love this feature as I can leave it and know it will shut off by its self, although the instruction do recommend checking what you are dying ever couple of hours. I wouldn't purchase one without a timer. If you do, I would also purchase one of those timers that plug into your wall outlet and the appliance then plugs into the timer.
The unit has been used almost daily since I got it without any problems, which would be roughly 6 weeks now. The reason for the purchase is that I own a health and fitness retail business and we have a juice and smoothie bar. We use a number of juicers that we also sell and I was looking for a way salvage the pulp that left over. So basically this was a test unit for us. Using the fruit leather trays, we spread the remains of the carrot pulp on the fruit leather trays. Carrots are more solid than say apples that contain more juices. So it took roughly 6 hours to dry the carrot pulp. After it was dried, we used a food processor to then grind up the pulp much finer and then used a coffee/nut/spice grinder to then grind the carrot pulp back into a fine powder. Because a food dehydrator can dye food without the loss of nutrition, we then reincorporate the various dried fruit pulp powders back into our smoothies. We have been able to recover about 98-99% of the fruit and veggies we buy purchase for juicing and smoothies. As a result we have been able to lower our prices on our juices and smoothies as well as now get more people trying them at our fitness facility!
In short the tests went awesome and was tried at home before using it in our store. See the photos!
One other thing I would like to comment on that seems to be a factor in most reviews is the drying times. Anyone considering purchasing this unit or any other must be realistic. The instructions clearly state that drying times are only RECOMMENDATIONS and not actual drying times. There are a lot of factors at play here with any dehydrator. Again, carrots, bananas have far less moisture than apples, pears, celery and such. Even jerky meat may vary in moisture content of how you prepare it.
Also don't limit yourself to just fruits, veggies and say jerky. I have found numerous recipes for protein bars that can be easily whipped in in a dough form, spread on the fruit roll trays, allowed to dry and then cut into bars. I have also done nuts, berries, fruit, veggies, jerky, cookies to even drying seeds for my garden this next spring!
I would highly recommend this Presto 06301 Digital Electric Food Dehydrator to anyone looking for a first time dehydrator or upgrading to one with more features and don't want to invest in say a top of the line Excalibur which start at a few hundred dollars and goes up from there. This unit was purchased for rough $65.00 and just to be able to recover the cost of fruits and veggie pulp into a usable product has already paid for the cost of this Presto Food Dehydrator!
Attached photos: 1 shows loading the Presto 6301 on my kitchen table which is off of my living room. I was able to watch tv while the dehydrator was in use. Note: everything seen on the trays was part of a test to see how difficult it would be to recovery pulps from my juicers and instead of wasting it by throwing it away, adding to compost pile, or putting down the disposal, if it could be dried and ground into a powder. You see the carrot pulp spread on the tray in the lower right hand corner. The other photo show the carrot pulp after it was dried on the fruit leather trays on the left. On the right shows the finish product of the carrot pulp ground into a fine powder using a food processor and coffee/spice mill. Below that you also see kale leaves that were also dried and ground into a powder.
Love this Presto 6301 and it has been in operation almost daily since it was delivered with no problems!