Food Dehydrators?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Tracy Rimmer, Mar 8, 2004.

  1. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

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    It has come time for me to invest in a new one. I've been checking them out online and was wondering if anyone has an Excalibur model? Are you pleased with it? I like the square trays and the back fan....bit pricey, though.

    Also -- if you've got a model that you really like, can you give me some details?

    Thanks,

    Tracy
     
  2. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have 2 large American Harvest dehydrators, round with a thermostat and fan at the bottom. I can stack trays 20 high on each one and run them hard during the proper season and have had no problems with them in 5 years.
     

  3. Hughes

    Hughes Well-Known Member

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    Tracy, I have an Excalibur and love it. I've had absolutely no issues with it in the 5 years I've had it.
     
  4. barbarake

    barbarake Well-Known Member

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    I have an el-cheapo model - it's worked fine for 10-12 years. We're not talking about an appliance that is at all complicated. Heck, a hair dryer is just as complicated. Why spend lots of money on one??
     
  5. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

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    10+ year old American Harvest. Works great. Look for Deanna DeLong's book HOW TO DRY FOODS; 106 pages of detailed how- to's and recipes so you can use the stuff. Favorite this winter: Toss a couple handfuls of dried apples into the slow cooker, add a can of well drained and rinsed saurkrout, top with pork--roast, chops, chunks, whatever as long as it's lean, and sprinkle with brown sugar and herbs of choice. After 8 hours, the stuff is simply delicious.
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    WalMart had the Nesco American Harvest dehydrator on special recently at about 1/2 the internet price. Unsure if the offer still is available
     
  7. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Tracy, I looked at a link for it here

    http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/excalibur_dehydrators.html

    and I can see why you want one! If the fan turns off, you could use it as a bread dough proofing box, or maybe even to incubate yogurt?

    Do you still have to rotate the trays up and down when drying foods? If not, I might look at buying one. The problem with the round ones, like Ronco and others, is that it is a pain to rotate the trays so that the lowest tray doesn't overdry. Even though some have the fans, the round ones don't circulate the air very well.

    Only bad thing is that it looks like a real counter space hog, and while setting it up in the garage is an option, it would be too easy to leave it on by accident.

    We use a dehydrator when we want really good beef jerky--with a Trader Joe's in the area it's less hassle (and cost) in the long run to buy organic dried fruit, so we don't dry fruit--we freeze and vacuum seal it instead. We will never try drying blueberries again! They turned out like little rocks! ;-)
     
  8. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

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    I like the look of the Excalibur because of the square trays and the fan at the back. I don't like the fan/appliance on the bottom, because if anything drips you've got a mess.

    Also, it can be used for incubating yogurt and proofing yeast dough -- both things that happen with regularity around here. It looks more solid than the stacking trays type -- which I've had and it took eighteen hours and way too much monitoring on my part to make a half pound of raisins. I also really dislike having to watch and switch trays around. PITA factor on this is huge. I really like the idea of putting it on, setting the timer, and leaving it alone.

    Thanks everyone, for your input -- I gulped a bit at the price tag, but I know I'll use this weekly until it falls apart (which my last one did with amazing speed!). It looks a lot sturdier -- maybe it's worth the price tag. We're about to find out.
     
  9. Another vote for Nesco American Harvest dehydrator. The Excalibur is generally recognized as the Cadillac of dehydrators but, hey, I don't drive a Cadillac either. My American Harvest has the heater/forced air unit on the top of the stack. Love it & very dependable. Cost about $40 bucks.
     
  10. elinor

    elinor Well-Known Member

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    Tracy- I've had an Excalibur 9-tray model for, three years now and I highly recommend it. It's a workhorse! I can dry so much more then when I had the round type dehydrators, plus with where the fan is, the air circulation is so much better. That is the key. Plus I like the square trays, you can get so much more on each rack.

    Yes, the Excalibur is expensive, but I feel the initial cost will pay for itself in time. I was looking at the pleasanthillgrain.com site, $199.95 is a good price, plus there's no tax (except in NE) and you get free shipping.

    For RAC-Yes, I do rotate the trays maybe once every one-two hours (depending on what I'm drying) and top to bottom once in the morning and later in the afternoon. It's always good to keep watch on your food, not everything is going to be the exact thickness no matter what. Plus you may want to snatch a piece for a taste test. And yes, the Excalibur is a countertop hog, but I look at it as an important tool. I try to use the dehydrator as much as possible, filling the trays to full capacity and letting it go and get it done as quickly as possible. My busiest season is summer/fall, so I have to soon think about dragging the beast out of it's winter hybernation.

    I haven't tried making yogurt yet, but one of these days I'm gonna give it a try. With spring coming, there's going to be plenty of black raspberries/blackberries/wineberries to be picked and enjoyed.

    Hope this has helped all of you.
    Good day to you all.
    elinor
     
  11. LisaBug

    LisaBug Well-Known Member

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    Tracy, I have two Excalibur dehydrators. One is 20 years old, the small 4 tray model, the other is about 15 years old, 9 trays. Neither one has given me a lick of trouble in the years I've been using them. If I had to change anything it would be the amount of space between trays in the larger one, the food has to be pretty thin to fit. If you asked if I'd buy another one, the answer is yes.

    LisaBug
     
  12. Zack

    Zack Well-Known Member

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