If jerky, dried fruit, and dried vegetables aren’t dietary staples for you personally, they must be. Enduring edibles are equally convenient on camping trips, within an office, or on your own couch in your underwear. For twenty years, the Ronco Food Dehydrator has been my own jerky go-to. It could have a killer dehydrator to dethrone it. The Excalibur did that.

What Is It?
It’s a high-end, high-capacity electric food dehydrator.

Who’s It For?
Home jerky enthusiasts. Individuals who dream of an improved fruit roll. Individuals who think paying nine bucks for half pound of dried mango is highway robbery.

Design
It’s a huge rectangular box (12.5 inches tall x 17 inches wide x 19 inches deep), manufactured from stainless and plastic panels. Leading door comes off completely, revealing slots for nine trays (or five trays in the lower-end unit). In the rear of the unit may be the heating aspect and powerful seven-inch fan to circulate the heat.

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The square trays are come standard as a difficult plastic grid with a flexible plastic mesh laid at the top, or you can level-up for stainless trays for $100 more. Along with the machine you have controls to adapt the temperature between 95 and 155 degrees F, and a timer that may rise to 26 hours and automatically shuts the machine down when time expires.

Using It
If you are making jerky, simply marinate your meat using whatever recipe you prefer (there are thousands), then lay the strips in one layer onto among the trays. Once your trays are loaded, pop the lid back on, set it to the correct temperature (155 degrees F for meat), and set the timer for about how long the recipe demands. Check the meat once in a while to ensure it is not over-drying (Tip: allow it cool off first. Warm meat will be softer and more pliable, giving the impression that it requires more time, when it could not.)

Dried fruit is even easier. Slice it up, wear it the tray, set it to 135 degrees and leave (the bigger the water content, the longer it’ll take). If you like fruit leather or fruit rolls to slices, puree fruit and spread it thinly onto some parchment paper. The dehydrator can be used to make yogurt, drying herbs (utilize the lowest temp to keep flavors intact). If you are done, put your dried goods in ziplock bags or tupperware to save lots of them.

The Best Part
Frankly, it’s hard to choose just one single, but we’re choosing the powerful fan. It can a fantastic job of circulating the heated air through the entire interior of the dehydrator. Subsequently, each of the trays dry evenly, at the same speed. This implies you don’t need to shuffle them around through the entire drying process. It creates everything very easy.

Tragic Flaw
That would need to be the purchase price. To arrive at $400 for the stainless version with the plastic trays, the Excalibur is 10 times as expensive as the correctly capable $40 Ronco Food Dehydrator. It’s $500 if you wish the stainless trays. It is also big and heavy. Yes, making your own jerky and dried fruit saves money, nevertheless, you have to be realistic about how precisely much you’re really likely to use it. Just how many batches does it take for it to cover itself?

This Is Weird…
The Excalibur’s promotional materials promises quiet operation. Whoops! It appears like a badly aging air conditioning equipment. Quiet, it isn’t, specially when you put it next to the Ronco Food Dehydrator, which is in fact silent.

Test Notes
We made a decision to test the highest-end model, which includes the stainless body. Don’t bother. Inside, it is the same polycarbonate as the lower-end plastic version. Put simply, the stainless body is merely for looks. It adds no functionality, nonetheless it does add a large amount of weight. The stainless version with stainless trays will come in at 40 pounds. You can aquire the same capacity and functionality in plastic for $200 less, and it weighs just 22 pounds.
For testing we made several types of beef and chicken jerky, dried apples, papaya, kiwi, and blueberries, and made five several types of fruit leather. Everything was delicious.

We tested both plastic and the stainless trays. The stainless trays are actually, a little bit better to clean. Not really a lot, but just a little. The fact that every plastic tray is actually in two pieces (a stiff plastic grid with a flexible plastic mesh at the top) is slightly more unwieldy. However, the plastic trays have one major advantage: handling. The stainless trays get scorching in the dehydrator (up to 155 degrees), therefore you probably want gloves if you are pulling a tray out to check on it. On the other hand, you can bare-hand the plastic trays, no issue, and they’re a whole lot lighter. Advantage: Plastic.
The capacity of the thing is fantastic. With nine 15-inch by 15-inch trays, it includes a total of 15.3 square feet of space for drying stuff. That can be done ten pounds of meat at the same time, no problem.
The time with programmed shut-off rocks !. You do not have to worry about forgetting it (or being out of our home) and over-drying your meal. Combined with even heating, you can just set it and leave. Super convenient.
Because it costs literally a tenth of the Excalibur, it isn’t the very best benchmark. But it’s worth noting that the Ronco Dehydrator has lasted me a lot more than twenty years and it still works fine. That is mostly because there are no moving parts, so there’s very little that can break. You may worry about the fan on the Excalibur, however the unit includes a 10-year warranty, that ought to be enough time to really get your money’s worth.

MUST I Buy It?
The $300, all-plastic, nine-tray version with the timer and variable heat is a good buy, provided you’ll actually utilize it. The stainless doesn’t add enough value to justify the excess $200 and 18 pounds.