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Dehydrators


frugalmamatx
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Talk to me about food dehydrators please? I'd like to get one to make fruit leather, dried fruit snacks, dried veggies, and jerky. 

 

I did a quick search on the boards and saw the Excalibur brand was recommended - but those are out of my price range. Is there a decent model for under $50 out there? Or should I just buckle down and save / watch for a sale on the better models?

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Looks like a fun toy.  I haven't tried one myself though.

 

Once wanted to make tomato powder.  So basically you have to dehydrate tomatoes until they are very dry.  The instructions said to use the microwave.  Let's just say I blew up a Pyrex dish and started a fire in the microwave.  LOL

 

Not what you asked I realize.  I'm always eying the ones at Aldi, but because of what praire said maybe they aren't worth it.

 

 

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We just have the $60-80 one that you can find at most stores. It came with 4 trays, is round and has different heat settings.  It works very well for drying a variety of fruit, veggies and making jerky. Dh hunts so we make a lot of deer jerky on our own.  

 

Our first dehydrator we got in the 90s and it just quit working a couple of years ago. It does fine for drying herbs but doesn't have the heat for drying wetter items. We got a new one with a similar tray type so that we could use more or less with either machine.

 

I don't really see the sense in buying something that costs hundreds of dollars when the less expensive model works just fine. The only thing is that when I make jerky with the gun, I do turn them over once they've been drying for a couple of hours otherwise they dry around the grid on the trays and are impossible to remove. 

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I use to have one of those round ones.  It was a gift and I used it quite frequently.  I thought it was fine.  Eventually the quantity that I needed rose to the point where I couldn't keep up and upgraded to the Excalibur.  Now that I know the difference I wish I had upgraded much much sooner. Knowing what I know now, I would never bother with a smaller one.  The amount of effort was much higher and the quality was much lower. I would have to regularly rotate trays, it didn't really hold much, and it was a pain to remove many types of dried goods.  With the Excalibuer, I just bend the tray, and pour of my stuff into a jar.  Plus I can dry 3-4x as much and it takes less time.  So my advice is just keep saving.  It is totally worth it.

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Another thing you could do is cast about on your social networks to see if anyone has one they would loan you.  That's what we do - we borrow our neighbour's whenever we need to dehydrate something and give her a bit of what we've dehydrated in return (on occasion - sometimes she doesn't want any of it).  This had the added advantage of being free and letting us test it out to see if we liked the result, if it was easy enough to use, what we did/didn't like about that particular model.  It turns out we don't use one enough to actually buy one so while our neighbour is happy to loan it, we are happy to stick with this arrangement.

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We have a Nesco dehydrator. Not the top of the line, but it works for us. We have two other cheaper ones, but it is time to offload those. 
We dry bananas, apples, tomatoes (when the garden is overproducing), and strawberries mostly. 

We've done pineapple too (yummy) and peaches (okay). 

It gets used a lot during strawberry season especially as we save those to add to cereal. When apples are in season, it gets used often again.

 

I wish it were smaller just from a storage space perspective.

 

ETA: I forgot about grapes. We make raisins too. So much better than store bought raisins.

Edited by Bambam
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Save your money and get an Excalibur.

 

I've been regularly dehydrating for about 25 years (I'm 41). I've used cheap ones and a 9-tray Excalibur (that I lost in my divorce). The quality difference between the two types is astounding. The best cheap one I had wouldn't dry well enough to prevent growth.

 

The next time I get one, I'm getting this one: http://www.excaliburdehydrator.com/shop/tray-dehydrators/5-tray/radiant-5-tray-w-plastic-trays .... in pink ('cause I can)! I don't need the 9 tray again.

 

If you don't think you can save to this amount, because it really is expensive, I would recommend this one: http://www.cabelas.com/product/home-cabin/kitchen-dining/food-dehydrators|/pc/104798880/c/104739480/sc/104294880/cabela-s-six-tray-heavy-duty-dehydrator/2288560.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse%2Ffood-dehydrators%2F_%2FN-1101289%2B10000050%2FNe-10000050%3FWTz_st%3DGuidedNav%26WTz_stype%3DGNU

 

A friend of mine has it and while she's not as happy with it as she was with her Excalibur (she also lost hers in a divorce), but she says it's decent. AND, if you look right now, it's on sale at a *really* good price.

 

 

Kris

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