What's the reasonably best food dehydrator?
June 16, 2017 7:32 AM   Subscribe

We want a food dehydrator, but it's hard to figure out what's good. Six years ago, the Ask Metafilter favorite brand was Excalibur, and I'm curious whether something better (or better for the price) has come along.

Our primary use will be for drying peppers, and we're not interested in workarounds like using the convection oven because hot pepper fumes are pretty harsh and the kitchen venting is pretty poor. The dehydrator can and probably will be run in the garage or under cover on the back porch when we're drying our mystery peppers (which at best guess either scorpion or 6-pot joloka).
posted by ardgedee to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak to alternatives, but our Excalibur 3526 has been a workhorse for the last 4 years.
posted by zamboni at 7:39 AM on June 16

I have this exact Excalibur model (don't recall where I bought it or what I paid for it tho) and it's still just like out of the box. Works so well, is easy to clean. We bought Teflex sheets for every tray as well, so things that are really gloppy at first don't drip through the mesh tray inserts. It is large, and when we aren't using it we store it inside a large garden trash bag and put it in our garage.

Your peppers sound painful, and delicious. We live near the beach and make fish jerky weekly for ourselves and also for any neighborhood and family pets who love it (which is ALL the pets). Plus fruit roll-ups, and peanut butter bars. And crunchy kale! It's amazing for that.

You can definitely run yours outdoors or in the garage with some air flow....no critters will come anywhere near those peppers ;)
posted by the webmistress at 8:01 AM on June 16

Probably overkill for your purposes if you're just using it for chili peppers, but the very best food dehydrator for people with regular access to loads of produce is the Dry It
posted by aniola at 8:25 AM on June 16

I looked into this a few years ago, and I wasn't as impressed with the off-the-shelf models compared to their price. I'm sure they're great, but many of the features can be DIYed rather easily, if you're willing to spend a day collecting and assembling materials. Fairly good breakdown here. But there's dozens of different plans out there that all sit in the same orbit as that one. If you can stomach cruising prepper websites, there's a ton of cheap builds for dehydrators floating around out there too.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:57 AM on June 16

I bought an Excaliber probably 5 years ago, and use it about 4-6 times per year. I'm very happy with it. When I need more room in it, I can leave out a tray or two. For yogurt, you could remove all the trays, and use the door that now comes with them. (I have a 6-tray one similar to this, but mine didn't come with a door.)

It's a simple piece of machinery. It works well, and does exactly what I want it to do. I recommend it. It is large, but fortunately fits perfectly on a shelf I have in our dining room.
posted by hydra77 at 3:06 PM on June 16

You can borrow mine if you want. I have a Nesco like this one.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:54 PM on June 16

Seconding the Nesco Snackmaster like the one Stewriffic linked. I got one a year or so ago and it's super great. Easy to use and we make all kinds of yummy stuff with it.
posted by FireFountain at 10:47 AM on June 17

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