The Bottom Line
- The best appliance you didn't even know you needed
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Built to last
- A bit noisy
- Dehydrates fruit, meat, herbs with hot air and without preservatives or extra sugar
- Comes with 4, 5 or 9 drawers
- All units have built in thermostats
- You can buy additional drawer liners to make fruit leathers
- Crisps crackers that have gotten soggy
- Makes bread crumbs and croutons
- Takes up a fair amount of counter space
- Prices range from $119 for the most basic model to $249 for a nine tray unit with a 26 hour timer
- Available in black or white
Guide Review - Help! I Need A Food Drying Intervention
I had no idea how addictive drying food could be. I received my Excalibur dehydrator in the mail a couple of weeks ago and since then it has been running almost constantly. I have dried pounds of apples, oranges, pears, tomatoes and I have several different types of herbs as well.
The only problem with dehydrating food that I have discovered so far, is that as soon as the fruit comes out of the dryer - seemingly, no matter what the volume - my family and friends almost instantly consume it. The jar of oranges pictured here lasted less than an hour. The whole jar vanished - they were that delicious.
I have never owned another food dehydrator, so I can't compare the Excalibur to others, but from what I read it is considered the Cadillac of dehydrators. It is incredibly well designed. Easy to use, easy to clean and works pretty flawlessly.
The drawers slide in and out easily and cleaning them is a breeze. The front door of the dehydrator is easy to remove - in fact that is one of my few complaints about the Excalibur - it loosely hangs, which can lead to a noisy vibration.
Most models of the Excalibur Food Dehydrator come with either a 24 or 26-hour timer, which turns the unit off automatically. You can get the most basic model that doesn't have a timer, but because drying times can be so long, I would recommend against that.
I have the five drawer Excalibur Food Dehydrator, and while that is sufficient for me, I would get the biggest unit you can afford and have room for.
You can do almost everything in a convection oven that you can with an Excalibur Dehydrator, but to be honest, it's just not as much fun. Also, it is a bigger mess, and if you have one oven, the dehydrating times, which can be a full day, can put your oven out of commission for longer than makes sense.
One of the keys to successful food drying (and the most difficult and time consuming part) is to cut pieces of whatever it is you are drying into uniform thickness. For most things this requires a very sharp knife, a food processor or both. I also have a Shaker design apple cutter and peeler that works very well for drying apple rounds.