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Food dehydrator recommendations
August 26, 2009
1:50 pm
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marylundshu
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Hello,

We are new to dehyrdating and I am researching them.  Does anyone have a brand\\model to recommend.  My poor husband, dried 2 cookie sheets full of our Amish paste tomatos in our gas oven and burned them.  He is pretty mad at himself. 

Thanks, Mary Lund

August 26, 2009
2:31 pm
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WV_Hills
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marylundshu said:

Hello,

We are new to dehyrdating and I am researching them.  Does anyone have a brand\\model to recommend.  My poor husband, dried 2 cookie sheets full of our Amish paste tomatos in our gas oven and burned them.  He is pretty mad at himself. 

Thanks, Mary Lund


I have the Nesco/American Harvest Digital Pro dehydrator.  I like it because of the round trays with the central airflow.  You can also add additional trays.  I have six extra trays (you can dry multiple trays at one time) and I also have the mesh screens that fit in the trays for drying small things (herbs for example) and the solid insert for drying wet ingredients (like making fruit leathers.)

http://tinyurl.com/mde4ca

I also have the Excalibur – a square model with five fixed trays. I've had this one longer, but I find I use the Nesco one more often because of the versatility.  You can dry one tray or 10 at a time with the Nesco.

http://tinyurl.com/7pwvs5

August 26, 2009
7:15 pm
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wvhomecanner
North Central WV
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If you are going to dehydrate often and want to make an investment in your food storage, Excalibur is the best bet hands down. I bought the 9 tray Excal in the Spring of 08 with some of my 'stimulus' money (figured I could stimulate my OWN budget too lol). I love this thing. I had a Ronco for years with no fan or temp control and have 2 now in the basement and while they are good for jerky, you definitely want a fan and a temp control for really efficient dehydrating. Kathy, not sure what you mean by 'fixed' trays but what really sold me on the Excal is that one or any trays can be removed to make headroom when drying fluffy things like a pile of fresh spinach. I have taken several out and used it to dry a much loved ball cap :))

In an Excal the fan is in the back and the air flows across the trays.

scroll down this page about halfway to see an Excalibur like mine

http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/dehydrators.aspx

For less investment and smaller drying surface, Nesco/American Harvest makes some really nice  dehydrators too as Kathy said.

Since I bought my Excal I have a large stash of amazing things dried woohoo!

Dede

If common sense were truly common, wouldn't there be more evidence of it?

August 26, 2009
10:22 pm
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WV_Hills
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wvhomecanner said:

…Kathy, not sure what you mean by 'fixed' trays but what really sold me on the Excal is that one or any trays can be removed to make headroom when drying fluffy things like a pile of fresh spinach. I have taken several out and used it to dry a much loved ball cap :) )

Dede


I guess I should have said that you can't expand and add more trays, not that you can't remove them.  I use both, but the thermostatic control and the central airflow are the two things I like about the Nesco.  That and the versatility of adding extra trays when you need them.

August 27, 2009
8:41 am
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Suzanne McMinn
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I have the Nesco, which you can see in my post about drying peppers:

http://suzannemcminn.com/blog/2009/08/03/homemade-crushed-hot-peppers/

I really like it, but I've never had any other dehydrator, so I can't make any comparisons.

Clover made me do it.

August 27, 2009
9:57 am
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beeyourself
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I have the Nesco…and I think that if you are just an occasional food-drier-outer…it works great!  We make lots of venison jerky…

August 27, 2009
10:18 am
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Mo olelo
Central Nebraska
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Just last week, I ordered an Excalibur dehydrator as it was highly recommended on various blogs that I read.

We have a whole list of things we want to dry.   Dave wants to do jerky, of course.  And I want to dry various fruits and herbs.

And one thing I learned after I'd ordered the Excalibur, but which confirmed for me that we made the right choice is that you can make yogurt in it by taking out all but the bottom rack.  

Oh… and you can also proof bread in it which will come in handy this winter.

It's supposed to get here sometime today and not a day too soon.  The list of things we want to make in it is getting longer and longer.

Come visit me at:
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Or check out my newest venture: www.prosperityangels.net

November 23, 2010
3:09 pm
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moldy
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I have a ronco, an american harvest, and an excaliber.  I really like the Excaliber best.  Thin sheets that are flexible, so I don't have to peel off each dried piece when they're dry; I just bend the sheet in half and slide into a bag to store the dried item.  It has worked great for everything from herbs, to potatoes, to fruit, to sunflower seeds.  The Excaliber is pretty pricy, but I got mine marked down in the clearance cave at Cabelas.

 

I don't use any dehydrator for jerky – I use the smoker for that.  I just like the texture better from the smoker.

November 23, 2010
5:19 pm
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tsmith
Arizona
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I have just a cheap, no frills Nesco.  It doesn't have the temp control or anything.  I can't complain.  It was given to me by someone who didn't use it.  When I have run this one into the grave, I will invest in something like an Excal.  I know I will use it.  I use my cheapie all the time.  My husband says that he is going to bury me with it because it is almost always running.  I just used it to dry my bread cubes for stuffing.

November 23, 2010
7:49 pm
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Helen
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I have an Excaliber.  Its really pretty old now, but it still works like a champ and I just love it…it was worth every penny we paid for it.

George Orwell - 1984
- Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

December 7, 2010
2:29 pm
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ticka1
Baytown, Texas
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I really like the Excalibur – the one they are currently advertising for $209. 

 

Lots of great posts here in this section – looking forward to reading and educating myself.

Canning and dehydrating will now become a part of my life.

