Tell me about dehydrators

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GB

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We have been eating a lot of dried fruit recently so it made me think it might be more economical to start drying my own. Do you have a dehydrator? What do you like or dislike about yours? What are the important features to look for in one? What brands are good or bad?
 

Andy M.

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In addition to dried fruits, you can dry herbs in a dehydrator. However, to do so, you need one that has an adjustable heat level. From what I remember from years ago, fruits and meats are dried at 130F while herbs need a lower temperature - 110F - to preserve the flavor.

Also, consider the availability of really great fresh fruits to go into the dehydrator. There are some fruits that I never buy anymore because I can't get decent, ripe versions. Bananas and apples are not a problem but I can't remember the last time I had a really juicy and flavorful peach or plum.
 

n2cookin

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I do alot of dehydrating and have had two different styles of dehydrators. I originally had the round stacking type of dehydrator where the fan and moter is either on the bottom or the top of the trays and the trays actually make up the cabinet of the deyhydrator. But after a few months I bought a 9 tray Excalibur. It is my favorite and only one I would buy. It is more efficient than the first one I had. The air blows across the trays insted of trying to blow air through trays and through the layers of food. If dehydrating something that is thicker or taller you can leave out a tray and still be able to dehydrate. For example broccoli or making fresh yogurt. You can't do that with the stacking trays that make up the cabinet. I love my Excalibur. It is a little more expensive than some other brands but it has an awesome warranty. I dehydrate a lot of fruits and vegetables, a great money saver, store food in less space and I can enjoy produce when it is not in season. I found an awesome site with videos of how to dehydrate and recipes on what to do with the dehydrated foods. Click Here It is a free site you do not have to sign in. Also the Excalibur site has instructional videos. Click Here I bought mine directly from the Manufactuer site because I wanted to make sure I would have the warranty. I did not want to buy through a 3rd party site, I wanted to make sure I got a new one not a reconditioned one.
 

GB

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This is great info n2cookin, thanks! I had read about the Excalibur years ago, but before I ever thought I would want to do this. I remember thinking that this brand seems the way I would go if I ever decided to jump in, but I had forgotten the name. I am very glad you reminded me.
 

GB

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n2cookin, which model do you have? I think it I do this I will get the biggest one I can. It looks like they have two 9 tray models with the only difference being the more expensive one has a timer so you can have it shut off at a pre-programmed time. How important do you think that feature is? Also, do you think I really need all 9 trays or do you think the 5 tray would work fine for me? I do not expect to use this a ton, but when I do use it I want to be able to do a lot at a time.
 

Chef Munky

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I'm not "Ntocookin" But have the 9 tray Excalibur. Mine is the 3900-9 tray, no timer. An oven timer works just as well. We bought ours from Amazon last year. Have yet to have any problems with it. It's used often. Glad I got the 9 trays and not the smaller units. Tomato/ herb time, all trays are used. Average was about 10-15 pounds of halved roma tomatoes. Probably more.

It's the best dehydrator your going to get for your money. The 9 trays are just a step away from the commercial dehydrators (floor models/digital) Well worth every dime.
The timing recommendations the Ex provides is pretty accurate. I don't have to worry about improperly dehydrated items growing mold while in storage. You don't have to go back remove trays, rotate food, turn it over and place it back in. The doughnuts lose heat that way. The Ex's food is undisturbed from start to finish. With no loss of heat. That's a biggie with dehydrators. No excess handling of food by you. Easy clean up of the trays and unit if it needs it. Easy to find and buy mats,for craft projects.

Most items I'll store in mason jars, dated and marked. Everything gets used. It's so convenient for me having certain things dehydrated in advance. They incorporate into lunches/dinners/snacks easily. I can't believe the money I've saved by buying produce right out of the field, bringing it home and 4 months later using that out of season product in a meal. Just awesome! Blending your own spices is fun. Great for infusing your own unique oils, dipping sauces.
I'm not a yogurt person, (It should be banned) but some are,and make their own. I use mine quite often when making artisan breads.

The E'x's because of their design are well known for accuracy, even heat distribution, energy efficient. The doughnuts are not.. 3 pounds of sliced beef cut into jerky strips takes me about 4 hours, fully loaded trays. In the oven, it's usually an over night job, and an iffy outcome. Kids would love to make their own popcorn right from the cob. 1 loaf of cubed bread is croutons in 30 minutes.

