Dehydrators : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

I believe I am in need of a dehydrator....Does anyone here have experience that would affect a brand decision? I understand the Excalibur is the creme de la creme, and it sure costs as though it's great, but what of the other ones? Is it really that much better? Do the others, like American Harvest just stink? I have dried things in my oven, but it tends to be a bit difficult to regulate. It is often too humid here for successful unassisted drying. Thanks for your ideas!

-- Doreen (, February 10, 2002


Excalibur is the best, no doubt about it. I've run the dog out of mine and it is still going strong. I made so much deer jerky the grease destroyed the plastic bottom on my dehydrator. I called the Excalibur people and they sold me a whole new case and shipped it to me for about $50.

A slicer or mandoline is a must have for dehydrating vegetables and fruits. Another good tool is a vacuum unit: if you combine vacuuming in glass jars with dehydration you get a product that is so flavor fresh and shelf stable as long as you keep the jars in cool dark dry storage the food lasts indefinately.

But be warned that down here in the Gulf South, sometimes even the best dehydrator can't do much. When the vapor pressure and temp get near 85% humidity and 100 degrees F, you can forget about dehydration.

I can and freeze and dehydrate and I tell you truly, dehydration is the easiest and most fun way to go.

-- Rags (, February 11, 2002.

I made mine,, wooden frames,with window screening,,, made it so I can hang them outside on a good day,,or inside on a clothes drying rack on not so good days. Veggies, jerkey,, and herbs are dry very well, clean up,, can be with a hose

-- Stan (, February 11, 2002.

I like my American Harvest, not had a bit of trouble drying anything with it.

-- Cindy (SE. IN) (, February 11, 2002.

I too have an American Harvest. I've not had a bit of trouble with it and it does a great job of drying. Where did you get the idea, Doreen, that they aren't any good? They sure beat the price of the Excaliber!

-- Barb in Ky. (, February 11, 2002.

I have actually gotten 5 seasons use so far out of my $15 five tray magic chef units purchased at Wal Mart and the convection units I purchased from Ronco for $40 each, 10 years ago have only degraded in performance by about a 20 percent time factor, but I only use them for finishing anyway. Don't know if the MC brands are U.S. made, but the ones I bought from Ronco were, just not a "name brand".

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, February 11, 2002.

Last year was I think the 6th season for the one my daughter gave me as a gift----it is a "Air*Ma" brand----with six trays---I know it had to have not cost much money as she doesn't have a lot of money to spend!! It has worked great fo all I use it for---I dry veggies & lots of herbs!

-- Sonda in Ks. (, February 11, 2002.

Doreen, I love my American Harvest and have been using it for over ten years. Why do you think they stink?? I have 20 trays, most with accompanying berry screens, and can tower them and rotate every few hours while I am awake and accomplish a huge amount of drying.

We dryed bushels of Roma tomatoes to take with us for cooking in Haiti, as well as tons of strawberries etc.

-- diane (, February 11, 2002.

I agree with all these posters that there are a lot of ways to dry and drying is easy. The main difference in Excal. and Am.Harvest is design: Excals blow hot air across the trays; Am. Harvests blow hot air up from the bottom though a stack of trays. Both ways work fine; if you don't dehydrate much, the Am. Harvests are cheaper and you can add trays to hold more food when you need.

-- Rags (, February 11, 2002.

I think the directions for making them are on the Rocky Mountain Survival Group site. It's I've been thinking about making one, assuming I can get anything to grow this year. I have a couple of very old, very small fans here that my parents had and I don't think I would have to buy many materials as I have an almost inexhaustible supply of resources, i.e.--junk, trash, things that should be been hauled off and weren't--from which to draw. I suppose that if you were not about the fourth generation of packrats and had to buy all this good stuff, it would probably be cheaper to get one ready made though.

-- Green (, February 11, 2002.

I didn't mean to imply that American harvest were junk---I just don't know anything about them and was looking for opinions. Sometimes there is a tremendous difference in appliances and I was just wondering if it would be one of those scenarios. Thanks very much for your replies!!! I hope I didn't upset anyone~~~~~~~:)~~~~~~~~~

I have plans for one that involves using stove pipe zipped together in a cochlear shape to facilitate conveccion, but I have read some reports that people around here have molding with non electrified dehydrators because of the humidity. Course when we have no rain for 45 days that will not be an issue, but I am seriously praying that isn't the case this year!

-- Doreen (, February 11, 2002.

Doreen, in your neck of the woods I don't think you should need an electric dryer. Old screens on bricks should do fine, maybe a small fan blowing across. Had a neighbor that just used an old worked. If I were doing anything but electric, actually I do this with all my stuff since my big bug episode with my dryed cherries, I would put stuff in the freezer for 48 hours in sealed jars to pasturize.

-- diane (, February 11, 2002.

So do you pasturize before or after dehydrating?

-- Doreen (, February 11, 2002. never know when those little bug eggs get laid. Maybe I didn't tell about my "jar of worms" here?? It was gross!!!

-- diane (, February 11, 2002.

That problem with mold spores and insect eggs is one of the best reasons to combine vacuum storage with dehydration. Extra heating such as pasteurization lowest the food value and quality. A good high vacuum makes all insect and spore respiration impossible and also takes away the oxygen food needs to decay.

-- Rags (, February 12, 2002.

Does freezing take away food value?? What vaccum sealer do you use??

-- diane (, February 12, 2002.

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