Looking for food dehydrator recommendations.

ediej1209 AL Zn 7

The prepping and using up food threads has me thinking about getting a dehydrator. Never have used one before and have no idea whether any of the smaller ones are worth the $$/effort. I am thinking more along the lines of drying veggies more than fruits, if that makes any difference. I don't have anywhere to put one of those huge ones. Thanks in advance!

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donna_in_sask

I have the 9 tray Excalibur and it works well. I don't know what's going on with pricing and availability though...seems like it's gone up quite a bit since I bought.

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beesneeds

I use a pair of Nesco American Harvest ones. I like their versatility and price point. A lot of people like the Excalibur's too.

Whatever you get, make sure that is has a good range of temps, the control is easy to use, and that it has a fan system to blow the hot air around. Do be sure to opt to get the extras- the things like jelly roll sheets or mesh sheets. Whatever you get will likely come with a couple, but not enough for all your trays.

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agmss15

I have a Nesco as well. With adjustable heat. I use it a lot to dry mints, lemon balm, verbena, apples, peppers, tomatoes, onions, green beens etc.... I have heard the Excalibur is great.

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Lars

I have a Nesco, and I use it to try apples and chilies, but that's about all I've used it for so far. I don't grow anything else in a quantity that would require dehydrating - so far.

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TXSkeeter

Five tray Excalibur here. Large slide in trays with a screen(s) for smaller items. Don't use it all that much but does a great job with minimal effort.

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KatieC

I have a Nesco also and it's been good. Years (and years) ago I picked up an American Harvest at our state fair. It had a lifetime warranty and finally died when they could no longer get parts. But I had a bunch of round trays, (invaluable) berry screens and fruit leather trays so I bought a new Nesco base from the repair place. Not as solid as my old American Harvest, but it works fine and you don't have to rotate the trays..

Back then price was a consideration. If I didn't already have screens and trays I'd look at an Excaliber.

When I took the Master Food Preserver class we tested a dozen different dehydrators, from a net zippered bag you could hang in a tree, to a Ronco, to an Excaliber. And the back window in a car on a hot day. They all worked. The more you pay the more control you have. For instance, Roncos were (are?) cheap but you have to rotate the trays and you don't have good temp control. But they work.



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gardengirl37232

I bought the nine tray Excalibur, which is great. However it does have a big footprint, about as big as a microwave. Alternatively, for small quantities, I use the warm setting on the toaster oven. That is how I have been drying my peppers.

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annie1992

I also have the 9 tray Excalibur, and it gets heavy use at certain times. I dry onions, garlic, zucchini slices, apple slices, peppers, zucchini "gummy worms", some fruit leathers and sometimes jerky as well as herbs.

I had a Harvest Maid and it worked for years, then one day I was drying hot peppers in the garage in my prior house and it just caught on fire. There was a small boom and it was gone. I unplugged it and the fire went out but the peppers were ruined, LOL.

Annie

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LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

Annie - that's a method for roasting peppers that I've never tried. LOL

I also have a Nesco. It is the second one I've purchased. The fan motor went out on the first one after heavy use so now I have 8 trays instead of just the 4 that come with one.

I use it for the same things as Annie does as well as tomatoes. I make my own onion, garlic, and tomato powder and plan to make some hot pepper powder this year.

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beesneeds

I've killed a couple dehydrators over the years due to heavy use- one new, one a used one- but I haven't had one start on fire! Knock on wood :)

I dehydrate all sorts of stuff. From jerky, roasted chicken, smoked fish, and lunchmeat, to onions, celery, carrots, corn, peas, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potato, summer squashes, mushrooms, kale and other greens, cabbage, apples, citrus slices, pineapple and more. Winter squash leather and flour, peach flour... Lot's of powders- salsa, tzatziki, enchilada sauce, tomato sauce... veggie broth base, garlic mushroom base... right now I got a tray of caramelized onions drying.

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ediej1209 AL Zn 7

Amazon has both round and rectangular dehydrators. Is there any advantage to one over the other?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0090WOCM6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_R50BFbD4XQVP7

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000LNVUJQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_I70BFb097D7QN


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beesneeds

I've only used the round ones... but looking at the reviews for both of them, looks like the round one gets more positive reviews, and the square one more negative reviews.

Something else I noticed was the add ons... The extra trays, plastic screens, and jelly trays are more expensive for the square dehydrator than the round one.

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ediej1209 AL Zn 7

OK thank y'all. Gonna get the round one. A new adventure!!