Are you sold on it yet GB? ;)

Munky.
 

GB

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I'm not "Ntocookin" But have the 9 tray Excalibur. Mine is the 3900-9 tray, no timer. An oven timer works just as well.
I think the timer shuts the unit off so an oven timer would not do anything. With the timer you can set it up before work or before bed and have it dry for 4 hours and then shut off instead of continuing to cook. At least that is what I think it does.

Are you sold on it yet GB? ;)
LOL Yes I am. The only thing I need to figure out now is if the timer is worth the extra $30.
 

Chef Munky

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The timer wasn't an issue for me because I'm home. My kitchen IS my office. Head CEO here :)

Your right the timer just shuts the unit off if your sleeping, or away from home with a life :) See it's saving me money already!.

Munky.
 

bigdaddy3k

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GB check out e-bay before you buy new. You can get some fantastic deals on there. I have never bought a dehydrator new. As a matter of fact, when my racks start to get worse for wear I often just buy another used dehydrator and just use the racks.

My primary use is for jerky so the tray/racks that turn into the cabinet work for me. I can see a value in a box with removable trays though.

I too have looked at the Excalibur and have lusted for it. I would have to spring for the 9 drawer one though. I make huge batches of jerky.
 

GB

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Yeah I have been checking eBay. Most seem to have a decent warranty even when bought there. Not 10 years like from the Excalibur store itself, but some have 5 years which isn't too bad.
 

babetoo

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it is interesting to see how many people like them. i bought one, fairly expensive. frankly to labor intensive for the amount you end up with. fruit is not cheap here, you would think it would be. i won't do it again. anyone want to buy one used just once. lol
 

Chef Munky

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Lol Babe :) It is work chopping and prepping to get the job done. I think Californian's pay extra for fresh fruit and veggies. Like everything else. :ermm:

GB: Forgot to mention a few setbacks with my dehydrator. They are minor.

1.) Electrical cord is short. I mean short. I had to rearrange the counters work areas to accommodate the box. It worked out and were friends.

2.) The noise, as the food dries the front cover vibrates/rattles. It starts out alright, the noise is tolerable. But as it dries items the louder it gets. That to me IS the timer. Things are almost done. If you do decide on the Ex, invest in a package of felt adhesive backing pads. Large circle's. Cut them in half and stick them on the front, (all corners) of the unit. Not the door itself. The glue really holds the pads on even when it's hot. That eliminates the noise drastically.

3.) If your tall disregard this: The temp dial is located on the top! I can't see it! Unless I get out the step stool.

4.) This is new to me. I'll have to check further into it. Taylor Digital Cooking Thermometer/Timer

This is the best dehydrator comparison chart I could find for ya.
Food Dehydrator Comparison chart including Excalibur and Lequip


Munky.
 

GB

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Yeah I am sold on the Excalibur. And for an extra couple of bucks I figure I might as well get the one with the timer.

Thanks for the idea about the felt pads. That is a great idea.
 

bigdaddy3k

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it is interesting to see how many people like them. i bought one, fairly expensive. frankly to labor intensive for the amount you end up with. fruit is not cheap here, you would think it would be. i won't do it again. anyone want to buy one used just once. lol

PM me! I will haggle!
 

n2cookin

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n2cookin, which model do you have? I think it I do this I will get the biggest one I can. It looks like they have two 9 tray models with the only difference being the more expensive one has a timer so you can have it shut off at a pre-programmed time. How important do you think that feature is? Also, do you think I really need all 9 trays or do you think the 5 tray would work fine for me? I do not expect to use this a ton, but when I do use it I want to be able to do a lot at a time.

I have the 9-tray model 3900. It is the one without the timer. I do not find the timer necessary. Besides I would not want the timer to shut off the dehydrator if I was not there to check to see if it was completely dehydrated. I don't want it shutting off in the middle of the night and sitting there with warmth inside and cooling down only to absorb moisture during the night.

I would recommend the 9-tray because even if you are not dehydrating often when you do I imagine you will want to do all you can and get done with it. I prefer loading up a full 9 tray as compared to running more than one batch using a 5 tray model. I am very happy I got the 9 tray instead of the 5.
 
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