Friday, July 30, 2010


I've had some people ask me about my experiences with dehydrating. I really don't have a lot so I was hoping someone else who has more knowledge on the subject could jump in.

I have had my dehydrator for about a year. I had been thinking about buying one for awhile, but I didn't really know which one to get. I didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars on something that I may or may not end up using often.

I ended up buying this Nesco at Wal-Mart. The only reason I chose this particular model/brand: it's the only dehydrator I could find when I went looking. I'm such an immediate gratification kind of person. When I set my mind to getting something, I don't like to wait. So, no, I didn't read reviews on it or anything before I purchsed it. It cost around $30-40. I like it just fine, I guess, but I don't have anything to compare it to. The thing I like least about dehydrating: the noise. None of us here are fans of the roar. I have to turn it off when we're eating or just desiring a few minutes of peace and quiet.

So..I've showed you my chips

and my eggplant bacon.

I have also made Matthew Kenney's Blueberry Pancakes (from everyday raw). This is what it looked like before I took it off the sheet. I guess I used wax paper rather than parchment paper here, and that was not a wise choice. It was very difficult to get off the sheets. I think there is a difference in baking wax paper and regular wax paper. I have no idea which one I used, and did we just eat wax?

So my pancakes weren't as pretty once I peeled them off. We did like these. I don't think that I would make them again. I thought they tasted more like a cookie, and they were really too sweet for my liking (I didn't even use near the amount of sweetener that it called for.) I recommend this recipe only for people who are SERIOUS about choosing raw over cooked. I prefer cooked pancakes and choosing raw in other areas.
The next thing I want to make out of his book is "tofu" out of cashews and coconut meat, among other things.

I experimented for all of you who do not have a dehydrator. (The ingredients to these pancakes are primarily water, pine nuts, bananas, and pecans.) I poured two circles on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at my lowest setting (170) for part of the day. They also turned out. (They had slightly more of a "cooked" feel since that was the lowest temperature my oven allows.)

I only actually ended up with one pancake out of the oven. I had to take the cookie sheet out of the oven for awhile (while it was still batter-y) to cook something else. My 5 year old comes walking into the room, holding a bowl of something and a spoon. "Yum, this pudding is really good!"

I've put kale (lightly oiled and salted) in the dehydrator several times. I still haven't made cheezey sauce kale chips I always see around, but I really want to!

I probably prefer my fruits fresh and juicy. I might also prefer my kids to eat them that way, as well. However, they LOVE dehydrated fruit. The main reason I like to make dehydrated fruit occasionally: it's less messy and a quick snack for on-the-go. (Otherwise, I probably wouldn't even bother with it.) I would much rather them eat dehydrated fruit in the car or in their bedrooms, etc.

Speaking of dehydrators...look what mine has seemingly done to my counter. I have this amazingly long, beautiful countertop in my 2 1/2 year old house. I did wonder about the heat of the machine discoloring the counter; however, I kept checking on it, and that didn't seem to be a concern. I had no idea it would melt the glue. I hope I'll be able to fix this gap and make it good as new. I'll have to start dehydrating in our homeschool room. :0

Please give me any advice or thoughts you have
about dehydrating and dehydrators!

Which dehydrator do you recommend? Is the Exalibur 3900 the absolute best? Do you use it more if you can leave it on the counter all of the time? Do you think the Exalibur would create the same kind of problem for my countertop? Are all dehydrators loud, or is it just mine? What about the teflex sheets - I assume they are safe since everyone seems to use them - are these made just for the slide out square (rectangle?) trays? Do these make a big difference/improvement over just using parchment paper?
What are your favorite foods/recipes for the dehydrator? Should I even dehydrate fruit or just let my kids eat it fresh everytime?

Thanks for any advice or thoughts you have!


  1. I do have a Excalibur 3900 dehydrator that I leave out all the time. It is still noisy but not terrible. It has an adjustable thermometer and does not produce excessive heat on the bottom so I don't think it would hurt your countertop. I ordered the teflex sheets when I got my dehydrator so I never tried parchment. The sheets have not shown any sign of peeling so I don't think there is any concern about the coating getting into food. Teflon off gases at a high temperature from what I have read.

