tell me why your food dehydrator is the best
March 22, 2011 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for a food dehydrator for a regular sized kitchen?

I've been reading lots of reviews, and they seem conflicting. Do you have a specific model of food dehydrator that you can recommend? What brands are good? I've been reading about the direction of the fans blowing, or whether convection heating is better, and that's been conflicting and confusing too. Any suggestions? I'd like to keep it under $100, or under $150 if there is a good enough reason to go more expensive.

I am looking to dry the usual - fruit, fruit leather, vegetables, jerky, bread, but it would also be awesome if it was usable to make yogurt or to rise bread (meaning, the trays come out but there is space to put something inside and turn the heat on).

It must have temperature control. Bonus points if there is a timer that automatically shuts off! My counterspace is sort of limited, so nothing too big.
posted by to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A convection oven, set to lowest possible temperature works very, very well.
Plus you can use it for an oven, and it doesn't take up any counter space that
wasn't already taken up with an oven.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:52 PM on March 22, 2011

I have the Excalibur dehydrator and am very happy with the results. It sits on top of my fridge, has a temperature control but no timer. Excellent consistency of dryness from one tray to the next. Noisy, though.
posted by lizifer at 2:22 PM on March 22, 2011

Response by poster: A convection oven, set to lowest possible temperature works very, very well.

I read that you have to crack the door open to use the convection oven, in which case the temperature control isn't great, without monitoring a thermometer. Also read that they use a lot more electricity than actual food dehydrators. Neither of these might be true though. I'll look into it if I don't get good recommendations or if everyone says that food dehydrators suck compared to convection ovens, but at first I would like to hear the food dehydrator recommendations, as I have no use for another oven. So, bring on the recommendations! If you know the model name/number, that would be helpful too. Thanks!
posted by at 2:25 PM on March 22, 2011

Double Plus Good on the Excalibur. I prefer not having a timer as a little longer is better than a little too short when dehydrating most things.
Mine stays on top of the fridge.

leathers, jerky and dried fruits and veggies turn out consistently across the shelves, unlike with those round ones.
posted by Seamus at 2:26 PM on March 22, 2011

We have the Excalibur. Solved the timer problem with a $10 mechanical time of day timer from the hardware store (doesn't let us leave it alone for longer than a day, though). I've used it for non-drying things, including melting chocolate prior to tempering it.
posted by straw at 3:18 PM on March 22, 2011

Nthing Excalibur. I chose them not only for the good reviews, but also because for me they are a local company (they're in Sacramento and I'm in the North Bay) that has been around for a while and has a great reputation. I'd rather pay more to support a product that is Made In The USA and has a good warranty (5/10 years). Same reason I got a Vitamix.

The Excalibur was a bit noisy when I first got it, but I figured out that this is because the wire mesh screen that protects the fan was just barely brushing against the fan blades. I used a screwdriver for leverage and bent the mesh ever so slightly away from the blades. No more clatter, just the whoosh of air.

Love it.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 3:24 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Excalibur is the go-to dehydrator in the raw food world (a bunch of people who know from dehydrators). I currently have a less-expensive round model (by American Harvest, I think) and look forward to being able to get an Excalibur to replace it with. Having the large square trays really makes a difference.
posted by Lexica at 8:53 PM on March 22, 2011

alton brown from good eats suggests a large fan an furnace filters
posted by jannw at 5:35 AM on March 23, 2011

I know the original poster actually wants to buy a food dehydrator, but now I'm
interested in the differences in performance between the two. has a nice feature
and price matrix which includes power consumption. I was surprised at how much
power the dehydrators consumed (except for the Excalibur 2400, which is 220
watts). All the others operate at between 440 and 600 watts.

The settable temperature range each dryer could achieve was fairly universally
between 85 and 155 degrees, and I'm assuming that the power consumption that
was indicated in the matrix was at the maximum temperature setting.

The counterindicators that the original poster identified as hearsay and possibly
false are possibly false. My convection oven doesn't seem to be more inefficient than
a food dehydrator, and the temperature control is good with the door closed.

My oven was pretty steady at 150 degrees at its lowest setting, plus
or minus 5 degrees during the operation of the oven. The average power consumption
was 100 watts continuous for the fan, plus the 1.2 kilowatt heating element for a 25
percent duty cycle, yielding an average power consumption of 400 watts.

For brevity, I'll leave out the cursory examination of the utility of the purchase :-)
posted by the Real Dan at 10:35 AM on March 23, 2011

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