Tag Archives: dehydrated food az

Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator – Item of the Day

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
  • Fan
  • Thermostat

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!

Mushroom House Dried Oyster Mushrooms – Item of the Day

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 is Mushroom House Dried Oyster Mushrooms.  In my view oyster mushrooms are one of the more underrated mushrooms out there.  To me they are also one of the mushrooms that I feel actually benefits and becomes better when dehydrated.

Fresh oyster mushrooms are pretty good but they lack intense flavor, the also lack any real “body” instead they are very soft and easily over cooked.  However when we dry them and re-hydrate them they come up a lot more firm and their taste intensifies.

The other big thing is of course how storable these guys are.  How well do they store you ask?  Well the package I recently bought had a best by date over 2 and a half years beyond the date I received them and we all know that manufactures practice more than just a little CYA on expiration dates.

So what is the best way to use these guys.  First soak them in water until they re-hydrate and that takes about 20-30 minutes.  Save that water for cooking or making stock.  Then slice and prepare them in what ever way you see fit.  I like sauting them in butter and garlic, then toss in some sweet and hot peppers, saute a bit longer, then add some greens like baby arugula and baby spinach just to wilt, then add in two duck eggs and gently scramble.  Top with your cheese of choice, Gruyere is really nice with this and you have a gormet breakfast in a matter of 15 minutes.  Yes you can use chicken or other eggs for this, I just happen to have a lot of duck eggs always around.

There are tons of recipes I could give you for these but I thought I might give you a recipe using 100% long term storables that would really blow you away, and make it very fast too.  Here is what you need.

Procedure –  Put water in large cooking pot and add mushrooms, turn on to medium heat and heat until steaming hot.  By then mushrooms should be soft enough to work with.  Use a strainer and remove mushrooms, this is simple because they float.

Now add dehydrated veggies and a big pinch of each of rosemary and thyme, add about two big pinches of parsley.  Bring to a full boil, while you wait for that, run some cool water on the mushrooms so you don’t burn your fingers, shake them dry and cut them on a cutting board into thin strips, sort of like “mushroom noodles” (moodles?).  Then add them back to the pot.  When it comes to a boil add bouillon or Better Than Bouillon stir to dissolve.  Also now add the can of crushed tomatoes.  (Costco has some awesome organic ones).

Simmer until the mushrooms and vegetables are to your liking, stir in canned beef including the broth (don’t use a variety with “gravy”) bring back to a full simmer to heat beef through.

Serve with a topping of fresh chives or green onion, if you don’t have any on hand use dehydrated chives.  Add salt and pepper to taste, best to do that at the end as the canned beef and bouillon both have a significant amount of salt.

This all takes less time to do that it does to type it all out.  The soup comes out amazing and it is a great use for canned beef, allowing you to keep it for long term storage but still rotate it by eating what  you store and storing what you eat.  You can adjust quantities to your liking and it absolutely can be made with fresh meat, bone stocks, etc.  One really nice over the top addition is some green snow peas right at the end!

Just a few ways you can use this awesome ingredient and remember they are dehydrated so they weight about 1/4 of their weight when fresh, hence a one pound bag that sells for just under 17 bucks is equivalent to about 4 pounds of raw oyster mushrooms.

I have tried many different brands of oyster mushrooms but so far, Mushroom House Dried Oyster Mushrooms are my favorite, so check them out to day and add this great and versatile storable to your pantry.

To store them after opening I just put them in ball jars with a big pinch of rice in the bottom to act as a desiccant, there is no need for dry canning/vac sealing them.

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. – You will notice that the dehydrated veggies all are linked to one gallon sizes on Amazon, the brand is Harmony House.  I have always loved their quality and when I buy this stuff I buy it in bulk but you can use any dried carrots, celery and onion in this recipe.  I recently did a bulk order on stuff like this with North Bay Trading Company and was impressed with their quality, service and pricing so you might try them as well.