Mercantile August/September 2018

By Staff
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MOTHER’s product picks for August/September 2018.

August/September  2018
Compiled by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors

Multifunctional Dehydrator

$319.95 at

One of the great joys of the growing season is harvesting your garden’s bounty. So when you have tomatoes up to your ears, more rosemary than you know what to do with, and a fruit tree bending under the weight of its crop, having a dehydrator that can handle that bounty is a real boon. And when it comes to dehydrators, the Excalibur 9-tray unit is the cream of the crop.

The boxy 9-tray models are tried-and-true, and they’re made in the United States. Editor Russell Mullin can attest to their time-tested design: “I inherited a 15-year-old unit that’s still going strong.” And while the design hasn’t changed much over the years (when it works, it works), some available upgrades have made the new units even more convenient to use. “My new 9-tray unit has some great upgrades compared with my older model; a timer and a clear front cover that lets me check on the progress of whatever I’m dehydrating without opening the unit are the most notable,” Russell adds.

But what really sets the Excalibur apart from other dehydrators is its multifunctionality. Not only does it dehydrate fruits, veggies, and herbs beautifully, but the removable trays and box-like design allow you to proof bread and make yogurt inside the unit. “I make a lot of drinkable, 24-hour yogurt — usually 2 gallons per week,” Russell says. “I went from spending over an hour making 1 gallon of yogurt (with multiple dirty dishes and constant temperature monitoring) to spending less than 15 minutes making 2 or more gallons with no dirty dishes. I simply put the yogurt culture in a jug of pasteurized milk that I let come to room temperature. (I prefer the glass jugs, but the 1-gallon plastic jugs seem to work just as well.) Then, I shake it up, place the milk — still in its jug or bottle — into the dehydrator at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The next day, I have gallons of delicious yogurt at a fraction of the cost.”

The square trays are a user-friendly shape, especially when compared with the donut-shaped footprint of many stackable units, and the BPA-free mesh screens are fine enough for herbs, release well, and are easy to clean. And with 15 square feet of drying area packed into a 17-by-19-inch footprint, you can dehydrate a lot in a small amount of space. Russell adds, “Another feature I really like is that there’s no need to rotate trays. I set the timer, walk away, and come back when the time is up. This helps free up my time to work on other projects, like harvesting from the garden.”

Canning Jar Fermentation Kit

$54.95 at


With four Pickle Pipes, four Pickle Pebbles, a Pickle Packer, and a free downloadable guide, the Masontops Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit converts canning jars into fermentation vessels perfect for anyone wanting to delve into the world of fermenting their own foods.

The Pickle Pipe is a simple silicone airlock you can secure with a standard canning jar band. Editor Hannah Kincaid says, “I love that the Pickle Pipes release the fermentation gases so I don’t have to burp my jars every day.”

Pair the Pickle Pipes with the glass Pickle Pebbles, which will ensure your veggies stay below the surface of the brine, and the Pickle Packer, which will aid you in packing vegetables into jars, and you’ll be ready to get started.

Hannah says, “I was really happy with the kit, and I would definitely recommend it to my friends and other fermentation hobbyists.”

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