on May 4, 2013
I read all about the different dehydrators and reviews of so many models. And since most of the reviews were good no matter what unit it was, I could not figure out which one to buy.
...then found a user group who wrote a detailed review of pros and cons of different units and the strengths and weaknesses etc. it became very obvious that this style and brand of dehydrator WITH A TIMER is the only way to go. It
works so well. i also bought the "Pack of 9 Premium 14" x 14" Non-Stick Dehydrator Sheets- For Excalibur". you need these sheets for lots of reasons, you will see once you get going.
I have had it for 3 days and have used it for kale, strawberries, apples, pears, bananas, pears, sprouted sunflower seeds pumpkins seeds and almonds. Everything comes out fantastic. Rotate the trays and try different temps too. But start some of the fruits out on the sheets and once they are slightly dry peel them of the sheets and put directly onto the racks liners and they will dry faster. keep a sheeted tray in the bottom position and you will make a little less mess, but its no big deal to clean if some stuff collects in the bottom anyway.
a tip...if you have a bowl of mixed stuff you dehydrated at different temps like seeds at 105 and fruit at 135 and you want to "freshen it up a bit" (so your friends can taste it at its best), just dump a nice pile of the whole mixture on a sheeted tray an hour before they arrive, and run it at like 100-105 before serving.
on January 13, 2014
I have been using this almost everyday since it arrived a couple of weeks ago. I am very pleased with the fabulous kale chips I have made and I have found a way to make good, safe beef jerky for my dog. It does take some experimentation though. The dehydrator itself seems to be of more than adequate quality made of a very sturdy type of plastic. It has a heater, fan and timer so as long as those components last I will be happy. The fan is quieter than I thought it would be. It is about as noisy as my very quiet dishwasher. Regarding the size, I have filled all five trays with only 2 bunches of kale so if you are thinking of using a dehydrator to make kale chips or other treats, I think it is worthwhile to make enough to serve more than 1 or 2 people at a time. The kale chips go very fast in my house. I also bought an inexpensive slicer as I think it is important to make thin slices of equal size to dehydrate adequately, especially of certain foods, such as beef jerky or sweet potatoes. I think a dehydrator is a good way to prepare foods in a different, yet healthy way....dehydration preserves the enzymes in contrast to cooking which destroys enzymes....but I have discovered that meat does need to be cooked to 160 degrees F. before dehydration to destroy harmful organisms. Measure the temperature with a meat thermometer. Using this method I have dehydrated beef jerky for my dog which turned out to be delicious. I know it is delicious because I can eat it myself. Three lbs. of round roast turns into 3/4 lb. of tender, melt in your mouth morsels, if you slice it thin enough and marinate it after cooking in a very weak beef boulion (no salt for dogs). My very fussy dog loves it. Thicker slices will make a chewier product.
.....UPDATE....It's been a few weeks since my initial review and I am still very pleased. Just want to add a note about the DRYER SHEETS. I bought a pack of 9 dryer sheets that go with the dehydrator. I used 3 of them and ruined them, I think, right off the bat. They absorbed some oil from the kale chips I was making and, after much effort, soap and hot water, I could not wash the oil out in my sink, in which the sheets did not fit...a very awkward process. One might do a better job by using the bathtub but I am not prepared to do that. I have not used these dryer sheets since. I have been using parchment paper (love it) or the mesh liners that came with they dehydrator. The mesh liners are much easier to clean. The choice of which liner to use is dependent upon what you are dehydrating. Sweet potato chips are fine on the mesh liners. Somewhat drippy marinated beef works well with parchment paper. These are my preferences so far.
Another note about SAFETY AND BEEF JERKY...I am now NOT precooking the beef but turning the dehydrator temp. to max (165 F.) for 1 hour, then I rotate the trays and dry them at max. for 1 more hour, finishing the process at a lower temp. I rotate the trays because the temperature is uneven since the heater is at the back of the unit. I am trusting this is sufficient to kill harmful organisms that may exist in meat products (see FDA recommendations for more information). All the beef jerky recipes I have seen so far don't address this issue and often tell you to use the temperature guide that came with your dehydrator. The temperature guide on my dehydrator says 145 degrees F. for meat. I only discovered this safety issue by surfing the web for recipes and recommendations about beef jerky. I think I will put a meat thermometer in the trays to see exactly what temperature is being achieved while drying my next batch of beef jerky. The beef jerky is still amazing, using this higher temperature method. Incidentally, I find my new electric slicer is a critical piece of equipment to cut the meat (frozen) and vegies thinly and evenly enough to dehydrator properly.
Also, I registered my dehydrator with Excalibur and GOT A 10 YEAR WARRANTY even though I bought the dehydrator from Amazon.com. I spoke with a representative of Excalibur about this before doing my online registration who outlined the warranty coverage for me.
