What we bought: The Cosori 0165 dehydrator mummifies meat for $70

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I’m a big fan of beef jerky. Not so much the staggering retail price, mind you, or the untraceability of the commercial product’s precursors — like when you get that one bag that’s nothing but shreds, unidentifiable knuckles, and strands of dried flesh, ew. So I decided to match my recent self-sufficiency kick, for fun and probably for profit, to start dehydrating my own food. Certainly not, because the USDA warns that in 2022, “all grocery prices are expected to rise between 8.5 and 9.5 percent,” with “at-home grocery prices projected to rise between 10 and 11 percent.”

Dehydration is one of mankind’s oldest and most useful cooking techniques. We did this before we started farming, drying meat and vegetables in the sun to wick away moisture that leads to spoilage, extend shelf life, and make shipping easier. Even with subsequent advances in fermentation, brining, curing and canning, drying remains a ubiquitous practice, with the global meat snacks industry valued at US$9.47 billion in 2021.

Given that I’m just getting into the activity and generally a cheap bugger, I’ve ignored the advice of popular review sites and foregone the bells and whistles of Wi-Fi connectivity, stainless steel construction, and associated smartphone apps and instead went for the least decidedly most expensive barebones dehydrator I could find: the Cosori C0165. It’s $70 and perfect.

Cosori 0165 dehydrator

Andrew Tarantola / Engadget.com

I mean it’s a dehydrator. It’s by definition a box blowing hot air. You could literally make MacGyver out of a hair dryer, a plastic milk crate, a 2 gallon water jug, some chicken wire, and a roll of duct tape if you wanted to. And the dehydration process is nothing special. You set the temperature and a timer, then wait 6 to 18 hours for a bell to ring. So why would I spend more than $200-$500 for a bunch of features that only give the illusion of greater control but don’t? Is the process faster?

The C0165 does exactly what it’s supposed to and not an iota more and I absolutely love it for that. You get five BPA-free plastic stacking trays, a fruit roll sheet, and a lattice sheet for herbs (yes, those herbs too). You place moisture-filled items on these trays, you stack the trays, you turn on the machine, you set the temperature (95ºF-165ºF) and time (30-minute increments up to 48 hours), and then you do yours continue life. There’s no pop-up reminders to clear, no app permissions to give, and very little damage as long as you don’t submerge the base unit in liquid. The thing is damn quiet, running under 48dB – you won’t notice it’s on overnight unless it’s in the same room as you – and compact enough to fit in the closet, if it is not used. Cleaning is easy too, just wipe the bottom with a sponge and lightly scrub the trays to remove any dried bits left behind.

Cosori 0165 dehydrator

Andrew Tarantola / Engadget.com

To date, I’ve managed to put over 2 pounds of sliced ​​and marinated ground rounds into the machine at a time, as well as about 3 pounds of roasted heirloom tomatoes at a time. Taller (or wider, depending on your viewing angle) items can be tricky as there isn’t much space between each tier of shells, so things like hatch chillies need to be cut to size before processing. And although I have to run the machine for most of the day to see results, it’s still far more efficient than using a large kitchen oven (which draws an average of 2000-3000w versus the C0165’s 450w) and orders of magnitude faster, than waiting for the stupid old sun to do it – and that’s assuming you even live somewhere hot and dry enough to keep the food from rotting before it’s completely dry (hint: That somewhere sure isn’t San Francisco).

https://www.engadget.com/cosori-0165-food-dehydrator-irl-143014095.html?src=rss What we bought: The Cosori 0165 dehydrator mummifies meat for $70

Russell Falcon

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