We’ve been using our dehydrator this year to dry hot peppers then grind them into pepper powder. (see picture of dried pods… waiting to be ground up)
The one we have (and it works wonderfully), is an Excalibur 3500 5 shelf model. We’ve made everything from fruit leathers to granola, herbs, dried apples, and dried peppers, as I described.
Of those that have dehydrators, which ones are you all using?
I’m still using my oven on fan, saving up for a dehydrator. Using the oven takes considerably more electricity than a dedicated dehydrator. I would like a solar one, but they can be hard to manage in the subtropics, when there is often a lot of rain during that time of year you most want to use it.
I will be interested to hear what everyone has to say. From reviews and specs, I’m looking at an Excalibur despite the “Australia Tax” where many consumer goods cost double what they do in the US or Europe, substantially more than you would expect taking into account the rate of exchange and cost of shipping.
I have the Excalibur 3900 and really like it. It dries extremely evenly on all nine trays. Unfortunately the 3900 doesn’t have a timer, but I picked up a timer-plug adapter that solved that problem. There are a lot of dehydrators out there at very reasonable prices, but NEVER buy a dehydrator that doesn’t use a fan or you will be constantly swapping tray positions. I don’t use it for everything, because other methods such as microwave, filtered box fan, and herb ice cubes work better for certain items. When it comes to dried fruit or veggies, you can’t beat the Excalibur.
Hotwired, I’ve seen the filtered box fan suggested for jerky, but dismissed it because of having to discard the filters after each batch. What do you use it for?
The 9 tray excalibur is $440, without timer, $470 with timer in Australia. Excalibur seems to be the only one that doesn’t require trays to be shuffled around to even out the drying.
I use the fan-filter-bunji system for drying parsley, sage, basil and large leaf herbs. I dry Thyme and small leaf herbs in the microwave, and freeze basil and parsley in ice cube trays for sauce and scampi. The 3900 Deluxe 9-tray Excalibur sells over here for US$ 219.99 (AU$ 214.93).
I store bulk herbs in canning jars under vacuum to keep them fresh. Foodsaver vacuum sealers have jar attachments that work great for storing dried herbs, fruit, etc. Being able to vacuum seal your dehydrated goodies really extends the value of a dehydrator.
Thanks for the reply, HW. I freeze coriander, basil and grated ginger and turmeric in sandwich zip top bags. No need to chop the coriander or basil as a bit of post freezing bashing will chop the frozen herbs in the bag.
I bought a vac sealer recently and use it mostly with the containers also sold by the company. They really do extend the refrigerated life of washed and trimmed carrots, zukes, cukes celery etc. It is a big help when I dash in and still want to cook with fresh veg.
The two caps for using the sealer with ring and lid canning jars is of course not available here, but I can get them sent over. For me, they would be a replacement for using all those bags. Mostly to keep bulk dried beans fresher. I probably wouldn’t use enough dried herbs to bother filling a jar. Though it would clear a bit of space in the freezer getting the bulk purchased things like whole coriander seeds out of there and into jars. Problem here is finding enough cool storage. Summer is death on most things, including me.
I know what the price of the Excalibur is there and it makes me nuts. The factory even sells them for overseas and will add on the plug end you need. If I knew anyone coming this way, I’d be set, but the only postage is airfreight and is killing. Whatever happened to that 6 month, slow boat shipping I remember? The PO certainly doesn’t offer it anymore.
The Excalibur also has an adjustable temperature which would make it handy for ensuring that seeds to be saved were truly dry, but not cooked. Then pop them in a jar and vac seal. The two appliances really do complement each other.
Haha, I have an ancient Ronco (25 years old and counting) that works great, but I’m a low-maintenance type who doesn’t mind swapping trays. Nope, no fan, nope, no thermostat, nope, no timer, but I dry about 10 litre bags of tomatoes and in a good plum year, 4-5 litres of plums. My husband uses his (ANOTHER Ronco bought on craigslist for next to nothing) for peppers. That one is new-fangled – it has the herb tray and the fruit leather tray, neither of which I’ve used so far. Usually, I bunch herbs and hang them upside down.