As Autumn is upon us and it's time to start piling on the layers and getting cosy, I'd like to start experimenting a bit more with different ways of food prep. Eating raw is great for the Summer months, but I feel especially in the Autumn/ Winter, heartier meals are better for warming up my Pitta/ Vata Ayurvedic constitution. As it would be nice to throw in some raw elements every now and again, I've been looking into investing in a... *drumroll*... DEHYDRATOR!!! Think of the possibilities... dried fruit (without all the sulphite preservatives), making your own fruit roll-ups/ fruit leathers, making your own flax seed crackers... And maybe even making raw chocolate if I dared venture that way.
If you've been following my updates on Instagram and Facebook, you'd be familiar with my ongoing dehydrator dramas right now. I was loathe to spend the cash on the almighty Excalibur... Figured that I'd dip my toes into the weird and wonderful world of dehydration first by buying something cheaper, and if dehydrating turned out to "be my thing", maybe I could consider dropping close to €400 (GULP) on a good one. Yup, for my American readers - you guys are lucky. The Excalibur's pretty expensive by American standards, but here in Europe, they're charging DOUBLE THE PRICE for one. It's daylight robbery, I tell you!!
After much research, I decided on the German make, Rommelsbacher. It had pretty decent reviews all around, seemed small enough to fit on the counter top, and had everything I was looking for in a dehydrator: auto shut-off timer function, 3 different wattage settings, ability to add a couple more shelves if I wanted to. Oh, and all well under €100. SCORE!!
On top of that, it's German engineering. What could possibly go wrong?
Famous last words. The first and most important safety function I was looking for, the auto shut-off function, turned out to be faulty.
Let me preface this by saying: maybe I got a lemon and that particular one I received was the 1 in 1,000 where the self-timer didn't auto shut-off. I mean - all the satisfied customers on Amazon couldn't have been wrong. And believe you me, I tried it a few times and tested it after discovering the fault coz I really, really wanted to like this product... But... Alas, it should've gone "ding" and shut off like a toaster should've. But it didn't.
So I've since returned it. Kwa kwa kwa.
The first test batch of mangoes and apples I dried turned out beautifully - but it was a Sunday afternoon and I had my eagle-eye watching out for every tray all day, so the dryness and texture of both fruit were perfect.
I didn't even realize the timer fault coz I'd shut the machine off when all the fruit were done, ahead of when the 12 hours I'd initially put the timer on for. It was only when I was dehydrating another batch of mangoes overnight, to be ready for 5.30am, only to find out at 7.30am that the timer hadn't gone off and my mangoes had dried to an absolute crisp (mango chips, anyone?) that I realized the auto shut-off didn't work.
Amazon were amazing, though - they immediately sent out a replacement unit before I'd even returned them the faulty machine... But I decided to cancel the order and get a full refund on it.
From having had a little test-drive of this baby, here's why I've decided against this particular one:
Having to lift each tray off to check on how the fruit on every tray is progressing gets very fiddly and cumbersome, especially when the motor on this particular model is on the top. It's heavy!! My counter is a relatively decent size, but I still found having to lift the cover/motor off, place it down, and then lift each tray off and find more space to put that down somewhere else while you pick out the fruit that's already done... Well, it becomes really fiddly (First World problems, I know).
Now I totally get why the ones with the pull-out drawers are so handy. Duh. Pull them out and check on your fruit+veggies. Less fussing!! So I've been looking into spending a little bit more money on a dehydrator, since the little test-drive I had seemed like this dehydrating thing could be kinda fun.
I was seriously considering the Excalibur, but then I took the dimensions of the 5-tray one and that thing really takes up a serious amount of space!! 48cm deep and 43cm wide... So I didn't even bother looking at dimensions of the 9-tray one (the one EVERYONE says you should get or you'll regret it).
And then someone else recommended the Sedona - Wow, this thing is like a next-level Excalibur. I've been watching YouTube reviews like there's no tomorrow of these 2 comparisons. Why the heck did they build the Excalibur with an opaque door that isn't on a hinge?! Doh! Sedona totally nailed this one. When I build my next kitchen, I'm definitely putting in a Sedona next to the regular oven. Haha. This thing is even bigger than the Excalibur. So... For now, this will be my pipe dream until I get a way bigger kitchen. Scratch that. Pffffft.
OK. What does that leave me with now? No dehydrator as of yet. I'm very close to putting my money on the Stockli with metal trays though... This one has the motor at the bottom. So even though you'd still have to fiddle with the trays to check on stuff, at least there's no bulky/ heavy motor to lift along with it. It's almost like a steamer. It's also 34cm in diameter which takes up way less space on the counter. Plus, you can get an add-on silicon tray for gloopy stuff like drying fruit leathers. It's double the price of the Rommelsbacher, but half the price of the Excalibur or Sedona. Going midway at the mid-range point seems like a good idea...
Stockli Dehydrator with metal trays:
I'm all ears if anyone has any other dehydrator recommendations... Or if you think I've missed out on any other considerations when getting one of these gadgets. I'm driving myself (and my friends) up the wall with my current dehydrator obsession right now, so I'd be glad for any other opinions.
Oh. And of course I'll keep you posted on which one I finally end up with. Hehe.