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dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m

A square one, Excalibur, is what I have. It saves counter space, and you can put stuff on top.

A square one makes gallons of yogurt perfectly.

I can dehydrate full slices of watermelon.


Fun with Mango leather


Seedless tomato leather


dcarch

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LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

They certainly have increased in price since I bought my last one maybe 10-12 years ago. I think it was around $35 for the round Nesco with 4 trays.

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

I think mine's a Salton? Oval clear hard plastic with 5 stacking trays - pretty basic controls. I use it mainly for fruits and have had it for years now - I think I got it from JCPenneys for around $60.

Found a photo that looks like it, but it's Cuisinart @ Macys.com. Probably the same manufacturer. Looks like they have the others mentioned above as well - and on sale...

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dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m

Tip:

Supermarket plastic produce bags, very much non-stick for dehydrator fruit leather making.


dcarch


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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

Mine came with a plastic liner for fruit leather, but I've yet to use it.

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petalique

I’ve never tried one. A few questions:

What sort of temperatures are involved?

dcarch, how long did it take to dry that square tray of tomatoes?

How do you use the end products?

Annie, that fire must have made a mess. Good that no damage to your garage. Do you think fire was from the heating element or the fan motor?


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LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

petalique

The temperature used depends on what your dehydrating. My Nesco adjusts from 95F (herbs) to 155F (Jerky). I use 135F for most veggies. The temperature dial lists what temperature to use for what product.

Tomatoes take around 24-36 hours for me depending on thickness and number of trays I am drying. I usually rotate the trays every 12 hours or so to keep them even in drying. I use tried tomatoes in soups, pasta, stews, pizza topping, or reconstitute and toss in salads. Sometimes I use a coffee grinder to grind into tomato powder to use as a tasty thickener. I also grind dehydrated peppers, garlic chips, and onions. The dried onion slices turn out very much like the ones you can buy for green bean casserole.

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petalique

Thanks for the answers, Lonejack. My gardens have too much shade for much produce these days, but in the past I had an abundance of certain vegetables. I bought a Breville convection oven with “air fryer” and (unused) dehydrator functions. I only have a single basket tray, but maybe I’ll try to come up with something to dehydrate (like my cellar). Or maybe items that I’m not going to get to eat. But if I am only going to dehydrate a single basket (I think it holds 3), the electrical cost might outweigh any gain.


Maybe I can rig up a steel mesh rack or hammock over our wood stove. I‘m already thinking about fashioning a home made mesh ”pellet” smokeping cylinder (wet apple wood or chery chips.)

I need a metal peel like the one Lar’s just ordered, but the Yankee in me might try to make one. Probably not ;)

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beesneeds

I'll add in too about time and temp. It can depend on what kind of unit you use, and also what the humidity is. Not a huge amount of difference, but enough sometimes.

My units run 95-160. 160 is for meats. Jerky of course. But I also do some lean lunchmeat- can make good crumbles like bacon bits in soups and such. I do smoked fish too- smoked sturgeon dehydrates super crisp to honey salmon is fridge store only. Great for soups, and the sturgeon is killer with onions in a cream cheese and egg smear. Chicken or turkey breast as fat free as possible is good- I make a killer enchilada pulled chicken that dries up and is a "secret ingredient" in layered dips, cheesy soups, baked potato topper..

The majority of the rest of what I do is at 145. Citrus I do more around 135 because it can really discolor- still great to use, just not pretty.

I do use the 95 temp too- this is nice for if stuff isn't quite done, or needs a flip and slower dry to finish overnight. The lower degree range there is good :)

I don't just dehydrate my harvests, I also do it with sales. When citrus is on sale, I dry it. Frozen corn and peas, ditto. This morning I pulled off a batch each of sale white corn and sale peas from the dehydrators- 72 oz frozen dries down into less than a quart jar dried.

And cooking with it. Wow, I do a lot of cooking with the stuff. Probably better for another thread since this one is for dehydrators themselves. But it is a learning curve to an extent.

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dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m

"----dcarch, how long did it take to dry that square tray of tomatoes?---"

It depends on how thick you are making it and outside humidity a lot. about 12 hours.


dcarch

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petalique

Maybe the interior of a truck parked in the sun, food on mesh cooling rack, fan blowing over it. Or maybe not.

A fisherman (friend’s father with a dragger) used to sun dry lots of cod, with salt and pepper. His dehydrator was oak slats. I don’t know why the gulls didn’t grab his cod.

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