Happy dehydrating people!
on May 8, 2013
I just got my Excalibur stainless steel dehydrator with stainless steel trays. I do not feel comfortable with using plastic to cook, which is another reason I got rid of my microwave a few years ago.. I think more raw, natural, the better -
I ordered this directly from Excalibur, not Amazon, to get the 10 year warranty. I researched many types of dehydrators. I've never had one, but eat mostly vegan, and decided that this was the next step to more alkaline food, tasty healthy treats, saving the planet from packaging, etc...
I ordered this Monday 5.6.13, and it was delivered today 5.8.13!!! So far the service is excellent!!
Out of the box, I read the instructions, read the cookbooks, and put the door handles on, and plugged it in!! It's been "going" all day! I've made banana, apple, potato, sweet potato, spinach, cilantro, green onions, and they are almost all done (6 + hrs later) . . .
I am so glad I got the 9 tray, as many of the other writers suggested, since 1 potato ( very thinly sliced) took 3 trays alone!! Once things shrink, they can be moved to make more space, but initially, the items take up a full tray. One apple too 2 trays.. until it started to shrink.
This product is well made, and I am so happy I spent the "big" bucks, and got the stainless steel trays... It's so simple and easy! I can't wait for holiday season, to give gifts to people.
So, it's ready to go, out of the box, basically... fits on the counter nicely - and doesn't make much noise at all! It's been working hard all day and I highly recommend this to anyone wanting a dehydrator. This and my Vitamix are my 2 favorite and most expensive items in my kitchen. I think they are both made to last a life time, and the companies have excellent customer service.
So far so good!
on July 20, 2013
So, my wife is the one who uses it and I had to wait to see if she thought it was worth the price. Now that she has used it a few times and learned how it works, it seems to accomplish the task for which it was intended and does so with as little fuss as possible. I'll update this as time goes on. One thing I know is great. I bought the model with the timer, and as she usually only finds time to do her stuff late at night, it is great that she can turn on the timer and go to bed. That makes the additional cost for the timer worth every cent of its cost.
on July 11, 2015
In terms of a dehydrator, I love it. However, I wish I would have bought a 10 trays instead of the 5. With the 5 trays, you can't really fill up 5 trays of kales. The gap is extremely too tight. So, I end up using 2 or 3 trays to do kale chips. Unless, you are doing something really flat such as crackers, or fruit roll-ups then you can use all 5 trays for it.
on August 10, 2014
This dehydrator is easy to use and effective, but I had to resolve some issues to get to this conclusion. The unit I received from Amazon did not come with instructions or warrantee information. That seemed odd. Worse was that unit vibrated so much that I had to leave the door off and put weights on the top of the unit to minimize the noise. I still could not run it during the night. I was afraid I had a product from a company without significant competition...a company that was getting lazy in its quality control. I called Excalibur customer service and complained about the vibration. They FedEx'd a new unit with prepaid return label for the old unit and I'm now a happy customer. The new unit even came with a booklet of instructions and warrantee information. It was, however, missing one of the plastic grids that fit on the drawers. So quality control may be an issue, but at least they stand behind their product.
I debated whether to get the 9 or 5 drawer unit and whether I needed the timer. I primarily dehydrate meals for backpacking so I needed the capability to dehydrate at a range of temperatures for vegetables through jerky. The five drawers seem to be plenty for two people as long as you plan ahead. Plus the 5 drawer costs less and uses less energy. I like that the drawers don't stack like my last unit. That makes removing individual drawers and examining their contents easy. The drawers are square so it doesn't matter how they are oriented. Items at the back of the drawer seem to dry faster, but rotating the drawer is easy. I was disappointed the Excalibur teflon sheets were an additional expensive purchase, so I opted for the generic teflon sheets available at Amazon. Those have worked out well. I'm still not sold on the necessity of the timer. More often than not, the unit shuts off before the items are dry. But if you're a busy person, maybe the timer would be critical. And maybe it will just take me some time to learn how to use it.
on May 10, 2015
I love the dehydration, but the machine is hard to clean. I've had it for 2-3 years. The container and door are poorly-designed. There's no reason why it couldn't have a removable bottom or removable motor so you could hose it out. I'd use it at least 10 times more often if I didn't hate cleaning it.
I have a WHITE unit, with a black door. The texture of the plastic on the top makes any debris or sauces get stuck in the tiny cracks. You can't just wipe it down. You have to saturate it, scrub it, and use your nails or tiny brush bristles. And there are crevices everywhere where crumbs fall into. Even after cleaning it twice and putting it away, there are still crumbs rattling around when I pull it out again (even in my photos - yuck). And the white, textured top stains.
The dehydrator, temperature selector, and timer work GREAT (I think the timer is necessary because you have to dehydrate foods for long periods of time). But if you have something flaky (like kale chips), it will be maddeningly difficult to clean out the bottom and carefully wipe out/scrape each of the ledges where the trays sit. The trays are also very difficult to clean, especially if you don't have a very large sink, but they are easy compared to cleaning out the machine, which I have to do every time I use it. Good luck getting anything out of the narrow slot between the motor and the bottom.
