Food dehydrators are a kitchen item I have used daily for roughly a decade. I began exploring the world of food dehydrating using the Excalibur 3900 dehydrator. My friends and family love the delicious foods that come from the dehydrator so much that many have purchased their own food dehydrators or now hire me to create foods for them.
As a busy, health-conscious mom of six, I’m as practical as they come. I want high performance, durability, and ascetics, all at the lowest possible price. The products I use have to be hassle-free and stand up to the rigorous demands of a large family.
Most people overlook the food dehydrator as an essential kitchen item. However, these machines can help save money and play a vital role in supporting your family’s health. Today we will explore the perks and pitfalls of three dehydration machines perfect for daily use: the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900, Sedona SD-9000 and the Omega DH9090TW.
Our Top Food Dehydrator Pick
The Sedona SD-9000 is my top pick and led the group in all areas except usable drying space and price. Though still fairly expensive, energy efficient settings are likely to save users money in the long run. Thus the initial cost seems reasonable compared to less efficient models. It has a large drying cabinet, despite having less space than the Omega DH9090TW or Excalibur Dehydrator 3900. However, its rectangular shape, coupled with its smaller drying area may cause frustration during some projects. Glass doors allow users to visually monitor food during drying. A stylish design should make potential owners feel happy about making this dehydrator a permanent fixture in the kitchen.
The Omega DH9090TW has one of the largest drying areas and a respectable 26-hour timer. The relatively square shape of this machine also lends itself nicely to portioning. Dehydrated bread makers will not be frustrated when trying to score the bread mixture into even slices before drying. With the Sedona SD-9000, this is one of the most expensive models. The digital temperature control feature means users can easily ensure that temperature-sensitive nutrients remain intact during the drying process.
A large drying area combined with a low price make the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 an excellent offering for cost-conscious buyers. Its interior space accommodates most drying projects and makes portioning square foods easy. While this model lacks many convenient features, it undoubtedly gets the job done.
Real Life Food Dehydrating
I use my dehydrator for everything from making jerky, fruit rolls, cookies and “burgers,” to using it as a space heater when our home’s heater died this winter. We’ve even taken the trays out and used it to dry wet mittens so the kids could soak up the maximum amount of outdoor winter fun on snow days!
Why These Models
My gardening friends like to borrow as many dehydrators as they can at harvest time. They want to preserve fruits, vegetables, and herbs as quickly as possible to prevent spoilage. My Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 is often one of the first requested. Its overall drying area and large trays make for efficient dehydrating. This gives me an excellent chance to compare a relatively wide range of food dehydrator models first hand.
The smaller, round dehydrators often borrowed for the task are sharply limited by their drying dimensions. This makes them useful for only a handful of applications. Stackable tray dehydrators with vertical airflow require frequent tray rotation to ensure even drying. This adds extra steps and hassle. I have chosen to focus on more practical models like the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900, Sedona SD-9000, and Omega DH9090TW. Each model has an interior drying space that can accommodate a wide range of needs. Their horizontal airflow means that the extra step of tray rotation is not required.
Why Purchase A Food Dehydrator
A dehydrator can support most dietary goals. You’ll love knowing you have healthy foods and snacks available at all times. While it is possible to dry food outdoors using the sun, this may introduce bugs. Most ovens do not have low enough temperature settings to dry at ideal temperatures. Oven drying also means that it is not useable when family meals need to be cooked. Both methods are extremely impractical for most modern families.
Do you have a sportsman in your home or enjoy gardening or crafts? Drying herbs, meats, fruits, and vegetables are well-known food dehydrator uses. Did you know you can dry flowers for potpourris or dried arrangements as well? Non-gardening craft lovers can easily dry homemade decorative papers or other projects. Models with largest drying areas, such as the Omega DH9090TW and Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 expand the possibilities for use even further.
Nutritional Benefits of Drying Food
Drying food has many nutritional benefits. It inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast on food products and slows down the action of enzymes that cause decay. Enzymes aid the body with many biological processes including digestion, energy, and waste removal. They are an essential part of a healthy diet. Though enzymes react differently to drying, it is best to preserve as many as possible. To do this, it is best to avoid drying foods above 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
With the temperature dial on the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900, users may have to guess a bit. The closest labeled spot on the dial is 115 degrees. The Omega DH9090TW and Sedona SD-9000 have digital temperature settings, ensuring accurate and consistent temperature settings. Luckily, other nutrients like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and minerals survive the dehydration process with very little loss. The same nutrients are simply packed into a smaller volume of food. Cinnamon dusted apple chips are a tasty and healthy snack from the dehydrator.
Money Saving Food Storage
Like many people, if I find a good sale on a perishable item at the grocery store, I buy extra and store the remaining items for a future date. I used to think I was saving money by storing perishables in the freezer. Once I started dehydrating food for storage, I wondered how much each drying session cost me. I wondered how the cost of freezing would compare.
