I found a Mr. Coffee Food Dehydrator at a yard sale recently. I liked the look of it instantly because it was basically built just like my taller off-brand dehydrator … the one that works like a champ! Plus–bonus points–they only wanted $5 for it. Sold!
Within two weeks, however, I found two MORE dehydrators–both bigger–from free or inexpensive sources … so I decided to pass the Mr. Coffee off to a friend who’d expressed interest in dehydrating for her family, too. After all, my house isn’t that big, so I have to pick my kitchen goodies carefully.
Well … fast forward about six weeks, my friend shows up at my house one day, dehydrator in hand. She said “this thing is killing my self-esteem! Everything I put in it rots. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!”
I asked her several questions, and–thanks to the fact that she’d printed out the directions for that model (they were missing from the box) and tried to use them to the letter–I was ultimately able to determine that she really did clean the dehydrator trays properly before she started, she did prep the fruits properly, and that she was using the dehydrator according to the directions.
Curious–especially since my other stacking plastic tray dehydrator is the workhorse of the house, and something that’s never failed me once–I took the Mr. Coffee Food Dehydrator and washed all the pieces carefully myself. When they were properly air-dried, I loaded the trays up with about two cups total (way less than a dehydrator this size should be able to handle) of bell pepper, cut to one-half inch pieces. That’s the recommended size according to the Mr. Coffee manual, but–honestly–that’s pretty small in the world of piece size and dehydration. In fact, the USDA-approved directions for drying bell peppers says that you should be able to dry them in halves, quarters, or strips. All of those are significantly bigger than a one-half inch dice … but, as I said, I was following their directions to the letter, trying to see where my friend was having a problem with the machine.
Within a half hour, I noticed a large amount of condensation forming on the inside of the lid. Concerned, I set myself an alarm to come back in another half hour to check it again. When I did, the condensation had doubled, completely obscuring the food inside.
It’s not my standard practice to do this, but I decided that it might help … so I opened the dehydrator and wiped off the excess moisture with a paper towel, then replaced the lid.
An hour later, there was an excess of condensation inside the lid again. And again a couple of hours after that, and again after that … despite me wiping the lid regularly and even trying to bounce the trays on my counter to help shake loose some of the condensation that was forming there, too. Every couple of hours, the inside of the lid would get so covered with moisture that you could barely see the pepper pieces through the clear plastic tray, and there seemed to be a steady stream of drips rolling down the inside edges of the trays, right where they stack together.
This continued for three days, despite their own instructions saying that peppers should only take 4-10 hours to dry. Don’t get me wrong … some of the peppers did dry, but they were individuals spaced here and there across the trays … many with no rhyme or reason as to why that piece dried … when its neighbors did not.
Three days into battling the dampness, I opened my Mr. Coffee Food Dehydrator … and found that my peppers had started rotting.
I simply unplugged it, and dropped the whole thing in the trash can.
Final grade: F- … but only because I can’t think of a lower grade to give them. DON’T BUY ONE!