Instead of having a dedicated place on my counter, this machine mainly sits in the closet. I cook quite frequently, so I'm really disappointed with this machine. I'm so tempted to give it 2 stars. My spouse tried to clean it last week. Even though I warned him it was annoying, he volunteered - but then after 5 minutes, declared he wanted to give this product a bad rating and warn people it's so ridiculously designed.
on January 11, 2015
If you are buying this dehydrator to cook raw foods, I do not recommend it. The timer and temperature controls are not digital (they are cheap knobs) which makes the true temperature a guess or rough estimate, at best. Additionally, I do not trust the dehydrator is actually cooking at the specified temperature. It seems to get much hotter than it should at a very low temperature setting. For the amount of money this item costs, I expected much better quality. The size and shape is also very impractical. You should check out the demensions before purchasing. The material is cheap plastic all around. I attached a photo of the terrible knobs. This item would be significantly improved with digital settings.
on February 17, 2016
I bought one of these thinking i was going to get a good dehydrator thatd last me a long while because of everything ive heard about them. Was very bummed out that when i plugged mine there was no fan running inside, followed by the smell of burning electrical and hot plastic because the back of the unit had become so hot you couldnt touch it. Trying again thanks to amazons return policy and will update my review pending receiving a working unit.
Update: I received a new unit in quick order only to plug it in and be met with a noise similar to a playing card in the spokes of a bicycle tire as the fan was obviously grating on something. Upon closer inspection and removal of the trays I could see an electrical wire being routed through the fan blades causing the racket. I was able to scoot the wire out of the fan with a skewer through a hole in the back of the unit but come on.....for being "Made in the USA" and carrying the price tag that these units do and the hype that they have I expect a far superior grade of craftsmanship and ready-to-go quality of product.than what I received not once but twice in a row. I feel sorry for other people who have experienced similar disappointment and werent able to find a working solution like I was.
Because of what I found with the new unit it prompted me to check the old unit which I still have yet to send back and I was saddened to see the same lack of quality control in the other unit. Again I removed the trays only to find an electrical wire wrapped around the fan blade in such a fashion that it was completely immobilized and non-functional which caused the severe overheating and noxious burning electrical smell that I experienced.
With the above disappointment understated....I am satisfied with its functionality once I made the necessary repairs out of box. It does dehydrate things as one would expect it to do. The timer and temperature control are lovely additions to any dehydrator and I like the tray design. I bought this unit because of the perceived good reputation that they had among the dehydrating community and intend to use it for years to come (hopefully) to dehydrate all of my backpacking meals and healthier snacks.
For the price tag and hype, I will say it again that I expected more which is why I am only giving this two stars. A person should not have to fix a product out of box of this "caliber" ESPECIALLY back to back.. If my opinion changes with use of the product I will update my review accordingly. Attached is a picture of the first unit with wire wrapped around the fan blade...its an easy fix but it shouldn't have to be fixed at all and could be avoided in my opinion with more care and wire management
on October 4, 2014
My Excalibur 3526TB 5 Tray Dehydrator with Timer arrived Wednesday this week, today is Saturday. Last weekend I decided we would dehydrate our plums as our tree was loaded with plums this year and I don't care for canned plums, I did four large cookie sheets of plums in my oven on the lowest setting (170 degrees) and decided that though they tasted good they were really more like baked than dehydrated, so I ordered this dehydrator . When I arrived home from work Wednesday evening my dehydrator was waiting for me, As I unpacked it I took photos of each step because so many people were complaining that it wasn't packaged well, mine was packaged well, the trays were all in their correct slots and nothing was jammed as I've read in others reviews, no cracks, no scratches, it's really nice looking and everything fits well. Wednesday evening I put the Excalibur to work filling all five trays with plums, the next day they were perfect, they looked like dried plums should look, not like the ones I'd done in the oven, those dried in my oven were tiny and tough. I had some pears left on my pear tree so did a couple trays of pears along with the plums the next run, the plums are good but the pears are great! We've kept this little guy going since Wednesday and right now it has 4 trays of fruit leather and one of pears. I love this dehydrator, I've never dehydrated food before and I think this is something I'll be doing from now on. Clean up is so easy, I do wish it had come with a couple of the paraflexx sheets. I ordered some from ebay and they arrived a couple days after the Excalibur, they were around $5.95 a sheet and are Excalibur brand. I think the size of the 5 tray unit is perfect for a 2 person household. The fan is a bit noisy but I have it in a room removed from the main living area so it's no bother. If you're considering this unit to purchase don't hesitate, it's great and appears to be one of the top recommended brands for home use. I would suggest getting one with a timer as you will not have to worry about leaving it running when away from home.