Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.
In this post, I promised to go over pros and cons of the two food dehydrators I own: a Nesco™ and an Excalibur™. Both dehydrators are great and I'll start with the stackable Nesco™.
Nesco™ Dehydrator Pros and Cons
• Can add as many trays as necessary
• Affordable accessories
• No timer
• No on/off switch
When you're first starting out, you may wish to opt for the model with the fewest trays for the cost factor. Due to the Nesco™s stackability, please be aware that you must not run the Nesco™ with any less than 4 trays. Why? Four trays ensure enough height for proper warm-air circulation. If you find you love dehydrating (and why wouldn't you?!) you can purchase more trays online and expand your Nesco™ dehydrator's capacity. (If you only have enough food for two trays, simply insert another tray above and below one of the trays to make up the four tray total.)
The great part about being able to stack as many trays as you need is just that! This way, you won't be running your dehydrator with empty trays as could be the case with a fixed-amount-tray unit — you'll be drying just the amount you want to dry.
On my Nesco™ dehydrator the temperature dial is right on the lid, making it very convenient to use. To start it, you simply plug it in. This is one of my peeves. If you're at all like me and don't like the idea of plugging something in and out of the wall socket to turn it on and off, then plug the dehydrator into a outlet strip first, and use the on/off switch on that.
The Excalibur™ Dehydrator Pros and Cons
• Take out alternate trays for taller foods
• Affordable accessories
• Use as a bread proofer
• A little more expensive
• Spend more and get a proper on/off switch, and timer
The Excalibur™ model I purchased was the "starter 4-tray" dehydrator. To access the trays, you lift out a very lightweight front flap and then you simply slide the trays out. The temperature dial is on top of the machine, towards the rear.
Just like the Nesco™ model, this also only works by plugging it straight in and out of the wall socket — so use the outlet idea here too. If you opt for a pricier Excalibur™, you will more than likely find that they did include a proper on/off switch-along with a timer — now that's handy! After you've filled your dehydrator in the morning, the timer will turn the machine off later on — if you're at work or out shopping or digging in the garden!
Another great use for the Excalibur™ is as a bread-proofer! Yes, you can use it to raise your bread dough. How? Take out the top trays, leave the lower one in. At the very bottom of the dehydrator, partially fill a foil pan with clean water. Put in your bread dough on top of the lower tray in its baking pan, cover the bread with a cloth to keep the dough from drying out. Follow your bread recipe after proofing. A 4-tray dehydrator is fine for proofing hot dog buns, but for a loaf of bread? A 9-tray unit is better suited as you'll get the required height to proof a full loaf.
A pro for Excalibur™ dehydrators is the ability to take out alternate trays. This is a great feature for foods that would otherwise get squashed between the trays such as broccoli and cauliflower florets which tend to be a bit on the "tall side."
For either machine that doesn't have a built-in timer, consider purchasing a timer that is used for turning lamps on and off. If you know you're not going to be home on time to turn it off, the handy timer will do it for you.
In my next post I'll go over some of the accessories available to both the Nesco™ and Excalibur™ electric dehydrators such as mesh screens that keep your dehydrator trays clean(er), and a tip or two on affordable accessory substitutions that you may already have on hand.
To read all of Susan's posts, please visit this page on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
Since December of 2010, Susan Gast has operated Easy Food Dehydrating, a website dedicated to dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooked meats. Susan teaches you how to safely store your goodies too—for long-term food storage. Keep your food pantry full—whatever the reason or season!
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