December 7, 2010
2:53 pm
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kellyb
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I have 2 1/2 Excalibur dehydrators, I share one with a friend.  I love them.  I got 2 of them as refurbished models from the Excalibur website.  Right now they have a 3900 with a 10 year warranty for $169.00.  That's a great price.  From what I understand, the units are brand new and not used.  I've got apples and oranges drying in one of mine and I'm making yogurt in the other right now.  Love my Excals.

December 8, 2010
2:56 pm
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ticka1
Baytown, Texas
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kellyb said:

I have 2 1/2 Excalibur dehydrators, I share one with a friend.  I love them.  I got 2 of them as refurbished models from the Excalibur website.  Right now they have a 3900 with a 10 year warranty for $169.00.  That's a great price.  From what I understand, the units are brand new and not used.  I've got apples and oranges drying in one of mine and I'm making yogurt in the other right now.  Love my Excals.


Kellyb – how do you make yogurt?  Do they have instructions on the site? 

Canning and dehydrating will now become a part of my life.

December 8, 2010
4:10 pm
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kellyb
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I don't have a “recipe” on site but here's what I do.  If using store bought milk I heat it to 170 degrees.  I often do this in my crockpot so I don't have to worry about burning it.  I then allow it to cool below 110 degrees so as not to kill the starter.  I use about 2 tablespoons of starter per 3 quarts of yogurt.  Starter is just any yogurt that has active cultures.  Using more starter won't make your yogurt thicker, it will just make it tarter.  After the milk has cooled, I mix the starter in the milk.  Mix thoroughly.  I then pour the mixture into wide mouth quart jars and place on the bottom of my Excal, close the door and set the temp to 105 degrees.  I allow it to incubate for 6 1/2 -8 1/2 hours.  After it's done I put it in the fridge, it firms up as it cools and in the morning I've got yogurt. 

Don't stir or shake the jars while you're incubating your yogurt, I've found that seems to disturb the process.  If you want thicker yogurt, you can add powdered milk or mix in some unflavored gelatin.  I don't add any sugar or anything else. 

If using milk straight from the cow I don't heat higher than 140 degrees, allow to cool and then add the starter. 

This yogurt won't be like store bought because there are no thickeners or gelatin,etc.  It's mighty tasty and is wonderful in smoothies, cooking and just eating plain.  Different starters will give different degrees of tartness.  Experiment and find what you like.  You can use the yogurt you make as a starter to make more.  After awhile it may not be as effective and you might have to buy new.  Hope that helps.  If you have any other questions, ask away.  It's super easy and inexpensive to make your own yogurt.

December 8, 2010
9:06 pm
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Shabbysewer
New England
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I have an excalibur 9 tray. I thought about buying the smaller 4 tray model, but glad I bought the bigger model. Ten pounds of strawberries can dry at one time. Eight to ten pounds of apple slices (yum!)

It seemed like a big expense at the time, but it's one of my “power tools”. lol

Dried celery, carrots and onions for almost ” instant soups”, added to broths, with meat and/or beans and some rice or pasta. Definitely a great way to use up those bits of veggies and fruits that otherwise would be thrown away. I cannot say enough about the excalibur. It is a great dehydrator.surprised

May 4, 2011
5:23 pm
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brookdale
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I found a used Ronco dehydrator at a thrift shop today, almost bought it, but it had no top cover so I didn't. Did I make a mistake? Are the covers available somewhere? Is this a good brand? It looked to be made entirely of plastic so I wondered about the heat.

So, dehydrating friends, should I go back tomorrow and get it? Or forget it?

Remember, if it rains on your picnic it's also raining on your garden!

May 4, 2011
5:50 pm
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BuckeyeGirl
N.E. Ohio
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Well, one of those brand new costs roughly $20 for a new 2 tray one and approx $40 for a 5 tray one, so far, I haven't found anyplace to get any parts at all, though there may be a source… just haven't found it yet. 

I hear they're decent enough though, better than nothing. Can't personally tell you more than that, though hopefully someone else will speak up! 

Located in N.E. Ohio

May 4, 2011
7:34 pm
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wvhomecanner
North Central WV
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I have 2 Roncos in the basement. Ronco was the only dehydrator that I had for years and years. I now have a 9 tray Excalibur so the Roncos are semi-retired but not going away. If you have no dehydrator and are on a tight budget, get a Ronco if you find one dirt cheap. The plastic is no problem – most all are plastic. The Ronco has no fan but I would just rotate the trays and it worked. Would even dry jerky overnight. The top cover is just a plastic dome with a couple of adjustable vents. Plastic wrap can replace it with a couple of holes punched in to let out moisture.

 

HTH?

 

dede

If common sense were truly common, wouldn't there be more evidence of it?

May 4, 2011
8:30 pm
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Pete
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Looked all over the Ronco site and see nowhere to order parts. 

https://www.ronco.com/FoodDehydrator/Default.aspx

The Popeil Family Store site is now closed, so that is no help either.  But there seem to be plenty for sale here and there around the ‘net.

Another thought – if you are not up for purchasing the Excal, and buying a Ronco is better for you than doing without a dehydrator, if the price is right at the thrift store, might it be good enough for spare parts and extra trays to add on to a new Ronco that you might pick up online or somewhere?  Or just covering it with plastic as Dede suggested, if the price is right.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

May 4, 2011
9:37 pm
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BuckeyeGirl
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That's a good idea Pete!  if the thrift store is uber cheap, you could buy a 2 tray one and use the trays from the thrift store purchase to convert it to a 4 or 5 tray one!…assuming they're the same size trays.  Not sure if it's a practical idea or not.

Located in N.E. Ohio

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