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Article: Choosing a Dehydrator: Make your own dried fruit, tomatoes, beef jerky, and more: Excalibur is my choice

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Forum: Article: Choosing a Dehydrator: Make your own dried fruit, tomatoes, beef jerky, and moreReplies: 16, Views: 108
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gloria125
Greensboro, AL

March 26, 2009
12:37 PM

Post #6321595

Ive had an Excalibur for some 20 years now. Ive noticed the company has even offered coops to DG members over the last few years.

Here in Alabama the peaches ripen during the rainy season. Years ago we built a dehydrator according to instructions in a government publication. Rarely did we get a batch of peaches
dried without the fruit going moldy. So I was very impressed when I finally got the Excalibur - you can actually put about a bushel in one load and over night it is dry and ready to store.

Year after year Ive used it for drying soup mixes, tomatoes, mushrooms.

I live alone now but still its handy to process a large amount of food and get it put away for the year. You can always add a tray of celery to take up any additional space - or make a tray of fruit leather.

beclu727

beclu727
Dacula, GA
(Zone 7b)

March 26, 2009
12:42 PM

Post #6321612

Great article Critter. I got an Excalibur last year for my birthday. We used it to dry figs, tomatoes, peppers and lots more. DH used it to make jerky (yum!). He even dried some star fruit we got from the in-laws in FL. Its a very versatile machine.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 26, 2009
12:43 PM

Post #6321615

I'm very enthused about my Excalibur too, and I'm encouraged that so many people seem to have had theirs in use for decades... I think mine was a great investment! Hopefully I'll have lots of garden goodies to dry this year. :-)

Thanks for your response!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 26, 2009
12:45 PM

Post #6321624

Ah, Beclu, you slipped in while I was replying to Gloria! I sure wish I had figs... my little tree is struggling, and I can't imagine the luxury of having enough to dry!

How do you use your dried peppers? I'm hoping for a good crop this year... :-)

beclu727

beclu727
Dacula, GA
(Zone 7b)

March 26, 2009
12:52 PM

Post #6321647

Hi Jill, We have an 8 year old fig tree that produced over 10 lbs of dried figs. I didn't weigh them before drying, so it must have been a lot. We also ate a lot. So be patient with your tree, it will grow and produce.

I only dried hot peppers, since I didn't have enough sweet to dry. My son rehydrates and uses to make curry paste. I grind them up to make "fresh" pepper powder to use for cooking. I still have bags of them! With the sweet ones, I want to dry some this year and try rehydrating to use in sauces.

Becky
gloria125
Greensboro, AL

March 26, 2009
2:20 PM

Post #6322063

I found some dried red peppers at the store - I think they are ordinary bell peppers. They are just wonderful for snipping into the winter soup pot. So I will be hoping to dry some of those this year. I also dry japones - the small red peppers that you are served at the pizza parlour! I put them on almost everything except my oatmeal.

A dehydrator is just great for preserving food that otherwise would be gone in a few days. It concentrates flavors and nutrients. A handful of dried mushrooms added to barley soup along with some dried herbs makes a very flavorfull winter soup - lots of nutrition - and it cooks up in one pot.
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

March 26, 2009
3:29 PM

Post #6322401

Jill, Would it be possible to run the dehydrator outside, assuming the humidity wasn't too high nor rain anticipated? I ask because I'm a nut about adding heat to the house in summer and then paying big bucks to air condition it out. Pam
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 26, 2009
4:09 PM

Post #6322564

Pam, I've run my circular American Harvest dehydrator out in the garage with good results (good idea when drying habanero peppers not to do it inside, as the fumes from those extra-hotties aren't insignificant)... I opted against the back deck, both because it seemed a bit more humid out there and because I didn't want to worry about it in a sudden summer rainstorm.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 26, 2009
4:10 PM

Post #6322567

Pam, I've run my circular American Harvest dehydrator out in the garage with good results (good idea when drying habanero peppers not to do it inside, as the fumes from those extra-hotties aren't insignificant)... I opted against the back deck, both because it seemed a bit more humid out there and because I didn't want to worry about it in a sudden summer rainstorm.

I think dried peppers might also be a great addition to steamed rice. Soup sounds good, too! You know I like stew. :-)
klstuart
Simpsonville, SC
(Zone 7b)

March 26, 2009
9:04 PM

Post #6323686

Thanks all for reminding me, I've got some beef in the fridge just waiting to become jerky!

I have a Nesco 'professional' that I bought about a year ago. It has temperature control. I've been quite happy with it for everything from herbs to jerky. The round shape is a little inconvenient, but otherwise a great machine.

I've got some Paprika peppers started for this year. Can't wait to try to make my own Paprika this summer!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 26, 2009
9:07 PM

Post #6323703

The temperature control does seem to be key... I saw an ad the other day for an American Harvest dehydrator, and it looks like their new model might have a thermostat.
klstuart
Simpsonville, SC
(Zone 7b)

March 26, 2009
9:10 PM

Post #6323722

Oh, Critter, what do you use dried Habaneros in? I had an over-abundance of them last year, and made some hot oil, and froze some. Didn't even think of drying them!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 26, 2009
9:14 PM

Post #6323741

ROFL... I think I dried a lifetime supply, as a single dried hab will heat up a whole pot of chilli! I added some to a batch of hot sauce, but if we have them we prefer "fresh" for that purpose (seeded, minced, and stored in the fridge with added vinegar).
wvgardendeva
Berkeley Springs, WV
(Zone 6a)

March 30, 2009
3:26 PM

Post #6340226

Last summer I dried sweet corn, green beans, sweet peppers, zucchini and swiss chard. They all are wonderful in soup. I have not tried them as stand-along vegetables. I thought the zucchini would be good as "chips" in the dry state, but I don't like it. This year I will try drying seasoned zucchini slices and see how that tastes.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 30, 2009
3:46 PM

Post #6340325

Hmm, maybe dipped in lemon juice or vinegar and sprinkled with dill... ?

Thanks for your suggestions!
caseylynn
Seattle, WA

June 22, 2009
6:10 PM

Post #6723655

I saw last year that discounts were available to DG if you bought an Excalibur. Does anyone know if this is still true? I'd love to get one.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

June 22, 2009
7:14 PM

Post #6723933

I don't know of a current offer like that. But you could always call the company and ask! Last year, they said they would give an additional discount if at least X number of people purchased units. But they seem to have regular specials on their site, also, and I think I got mine for a similar price as I would have with the discount. :-)

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