When it comes to buying a dehydrator, Excalibur dehydrators are always going to be mentioned. Today we are going to be looking at their most popular Dehydrator- the Excalibur 3900B. This is a decent sized dehydrator, and is fairly moderately priced. But how well does it actually perform? Keep reading to find out more.
The Excalibur company was founded in 1973, and they have been making food dehydrators for over 40 years now. All their products are made in Sacramento California, so this is one of the few American made dehydrators currently available. 40 years of products refinements have left us with the Excalibur 3900B, which is their most popular product to date. Lets have a look at the design of the unit first.
The entire model is a sleek black in color, which looks fairly modern and elegant. The model itself is rather large, and it measures 12.5″ H x 17″ W x 19″ D. All this space doesn’t not go to waste however, as it provides you with a very generous 15 square feet of drying space. This 15 feet of space is accomplished by using 9 removable trays, which also allows you to remove trays for certain taller foods. The machine itself is fairly simple to operate. There is no on and off switch, but the unit does power on and off as soon as the thermostat is switched to the desired temperature. There is also no timer included, but this can easily be rectified with the purchase of a $10 mechanical timer which you can plug the machine into. Excalibur also sell the virtually identical Excalibur 3926TB which does come with a timer, but it does cost around $75 more.
On top of the unit is the adjustable thermostat, which ranges between 95 and 155F. This temperature range is wide enough to do anything from dried fruit all the way up to different kinds of jerky. This model makes use of Excaliburs “Hyperwave Fluctuation” technology. What this technology supposedly does is make small fluctuations from the temperature set on the thermostat. Apparently this prevents yeast or mold from growing on the food, as the slightly inconsistent temperatures make a difficult breeding ground. Next to the thermostat is a handy quick guide chart, telling you you which food should be dried at which temperatures.
The heating element and fan are located at the rear of the unit, which means that all the trays receive the same temperature. This is a better designed system than the traditional tower fans, as it shouldn’t suffer from any of the issues that those kinds do. A 600 watt motor powers the unit, which gives more than enough power to dry whatever you have in mind. The 9 trays are made out of hardened plastic, and feel quite firm to the touch. The trays are covered in a fine mesh, which makes it easier to dry out certain smaller items such as herbs, as you don’t need to worry about them falling through the holes. Unfortunately you won’t find any solid fruit roll sheets included, but you can get a 9 pack of Paraflexx fruit roll sheets for around $10 or so, which are made to fit in this particular model. Also in the box you will find the user manual, and a copy of the Preserve It Naturally book which is a very nice bonus. This more or less sums up how the unit looks, and what you actually receive with it. Now lets move onto the performance of the unit.
We like to test out a range of different foods, so we began by by doing a few racks of beef jerky. This is one of the more common dishes made with dehydrators, so this was the first and most obvious test. We used 3lbs of meat, spread over 5 racks. Having left the meat for 5 hours, we returned to find it was all done. The jerky was perfectly dehydrated, and was no bending at all. That amount of drying time left us with jerky that could be snapped, which is just the way we like it. Next up we decided to try some tomatoes, as that is another popular choice. At the same time we also wanted to test out some apple slices, as that is another favorite snack to make. Again we left the machine for a few hours, and came back to perfectly done tomatoes and apples. The apples were full of flavor, and the tomatoes were very juicy. So far we were quite impressed with the results we had seen. Continuing with our fruit tests, we decided to make some fruit leather. Prior to our testing we had purchased some Paraflexx sheets for this purpose, and we started off by making some apple fruit leather. Fast forward six hours, and we took our fruit out of the dehydrator. It was slightly sticky in spots (which is perfectly normal), but aside from that it was firm enough to eat. The fruit was easy enough to peel off the sheeting, and the flavor of the apple was fantastic. The texture was firm, and the dehydrator had done a great job of locking in the taste.
The Excalibur dehydrator had certainly done a good job of the various foods we had tried it with, and the drying times were quite impressive. The fan was not too noisy, although it probably would not be the best idea to have it in your living room!
Cleanup wasn’t too difficult, but the trays are a little on the large side which could make things awkward for those of you with smaller kitchen sinks. Some people will even rinse the trays off in the bathtub to get around this, but to be honest we would rather have more drying space than smaller trays which are easier to clean. A good bit of advice is to use one of the fruit roll trays on the bottom rack if you are dealing with messy foods – this will serve to catch all the drippings, which will prevent any sticky food getting stuck to the bottom of the dehydrator.
So would we recommend this dehydrator? Despite on or two shortcomings, we would definitely say this is one of the best dehydrators you can get. The retail price of around $300 may seem a little pricey, but you are getting loads of drying space and there is no need to mess around with swapping trays in and out. The drying times were also quicker than we had seen on cheaper units, so we would definitely say the Excalibur dehydrator is worth it for this alone. The retail price of the model with a timer is around $50 more, so that may be worth looking into if you think you will be using that feature very often. Both machines come with a very respectable 10 year warranty.
- Looks quite good
- Loads of drying space
- Even drying temperature (no need to swap trays around)
- Fast drying times
- Free Preserve It Naturally book
- Made in America
- 10 year warranty
- No timer
- No fruit leather trays (cost around $10 extra)
Summary: A very spacious and good looking dryer, which dries evenly and very fast. It passed all our tests with flying colors, and is definitely a good buy. At the time of writing this model was on sale on Amazon, and you can click here to see if it is still on sale at that discounted price.