Having read several raw food books and blogs (more than perhaps is healthy or I should admit!) it seems that there is consensus that the Excalibur Food Dehydrator is the market leader, with many suggesting that going for anything less is a waste of money.

Now at £159.00 for the 4 tray starter model going up to £300 for a 9 tray model with a timer (prices taken from www.ukjuicers.com) this is quite an investment, especially if you aren’t sure whether the perceived need for one is a passing fad or actually the holy grail of food production for many years to come.

So…

I am going to make a case and stand up for the little guy. Doing a search on Amazon.co.uk for ‘dehydrators’ a range of models come up starting at £35. Many of them have 20+ reviews of 4+ stars.

At Christmas when I was giving Santa Claus a hint about what I might like under the tree this Digital Food Dryer & Dehydrator – with Digital temperature control and timer seemed the best in terms of value and good reviews.

On opening a reassuringly large box on Christmas day, this is what was inside:

dehydrator

Made up of a heating element at the bottom with a dial from 30 – 90c (essentially all the temperatures your oven doesn’t do):

dehydrator-heater

Topped with 5 stackable plastic trays with a lattice design which allows the warm air to circulate:dehydrator-tray 

The first thing that I made were ‘sun dried’ tomatoes as these are a great staple to brighten up many a salad and pasta dish.

tomatos-ready-for-dehydrator

sundried-tomatos-in-the-dehydrator

After this I was completely won over, and have been giving jars of sun dried cherry tomatoes as presents ever since.

For crackers and more ‘wet’ batters that would fall through the holes I have cut disks out of greaseproof paper to fit inside each tray and have found that I can keep reusing these, making them a very cheap option.

The main downsides include:

  1. Limitation on shape – you can’t make one big round for a pizza base
  2. The air doesn’t circulate evenly so items on the lower trays dry quicker than those at the top. It therefore helps to shuffle the trays up every few hours.

This aside, my dehydrator has been well used over the last 7 months and has produced many goodies including raw carrot cake, onion bread, tacos, dried mango, dried apple and strawberry crisps, and warmed veggies for a thai curry. If you aren’t ready to make the plunge for the top of the range model, my recommendation is to still consider going for a cheaper model if you are serious about expanding your raw food repertoire. Any tips and suggestions very welcome…

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