Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Choosing a Dehydrator

5-Tray Excalibur w/Timer
(this is my model, the 5-tray with a Timer, in black)
My Christmas wishes were answered! I'm pleased to say I'm now proud owner of a sparkling new Excalibur dehydrator. And I've got to tell you... this thing is a champ. I can't wait to share with you the results of my efforts. Before embarking on my dehydrating projects, I asked a few friends who are experienced food-drying pros what they look for in choosing a dehydrator.

My pal Pirate Jeni (of, "I turned my old Papasan chair into a container garden" fame) said that she had a lower-end model once that had a heat source "that looks kind of like a hair dryer shoved into the stack of trays." It didn't dry her food evenly. The model she has now did not cost a lot of money, but having a top fan heat source made a ton of difference for her.

My From Scratch Club buddy and all-around superwoman, Heather, is also a fan of Excalibur (she uses the 9-tray model). She said she had a plastic dehydrator of a different brand that someone gave her, but found that upgrading to a more serious model was a great investment - the plastic model became brittle and broke apart after continued use. Heather really likes that her Excalibur allows her to adjust the shelves so she can dry things like kale (which doesn't lay flat when raw) and that she can lower the temperature and maintain a level of "rawness" in her dehydrated items.

I also asked the lovely folks at Excalibur what I should look for when choosing a dehydrator. The most important things to look for, according the Excalibur, are good air circulation paired with a self-adjusting thermostat to create a "dried from the inside-out" environment. If you plan on making jerky or dehydrating other forms of meat, be sure your dehydrator says it is approved to dry meat. Some models may not have high enough temperature levels to kill the bacteria in raw meat, so look out!

So if you are also thinking of buying a dehydrator, look for the following features:

- A top fan to create an even dehydrating environment

- Adjustable shelves so you can dehydrate bulky things

- Multiple temperature settings to create different levels of dryness (things can be "dried" but still "raw")

- "Approve to dehydrate meat" language in the model description

- Horizontal airflow to ensure that each item in your dehydrator has proper air circulation

Thankfully, my model has all these features! Stay tuned for more dehydrating posts! Do you have a dehydrator? What model do you have? Any suggestions for buying a dehydrator?

This post is sponsored by Excalibur. To check out their complete line of products, please visit their website.


Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

I'm SO happy you wrote about this! I've been hemming and hawing about buying a dehydrator because I wasn't sure which one to purchase. Thanks so much for your post!!

Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) said...

Yay Staci! I'm glad to hear this way helpful! Please keep me in the loop of your dehydrating efforts.

Kitchen Ninja said...

LUCKY YOU! I've had the same model for a number of years now and wouldn't trade it for anything. I've got some excellent dehydrator recipes to share on my blog -- I particularly love the ones for chicken jerky (suitable for dogs as well as people) and dehydrated watermelon.