I inherited a Ronco Dehydrator

star0603July 30, 2008

Hi... I recently was given a Ronco 5 tray dehydrator from a great-aunt of mine. She had bought it a while ago, but didn't use it much, if at all! Only problem is, there is no instruction book with it. It looks fairly simple, but I have a silly question about one of the items in the box. The dehydrator itself came with the heating unit, lid, and 5 trays. It also came with a thin plastic disk that had holes all through it. At first, I thought it was to somehow cover the heating element as something to seperate the heating coil and the trays. But, thinking that it was likely to create a fire hazard, I decided it was probably not a guard of some sort. From the hole in the middle of the disk, it also could be an herb tray insert. But, I am not sure. I have never used a dehydrator before, so I thought I would try it out (this is the first year of having my very own garden, and I have been canning and freezing, so I thought dehydration would also be a useful skill). Anybody who knows anything about the Ronco 5 tray (it is all dark plastic, since apparently, there are two or three Ronco 5 tray models)- could you help me out? Thank you very much!

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readinglady(z8 OR)

Here's the manual:

Here is a link that might be useful: Ronco Dehydrator Manual

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 1:10PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

You can use it if you want to, but it will take a very long time to dry anything. The foods can mold or spoil before they are dry on a Ronco. Please, do not use it for meats, they will not be safe to eat.
I am sorry to say this, but, truthfully, we do not recommend use of a Ronco since they have no fan or thermostat.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 2:27PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Plug it in, place the items on the trays, not too dense, and rotate each a 1/4 turn after 12 -24 and 36 hours. Check periodically for dried items. After 2 full days, swap out the trays so the top most is now at the bottom of the pile, and the bottom one is at the top of the pile. The openings at the top are usually left open (rounds) as opposed to the slots, which s done by turning the big knob at the top. You cna stack up to 12 trays at a time, but drying may take longer. Low wattage, no forced air fan, but well worth the cheap price. I dry peppers and also garedn herbs like dill, sage, basil, etc. The faster things dry the more taste, color, and smell they retain. My peppers took about 4 days and that was with about 10 pounds of cut up pieces, with 12 trays stacked. It DOES, IN FACT DRY VERY WELL, no matter what negatives are said about it. The low wattage heater at the base is not going to go over 160 degrees. I own two, and both are now 30+ years old, and get used every summer. Give it a try, as I am quite sure you will be satisfied with the results, especially when it didn't cost you a $10o or more for a fancy shmancy one.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 2:54PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Star,
You can dry things in a Nesco brand, about $50 or so at Walmart in hours compared to days, if you ever care to buy a different one. We recommend the Nesco as a good starter one.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 12:30AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Free is still better than $50

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 8:36AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You are right Ken that free is better than $50 ;) but Linda Lou's points are valid and need to be considered, especially by those new to dehydrating and when talking about the OLD model Roncos. Molds and spoilage are valid concerns (especially here in our humidity) with them. And there is also the electricity bill and meat safety to consider.

There honestly is no comparison between the old Ronco's and most any other kind of dehydrator (some less than $50) that have a fan/motor in them and I have both.

The faster things dry the more taste, color, and smell they retain.

Exactly. It is food done in hours of low amp demand electricity compared to several days of almost the same amp demand. I can do most herbs in 2-3 hours and peppers in 12 tops. Shoot! give me a couple of good sunny days and I can do tomatoes in the sun faster than with the old Ronco. ;)

I'm not saying star should run over this free one with the truck and run out and buy a new one but depending on the types of food being processed, I wouldn't give that old Ronco a 4 star review either. ;)

Star - linked a great article below you might want to review.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Mother Earth News - Choosing a Food Dehydrator

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 10:08AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Never had mold issues or spoilage here. If used properly and rotated screens, there will be even drying. The Roncos worked very well for my 30 pounds of peppers and all my basil, sage, and dill for drying fast. Because I live 'indoors' and can't easily tolerate high heat or high humidiy outside, I do have AC installed. The house is fairly dry and cooler even in heat of summer. For a beginner, the Ronco is fine. Its heater is only about 30 watts and is comparable to a low wattage light bulb. The design is such that no termosatat or temperature setting is needed. Its basic no frills design make use of the convection principle wihc has been very reliable for centuries> You can do a fruit leather as well as jerky, provided the items to be dried are properely prepared beforehand. A good exmple, my mom spent extra time dicing peppers into 1/2 inch pieces. Once in the round drying trays, they shrink (normally) and fell through the small slots. I dried potateoes in it too with no problems. For me, dried tomatoes are not useful for much that I can enjoy. I still have huge 5 pound bag of dried and they are turning brown even when stored in the fridge. Being frugal today is also being practical when it comes to spending money.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 12:41PM
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star0603

Thanks for everyone's advice... I did try out my ronco yesterday, just to see what I thought. It seemed ok, only I was nervous about leaving it plugged in as my son and I went about our errands. I only trayed some pears, apples, and herbs( I used the disk-thing with holes as an herb insert, I hope that was correct). I kept turning the trays before my son and I went out for an hour or so. I guess I didn't have much on them, because they did seemed dry before I went to bed last night, so I unplugged it. I am very very new at this, so I am not sure if I should have left it on all night or not. I was nervous it would create a fire hazard, even thought it seems from the above posts that that would be a strech!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 7:22AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Have no fear of leaving it plugged in even up to 5 days or more. Once fully dried the items are done, and the heating is always consistant. Consider a simple low wattage metal heater that cannot easily break or burn out. Its been safety approved for many years now, and I have never seen any single report of any dangers of burning out, overheating or any other issues. The higher priced models with fans also remain powered on with not only a fan in place but also a heater. If the fan siezed up due to overheating, bad bearings, etc., or worse, stopped, what would the heater do? These higher ended units are now not seeing 'forced' air passing by the heater, so the heater can get quite hot, which can now present an even greater danger, unless there are fuses, thermal breakers, or other means to prevent overheating. Ever see a 30 watt bulb overheat? You can get fire damages from a failed computer, or anything else that plugs into that 'little magic outlet'. Ever leave a light on in the house? The Ronco has never been deemed unsafe and cannot be the cause of any fire hazard. If your not sure, try doing a web search and decide for yourself.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 8:05AM
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jenniesue

I have a ronco that I picked up second hand for a few dollars. It's not great. It takes days to dry things, but since I only use it 3 or 4 times a year I haven't felt it was worth replacing. I would certainly never use it for meat.
I am very careful with it. I figure it's a good to assume it got a reputation for catching fire because it caught fire.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 8:47AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Jenniesue, are you saying that yours 'caught fire'??

I usually don't overfill the trays, and if the item ks really high water, like peppers, they can take few days. Herbs, on the other hand are about 1-2 days tops. With meat, the jerky is first is soaked in soy sauce, which offers quite a high amount of salt. Thats were quick drying and salt will cure the meat. No 'steaks', just thin slices For me to justfiy a moel with fan is also something I find as a luxury. I only do a couple of dryings per ear too. The heater on these only goes a little above 'ouch point' if touched accidentially.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 9:19AM
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amgeisha

I just picked one up at a second hand store - never used. Instead of buying one with a fan, I got a laptop computer fan and sat it under the dehydrator. Think this $8.00 purchase at Big Lots should solve the fan issue.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:16PM
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