I got a chance to try an Excalibur dehydrator after using my friend’s garage sale dehydrator for the past few months. Oh wow what a difference! I knew that Excalibur had a really good reputation, but I didn’t realize how much more effecient it would be than an off-brand model. The main reason I wanted one was because they were square and were a better use of space than a round one.
But besides being a more efficient use of space, the heater/fan is in the back, which means that all trays dry at the same time. The front cover just lifts off, then the trays are easy to slide in and out, rather than the stacking kind that I had before. They remove for cleaning or yogurt, which I just placed right on the bottom of the dehydrator (pictures below). As Excalibur recommended, I left the sheets for making fruit leather on the bottom as a liner- and they just wipe off to clean!
This is a 5-tray model without the timer, and you can use as many or as few trays as you need. I think it’s a great size. The trays are big- I was able to do 5 lbs of bison jerky on just three of them. When I showed my husband the trays of beef that were drying he was impressed with the size, “You could fit an entire antelope in there!” (he means once it’s been butchered, perhaps this hunting season I could show more of that whole process- with ample warning to skip the post if you don’t want to see!)
The book Preserve it Naturally is inspirational to look through too. It gives directions for drying anything, and the pictures show you what to do. Hubby skipped right to the meat section, and I was curious about making fruit leather (which really is easy!). There was instructions for easy homemade cottage cheese in there too, which I’m going to try soon!
Some things I’m looking forward to using my dehydrator for:
- Found a great deal on ripe produce? Stock up and dry it for future use! We just bought a bunch of strawberries, and while we could have eaten them all in one day, we dried some to save for the future (pictured below).
- Spinach- I buy 3 lbs of spinach at once at Costco, and we don’t always use it all before it starts to go bad, not to mention how much room it takes in the fridge. I have been using about half, drying the other half to use later. (pictured)
- Yogurt! So easy, stick it in and ignore it for 24 hours.
- Jerky- a great snack for day trips out, or even back packing if we were doing that. Save loads by doing your own, and only have the ingredients in it that you want.
- Produce from the garden. We just planted a bunch of tomato plants because store tomatoes don’t even compare to home grown ones. I’m especially excited about drying them to use this winter in soups.
- Cleaner snacks for the kids: I love giving my children fresh fruit as snacks, but dried fruit is so much easier for when I don’t have the option of hosing them off washing their hands and changing their clothes.
And some pictures of the first few things I used my dehydrator for:
Beef jerky! I’ve made bison jerky as well. I love that these dry evenly and in less than a day.