- Food and Cooking
Does the Excalibur Dehydrator Live Up to the Hype? My 2 Year Update
5 Reasons I chose the Excalibur
- Square shaped trays = less wastage and being able to cut neat, straight strips of fruit leather and jerky
- It's the only brand with a setting low enough to make raw foods without killing enzymes, as well as dry meat and fish at a high enough temperature to be safe
- The fan at the back of the machine ensures it not only dries all your food evenly, but it also makes the Excalibur far more energy efficient than other dehydrators
- It has a reputation for quality, and has an automatic 1 year warranty as well as optional (and very cheap) 10 year warranty
- It's super easy to clean, and that's the number 1 priority for this busy family
Excalibur - the best known dehydrator on the market
My husband and I are lucky enough to own an organic farm that grows delicious tropical fruits and vegetables all year round. The problem is, even after selling our produce at the local markets, we're still left with far too much for us to consume ourselves before it goes bad.
That's why for the last few years I've been dreaming of getting a dehydrator to preserve our leftover produce as well as create products such as fruit leathers, dried herbs and so on.
Having only started our farm recently, we're not rolling in money. So as you can imagine I put a lot of thought and research into choosing a dehydrator. I'd made the mistake of buying low cost equipment before and ended up having to replace it within a few months.
So I was sure that spending a bit more on the best quality dehydrator on the market would be a good investment and lead to less frustration down the line. After reading hundreds of reviews, I chose the 9 tray Excalibur, crossed my fingers and hoped I'd made the right decision.
The one, the only Excalibur
Excalibur - the best decision ever
After 2 years of constant use, we're even more in love with our Excalibur today than when we first bought it. Here's why:
- It's saved us hundreds of dollars in ready-made snacks.
No sugar added fruit leathers, beef jerky, dried yogurt strips, dried fruits (mangoes, apples, pineapple rings...), sprouted grain crackers and and no-oil granolas are just some of the easy and tasty snack foods we've made in the Excalibur.
- It helps reduce waste from the garden and farm
This summer, we had dozens of heirloom tomato plants that needed to be pruned before ripening. Without the dehydrator, I would have been stuck over the stove for hours making green tomato chutney. Instead, I steamed, pureed and dehydrated the green tomatoes into a delicious fruit leather than we can snack on for months to come.
- Dehydrated food takes up less space
Canning and freezing are good for certain foods, but boy do they take up room! I don't have the time or money for a huge chest freezer or canning jars and shelves. Dehydrated foods become compact, and you can just stack up zip-loc bags full of dried food in any pantry. Easy.
- You can preserve food while you're asleep
Hands up who enjoys standing over a big pot of jam or chutney for hours in the heat, stirring constantly so it doesn't stick. I sure don't. The great thing about having a dehydrator like the Excalibur is being able to chop up foods, place them in the machine and leave it during the night or while out running errands. Several Excalibur models have in-built timers, although you can always attach a timer plug to any socket for peace of mind.
- There are no parts to replace or regularly buy
I've had the experience several times of being halfway through making a big pot of jam and realising I was out of canning jars or seals. With the Excalibur, all you need is there and will last for years. The BPA-free plastic trays are wiped clean with a cloth and warm soapy water to be reused hundreds of times.
Excalibur dehydrator for making dried fruit
What can you do with an Excalibur dehydrator?
A non-exhaustive list of alternative uses:
- Prove regular or sourdough yeast doughs
- Dry flowers and fruit peels for pot pourri (I use pineapple skins, used vanilla pods and ginger peels for a fragrant tropical mix)
- Dry freshly developed photos
- Sprout grains and dehydrate them ready to be ground into nutritious sprouted flour
- Make raw crackers, pizza dough, tart crusts and more
- Dry homegrown herbs to use all year long in your cooking
- Make your own sundried (well, Excalibur dried) tomatoes that rival store bought ones
- Incubate and culture yoghurt, kefir or other fermented foods
- Get those stale chips and croutons crispy again
- Dehydrate spread out applesauce, or spiced pumpkin puree to make a delicious chewy snack
- Make kale chips
- Dry out letters that had liquid spilt on them (don’t ask me how I learnt this)
- Soak nuts then dehydrate them until crispy to make to make them more digestible and nutritious
- Make vegetable chips using beets, sweet potato, or anything else you have lying around
- Make pet treats for your furry friends
- Dry homemade pasta for storage
- Prepare a trail mix for upcoming hiking trips or post-exercise snacks
- Make a dried soup mix that can be rehydrated in minutes
- Dehydrate cooked meals to rehydrate quickly while camping or hiking
- Dry salt dough crafts
- Dehydrate flavoured yogurt to make a protein and probiotic rich chewable treat
- Make jerky out of meat, chicken, fish (or even tofu)
- Make crispy granola without having to add oil
- Turn any fruit into delicious fruit roll ups or ‘leather’ that’s better than any store bought version
Excalibur dehydrator for making fruit leathers
What extras do you need to get started dehydrating?
Many online reviewers say that you need to buy Excalibur's Paraflexx drying sheets, as well as special recipe books, heavy duty storage bags and more to start dehydrating. These accessories add up quickly and before you know it you’ll be shelling out another $50 on top of the dehydrator price.
My advice? Slow down and start simply. Although my machine came with 12 Paraflexx sheets and a small recipe book, I would be ok without them. I’m getting along just fine looking up free recipes online, using baking paper to spread my fruit leather on, and using recycled jars and ice-cream containers to store my creations in.
Even the official Excalibur website says you can use plastic wrap instead of their branded non-stick sheets. So please, before you get worried about all the extra costs of dehydrating, remember that you can do just fine by being creative and using what you have at home.
Vegan chefs LOVE the Excalibur
There are a few little things that bug me about the Excalibur. They aren't bad enough to make me switch brands, but they might be useful for someone thinking of investing in one.
- It's pretty big. I have plenty of counter space, but people short on space should get a smaller model.
- It's not cheap. Though to be fair, I made back the $200 I spent on the Excalibur within the first year of making our snack foods.
- It makes noise. I'd compare the humming noise to an old washing machine. Nothing extreme, but you notice it.
Drying information for common foods
Food to dehydrate
Apples (cut in thin rings)
7 - 15 hours
3 - 7 hours
4 - 6 hours
4 - 6 hours
5 - 9 hours