I used the average U.S. electricity cost estimated for 2018 and an online energy use calculator which helps calculate how much running appliances and other electrical devices may cost to find the answer. There is no listing for a food dehydrator on this calculator, so I entered in data for six light bulbs at 100 Watts each for a total of 600 Watts. Since the Sedona SD-9000, Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 and Omega DH9090TW all operate at 600 Watts; this gives us an accurate approximation of cost. On average, I tend to dehydrate items for about 18 hours at a time. With that entered, I found it cost me a one-time electricity fee of approximately $1.43 to dry most foods for storage.
Running my 16 cubic foot freezer for food storage yields a recurring charge of $29.12 per month. It’s easy to see how the inexpensive, one-time cost of food dehydration saves users significant money over time. Combine this small change with the ones found in Mark Faris’s 5 Small Changes to Help You Reduce Your Monthly Spend to save even more money on monthly bills!
It’s worth noting here that the Sedona SD-9000 may allow for even more significant savings since the unit can be divided in half to cut down on energy consumption when only a few trays are in use. It also has a quiet night mode during which it consumes even less energy.
Why Tray Size Matters
A nine tray model is essential for producing enough food to make the time and effort of dehydrating worthwhile. With one tuber, I can fill three of the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900‘s trays with sweet potato slices. This ultimately yields about three cups of sweet potato chips. Conversely, I can fill a gallon size freezer bag when all the trays are full. This is a much better amount for anyone that wants chips available for snacks or meals.
Before making a purchasing decision, check the clearance between trays and the usable drying area. If you plan on drying only very flat items like jerkies or fruit rolls, the 3/4″ rack spacing of the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 should be plenty. The square dimension of the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 and Omega DH9090TW allows for easy portioning of these items too. Once people start using their food dehydrators, they are eager to begin exploring just how many new food options are now available to them. It is best to plan ahead!
Useable Area and Exterior Dimensions
A food dehydrator will take up quite a lot of counter space. Measure both the countertop dimensions and the clearance between the counter and the bottom of your cupboards before purchasing. This will ensure that the unit will fit. Allow an inch of clearance on either side to vent moist air from the machine.
The Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 has a roughly square dimension of 17″ x 19″ x 12.5″. This is perfect for making evenly sized bread and fruit rolls. The useable drying area is large, measuring 15 square feet in total. While the 3/4″ tray clearance is not the largest of the three models, the trays slide out for easy removal. This means items taller than 3/4″ like Portabella Mushroom “Meatloafs” are easily accommodated.
The Omega DH9090TW nine-tray food dehydrator also offers 15 square feet of drying area. This is 2.4 square feet more than the Sedona SD-9000. The exterior dimensions are more substantial at 19.5″ x 16.5″ x 12.2″. The extra height could pose issues with cabinet clearance in some homes. I couldn’t find any direct mention of how much clearance there is between trays. If we assume the trays are spaced evenly, we can infer the Omega DH909TW has a tray clearance of around 1.5″.
The Sedona SD-9000 food dehydrator has an overall dimension of 14.6″ x 17″ x 19.7″. It is smaller than the Omega DH9090TW but taller than the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900. The tray measurements of this model are the smallest of our sampling. Each tray offers only 14″ x 11.5″ of space for a total usable area of 12.6 square feet. Tray clearance for the Sedona SD-9000 nine-tray dehydrator is 1″ to support a broader range of food thicknesses.
All three models of dehydrator reviewed have a horizontal airflow. Horizontal airflow ensures even drying on all racks and helps keep the flavors of drying foods distinct. Horizontal side vents and loose-fitting front doors allow moist air from dehydrating food to escape the drying compartment.
Fan size impacts drying time. The Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 and Omega DH9090TW have robust 7″ fans. The Sedona SD-9000‘s unique dividable drying compartment uses two 4.5″ fans instead. The Sedona SD-9000‘s fans can be used independently, giving it slightly more drying power.
Workmanship and Price
Online reviews of the Sedona SD-9000 seem consistently positive. However, there have been issues with the product dying suddenly after a short period. Affected users caution buyers to register the product within ten days. Like anything, it may be wise to keep the receipt and box in case a problem develops. Only with receipt and box can a unit can be replaced under warranty.
The Omega DH9090TW is a little more expensive than the Sedona SD-9000 when it comes to price. While it lacks an energy-saving mode and has only a 26-hour timer, the extra 2.4 feet of drying space may be worth it. Owners of this machine are typically happy with it. The few poor reviews I found were simply due to packaging or mailing errors.
The Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 is the least expensive of our models. Previous buyers give this item excellent reviews. However, they recommend new buyers test the product immediately to ensure fan and heating elements are working correctly.
Q. Where can I find recipes for dehydrated foods?
A. Depending on where you buy it from, some sellers offer the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 with both a Dehydration Guide and Preserve it Naturally included. Texts like The Ultimate Healthy Dehydrator Cookbook or The Jerky Bible, are also excellent resources.
Q. How do I clean my food dehydrator?
A. All three models are hand wash only. Exteriors and interiors can be wiped down using a damp cloth. Wash trays, reusable sheets, and screens in warm, soapy water.
Q. I’ve heard dehydrators are noisy. Is this true?
A. The fans on drying machines do make noise. In most cases, this isn’t any louder than a dishwasher. Some devices like the Sedona SD-9000 have night time settings which reduce fan noise during resting hours.