    I am still experimenting with my dehydrator. I find that I make a lot of raw pizza crust/bread. I also like to dehydrate roma tomatoes and plan to make some dried peaches this coming week. In the winter I like to use it make "warm" raw food of various kinds.

    I hope that helped,

  2. Wow, pancakes in the dehydrator...very interesting.

    I don't have a dehydrator, so sorry I don't have anything special to contribute, but I remember your eggplant bacon...and I'm still meaning to try it...albeit in my oven on the lowest setting...we'll see if it works.

  3. I can share in some frustration with you about your dehydrator. I've had mine for about a year, I got it when I was going through a "raw kick", but the only thing that turned out good with it was when I would soak and then dehydrate nuts (I don't seem to have the time for that anymore!). I tried making "chips" and "tortilla shells", with no luck ) : I'm like you too, I like my fruit nice and juicy, not dry and chewy. Wish I had more dehydrator advice, but mine is just kind of collecting dust right now- ( :

  4. Hey, thanks for posting on this. Like you, I just bought a cheap-ish one, the *only* one I could find in town. I didn't want to spend >$100 on something I wasn't sure I'd use a lot--of course, then you question whether you'd use the more expensive version more because it works better, etc etc. It does seem like the cheapy round ones never come with the sheets, and you have to use parchment paper. I am going to try kale chips, and maybe corn chips this weekend.

    Sorry about your countertop! That sucks.

  5. I totally feel ya! It's the same with me getting a food processor. I could easily just get a small, inexpensive $15 food processor that would chop and mince here and there just fine, but for large batches, hard-to-mix items, and everyday use, a bigger and stronger machine would be more cost-effective. And so I've decided to wait it out to buy a good food processor because it's something I know that I'll be using a lot, and I don't want to buy something not worth my while.

    I don't own a dehydrator. It's something that I would *like* to have, but not need at the moment. It's a matter of investment, whether you're willing to invest a lot of money for a state-of-the-art dehydrator or just settle for one that "does the job" but not in the most efficient way.

    If I were you, I'd keep the dehydrator you have right now since you seem to only be using it every now and then. Upgrade to an Excalibur if you find yourself using it more and more frequently. A good investment like this will save you the constant hassle of loud noises and parchment paper! :]

  6. Wow, your dried food looks delish! I don't have a dehydrator, but I did borrow my cousins several years ago. That was back in my meat eating days and we used it to make deer jerky ...I can say BLEH to that now! I don't remember much about it though...sorry! I would like to buy one in the future though!
    I am so sorry about your countertop! I hope you can fix it! BTW, I love reading your blog! :o)

  7. Wow, all of that stuff looks awesome. I've been meaning to make kale chips for so long---I think I might do that tonight! I don't have a dehydrator, though. I am, however, a big fan of crunchy food, so maybe I should get one.

  8. Kale chips and eggplant bacon are the two things really pushing me to wanting to buy a dehydrator! My husband is convinced I don't need one though :(

  9. Nice!

    I always make kale chips in my oven, but I would love to use a dehyrdator instead - they probably taste so much better. I've never had eggplant bacon, but mmm, that sound delish!

  10. nice ...
    all stuff is looks very nice..

  11. I have an American Harvest and I love it. It wasn't too expensive and I gradually added trays until I reached the limit of 12. In the past I've used it to preserve our bumper harvest of tomatoes which I store in ziplock bags in the refrigerator and use all winter in cooking. I also dehydrate apples. The weirdest thing I made was dehydrated chili to take camping. It was good but I kept worrying it would make us sick. It didn't.

  12. THANK YOU, everyone, for the comments and advice. That really helps!

    Diana, if I were you, I'd prefer the food processor, too. I didn't have one until about a year and a half ago (it wasn't really an expensive one either, though), and I don't know how I cooked without one.

    I love Ali's and Andrea's suggestion of dehydrating surplus tomatoes.