I’ve been using this 9-tray dehydrator once or twice a week for the last three years to make dried fruit, veggies, jerky, dog treats, and dried bread crumbs. Other uses include re-crisping crackers, cookies, and chips, and thoroughly drying wet photographs and flowers.
Overall, this is truly the most flexible dehydrator I’ve found. The thermostat is adjustable (85-145F), so you can customize your dehydrating. The removable trays allow you to experiment with sizes, quantities and varieties of foods sorted by temperature range. If you group shorter-term items by tray, you just remove those trays first, then keep the remaining items/trays inside a bit longer.
Other units heat unevenly from the bottom, require you to manually rotate trays, and — in the case of cheaper units — don’t let you control the temperature. Along with a thermostat, the Excalibur has a fan that distributes heat more evenly; it also features a timer, so it will automatically turn off at a desired time whether you’re around or not.
All of the dehydrators I’ve used generate noise (I now use my Ronco and Home Essentials models exclusively for making dog treats). Since the Excalibur isn’t quiet, I keep it in our craft room. It’s very easy to clean. I enjoy not throwing out spoiled food. We always have healthy snack alternatives for us and our grandkids — and they enjoy contributing to the process as much as they eating the rewards. Ever since we moved to a property with grapevines, they’ve helped us make copious amounts of raisins.
1) To make fruit yogurt leathers or work with items high in moisture content, you’ll need ParaFlexx non-stick drying sheets. Excalibur provides a pretty good guide on how to work with different foods.
2) If you buy direct from the manufacturer, it may be slightly more expensive, but I understand they’ll guarantee the unit for 10 years; otherwise, you can purchase a 10-year extended warranty.
– Chris Lewis
I have experience with both the Excalibur and the more recently-reviewed Nesco, a smaller and less expensive dehydrator. The Excalibur is a superior product if you are a heavy user and tend to be drying large batches of produce at once. It has quite a bit more capacity due to the design (no center hole and square racks make a big difference). The horizontal airflow system does dry large batches more uniformly. Although you can add racks to the Nesco, it dries less efficiently, and once you add in the cost of extra racks you are approaching the same price as the Excalibur.
Having said that, the price on the Nesco has really dropped and the top-down heater/blower is a nice upgrade over the older bottom-fan models. Heck, you could almost get three of them for the same price as an Excalibur, although that would take up a lot of storage space and use more energy to power 3 units.