Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.
Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day the Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator. There are a lot of options from Excalibur but I am going to confine my recommendations to just two models. Those are the…
So what is the difference between the two. Mainly that the heater, the thermostat and the fan are all a bit more beefed up in the 3900 and the 3900 comes with a 10 year warranty vs. the 2900s 5 year warranty. Given the two are only about 60 bucks apart in price, you might think I would just say “buy the better one” but it isn’t so simple with this decision.
Personally I do own a 3900 but something changed in it since I bought mine. The temp range of the 2900 is 95-155 degrees and the 3900 is now 105-165 degrees. My older model 3900 ran 95-165, I am not sure why they made this change. But here is my rule on dehydration, dehydrate as LOW as you can to get the job done.
So I now tend toward recommending the 2900 and saving the money but let me tell you the difference so you can make up your own mind. Basically in addition to the warranty being 5 years longer, the main differences are as follows…
The 3900 has a “better”…
- Heating element
Better in that they are higher rated and have a longer MTBF specification. What is MTBF you ask? Well, that is “mean time between failures”, meaning if you run them non stop the ones with higher MTBFs will last longer on average over time. Here is the deal though, how often does the average person use a dehydrator?
Some people use them every week or multiple times a week, if this is you, I would recommend the 3900. Most people, such as myself use them say 10-15 times a year, if that is you, I recommend pocketing the 60 bucks, getting the lower cost model and having the ability to dehydrate at 95 degrees.
What about the fact that the 3900 can go up to 165 degrees you say? This point is irrelevant in my opinion, as there is NEVER any reason EVER to dehydrate anything at 165 degrees, EVER and yes that includes jerky. Dehydration is dehydration, not cooking! I recommend making jerky at about 130-140 degrees.
Again dehydration is dehydration, not cooking.
So here is my logic on this with the lower cost item. First for the next 5 years, if anything does break Excalibur will replace it anyway. All these parts are easy to swap out, if you can work a screw driver you can do it. And if say in year six, your thermostat takes a dump, you can buy one for 30 bucks and replace it and still be 30 dollars ahead, IF it even fails. Again if you use your dehydrator 10-20 times a year, it likely won’t.
In the end though if you are someone who is going to say, run a small business making beef jerky from your home, well, I would go with the unit with the 10 year warranty. Personally though I do prefer to dehydrate vegetables at as low a temperature as possible. So if I didn’t own one already and was buying for the first time today, I would buy the lower cost item.
Regardless though of which you buy, let me say this, in dehydrators at the consumer level, there is Excalibur and there is everyone else! In my honest opinion frankly no one else even comes close!
I tend to be far away from being a “brand snob” I mean everyone knows I love Dewalt tools for instance but I will still recommend brands like Rigid and Porter Cable in some instances. However when it comes to Excalibur they are so much better than any competitor there is simply no good reason to buy anything else.
Lastly, I know some will ask about some of the higher priced Excaliburs, my answer is buy what you want but I would not go above the 3900B for any reason. Yea it is cute that for instance you can get a clear door, but I am not paying for that, it doesn’t do anything useful at all, if you want to see inside take the damn door off. Watching a tomato dry isn’t actually exciting enough to gaze at for more than 30 seconds.
As for the model with a timer, no way in hell I am shelling out more than 90 dollars over the 2900ECB for a timer when I can get a Century 12 Hour Mechanical Countdown Timer for fricken 12 bucks! A timer which can be used for other things by the way, then just my dehydrator.
A final word on dehydration for the homesteader. Dehydration is a great way to go over say canning for a lot of gardeners. Lets look at say tomatoes for instance. How do you dehydrate a tomato? Slice it, put it on a tray, stick it in the dehydrator for 6-12 hours and you are done. Now many home gardeners end up with say a dozen or so extra tomatoes a week or every 2-3 weeks, are you going to can 12 tomatoes? Does that make any sense?
As to longevity, I have not canned a jalapeno in over 6 years, why you ask. Well because 6 years ago we had pepper harvest like this one, several of them. Dorothy and I spent the better part of a week slicing and drying jalapenos, and we still have several jars of them left! They seem just as good as the day I put them in the jar.
So if you are in the market for a dehydrator, I recommend choosing between these two based on your needs and either way you will not be let down…
Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop on Amazon you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.
P.S. – Many vegetables like peppers and tomatoes can simply be sliced and put into your dehydrator, others require blanching which is a short duration steaming them or boiling them. If you are new to dehydrating I recommend Tammy Gangloff’s YouTube channel called Dehydrate2Store. She stopped posting videos about 3 years ago but it is still the best how to dehydrate resource on the internet in my view, akin to a free ecourse in it. Tammy also appeared on TSP all the way back in 2010 on Episode 367, so you may want to give that a listen.
P.S.S. – Want a great use for your dehydrated veggies, take some like say tomato, sweet pepper, a bit of hot pepper and spinach, toss them in your trusty Coffee/Spice grinder, make up some Yogurt Cheese with this powder mixed in, it is amazing and a tip I picked up from my buddy David last year. And hey for a final note you can actually use your dehydrator to make yogurt!