UPDATE: If you want to buy an Excalibur in Hong Kong, you can from buy one from ME! It comes at a 10% discount off the list price, and will be delivered to your door in most places in Hong Kong.
My dehydrator of 6+ years died a few months ago. Within 2 days we ordered a new one of the exact same model. Then finally replaced it with an Excalibur - the work horse of dehydrators!
Dehydrators come in two shapes - rectangle and round. I prefer the rectangle shaped dehydrators over the round ones, they heat more evenly and are easy to taste as you go since you have access to each tray. A rectangle dehydrator has a heating element and a fan at the back to blow a constant low heat over the trays.
I use it quite simply - to dehydrate sliced fruit for snacks, kale chips, fruit roll ups, soaked tamari almonds, raw crackers, SCOBY jerky, raw sprouted wraps/bread, raw probiotic nut cheese and more.
When drying fruits, the nutrients and sugar content stay the same, but since the water is not there they are smaller so the 'sugar per bite' is higher.
Dried fruit is: a healthy snack in limited quantities, ingredients in meals, a way to preserve in season fruit and can be packaged in glass jars as pretty and tasty gifts.
One of the major benefits of making dried fruit at home is keeping it all natural, most dried fruits in the supermarket have added sugar or sulfur. There is no need to add anything to make it taste different or look 'prettier'.
Fruits and Veggies to Dry
- Pineapple - it tastes amazing half way through being dried
- Mango – everyone’s favorite
- Apples - we like to slice thin, and dry them until they are crisp, adding cinnamon is an option
- Little tomatoes - cut in half, add nothing, leave the seeds in and dry them skin side down
- Bananas - cut into coins or dry the small bananas whole
- Kiwi - peel and slice into circles
- Purple dragon fruit - slice thin, they never get crispy, but are great chewy
- Star fruit - they almost shrink to nothing, but are very pretty
- Jack fruit - superbly unique taste, take the stone out first
- Kale Chips - wash, rip out the stem, and dry at 105 degrees for about 12-15 hours
- Fruit roll ups - fruit and homemade yogurt and a bit of cardamon or cinnamon - yummy
- Soaked and Dehydrated Nuts - soak 12 hours, dehydrate at 115 degrees 24-72 hours
- SCOBY Jerky - marinate and dry at 105 degrees
- Timing suggestions for dehydrators are just suggestions because everyone's humidity and starting base is different.
- Anything from 12-72 hours depending upon the fruit, the thickness, your preferred taste, etc... just put them in and taste every 6-8 hours
- Glass jars work great, and look pretty.
Most of all, have fun with it!!
What and where to buy?
Sedona and Excalibur are by far the top of the market. While they are expensive, they do come with warranties. Sedona has an electric control panel and a 1 year warranty in HK. The Excalibur has a 3 year warranty in HK, and is much simpler with two knobs (temperature and time). I prefer the Excalibur as the controls are simple (no digital control panel to go wrong) and it is a total workhorse, mine is often on for 5 days non-stop!
UPDATE: I am now selling the Excalibur dehydrators at 10% off the retail price - contact me for details!
If you live in Hong Kong or China, we bought our 'no name brand' from Taobao, and it arrived less than 24 hours after we ordered it!
If you need extra mesh liners or non stick mats, you can get them on Shanghai Street in HK or from Amazon in the USA.
From Taobao, http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=22840772053
Learn about Taobao, http://taobaofieldguide.com/how-to-buy-from-taobao/how-to-buy-from-taobao
Taobao shopping service, http://snappyshopperasia.weebly.com/