Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Excalibur Dehydrator Review: Head to Head vs. Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator

June 18th, 2010 · 62 Comments · What to Buy

Excalibur vs. Nesco American Harvest dehydrator review I think people are starting to expect this sort of thing from me.

When I realized I still had my friend’s Nesco American Harvest dehydrator in my possession once I started using the Excalibur, the only natural next step possible was to conduct a side-by-side test, a competition of sorts to see which could dehydrate faster.

The Excalibur has a solid reputation as the best in the industry, fastest, most efficient, etc.

I’m just going to cut to the chase and tell you…

…that I don’t agree.

(cringe…waiting for lighting bolts to strike…)

Excalibur dehydrator review I tested five kinds of fruits and two kinds of nuts, divided equally between the 9-tray super heavy duty Excalibur, retailing for $269.95 sold for $219, and the Nesco Snackmaster Express 4-Tray Food Dehydrator which retails for $67.99 and sells for $58.93 on Amazon. Now to be fair, when comparing price, the 4-tray Excalibur retails for $119 and sells for $105, and the 5-tray that you can win here retails for $179.90 and sells for $149.95 at Cook Ware’s Plus (which is less than Amazon and includes free shipping). To make the Nesco bigger, there are extra trays to buy for about $10 each, up to 12 trays.

Why is the Excalibur Dehydrator Supposed to be Better?

The Excalibur has a fan at the back of the unit that blows warm air forward, over the tops of all the trays at once. If there’s any uneven drying, it can be remedied by rotating all the trays 180 degrees halfway through the process, which is recommended in the instruction book.

Most other dehydrators, including the American Harvest, blow air upward from the bottom, which is said to be less effective and inconsistent at drying all the food evenly. (Important note: Donielle tells me that there are some very inexpensive dehydrators that have no fan at all. They take days to do the job of hours and are not worth the $20 savings you’ll get. Thanks, Donielle!)

I would (of course) be incredibly interested to see if the smaller dehydrator loses its edge if it’s stacked up to 12 trays, because then a good bit of food would be quite far from the fan.

Note: The dehydrator I used is a few years old, model number FD-50. The one sold on Amazon is FD-60, and the fan is from the top, not the bottom. I cannot find exactly what I used anymore, but the wattage is the same.

Which Dehydrator was Faster? See for Yourself…

I divided exactly the same amount of fruit between the two machines. One apple. One banana. A pound of cherries. A pound of strawberries. A bag of cranberries, prepared for dehydrating two different ways. When I tested nuts, I put a pound of walnuts and a half pound of pecans in each machine, soaked for crispy nuts. (Here are the various ways to prepare fruits for dehydrating, if you’re curious.)

dehydrator review test Here are the two machines ready to compete!

The Results
Everything below was run at 135F. Some fruits dried unevenly because they were different sizes.

Food Tested Excalibur 9-tray Nesco Amer. Harvest
Walnuts about 14 hours about 14 hours
Pecans about 10 hours about 10 hours
Strawberries 6 hours 6 hours
Apples 6 hours 6 hours
Bananas about 12 hours about 12 hours
Cranberries about 1/3 done after 20 hours, called it at 24 same
Cherries 5 cherries done in 12 hours, about 1/2 dried in 20 hours, all done in 24 hours after 20 hours, I wrote: “Maybe Excal has an edge, but it’s so slight.”

For the record, both machines were faster than the book expected for apples and strawberries, by quite a few hours!

I started everything at around 2:15 p.m. on a Saturday, and by 8:45 p.m., here are the fruits. The Excalibur has black trays and the Nesco is white. Most of the apples and all of the strawberries were packaged up right after these photos:

dried apples and bananas dried strawberries and cherries

IMG_9767 IMG_9766

Here are the cranberries at 3:02 p.m on Sunday, a full 24 hours in the dehydrator. You decide which look closer to dried (without being dried out, a distinction I go into further in the fruit drying post):

excalibur dehydrator dried cranberriesNesco dehydrator dried cranberries

As far as power and energy used, the Nesco is 500 watts and the Excalibur 9 tray rings in at 600 watts. Here’s a “best guess” scenario on how much a dehydrator costs to run over 12 hours of dehydrating:

Dehydrator Watts Energy cost/12 hours
Excal. 4-tray 220 $0.22
Excal. 5-tray 400 $0.41
Excal 9-tray 600 $0.61
Nesco Amer. Harvest
(full size)
1000 $1.02
Nesco SnackMaster 500 $0.51

I used my home’s energy costs from a year ago in this “How Much does an Appliance Cost to Run?” post. You can easily calculate your energy use, too. I’ll talk about the difference between oven and dehydrator costs next week when I update crispy nuts.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dehydrators

Efficiency aside, there are some other considerable differences between the Excalibur and most other dehydrators. Here’s my personal opinion on the Excalibur after having used a round model dehydrator:

I like:

  • Wide, flat shelves
  • No hole in the middle
  • Lots of space (8 sq. feet of drying area in the 5-tray)
  • Small holes in the screens so I can put small things on it without them falling through
  • Can pour with sheets
  • Quiet: no louder than a dehumidifier
  • One-handed access nice for moms with babes in arms
  • Can take trays out to incubate yogurt or allow bread to rise (although for myself, I’d rather use the cooler yogurt incubation method which takes zero energy than the electric dehydrator. I tried it once, and the results weren’t any better than I’m used to.)

size of tray nesco vs. excalibur dehydrator

Here is the Excalibur on top vs. the Nesco on the bottom. Square trays with no hole in the middle definitely give more drying space, and it’s easier to spread out your food while preparing.

I don’t like:

  • No sides on shelves – too easy to knock nuts off when spreading
  • The top shelf is almost too narrow vertically for a single layer of almonds
  • Shelves seems flimsy; you really have to be careful when you carry themexcalibur dehydrator review
  • SO BIG (check out the footprint comparison to the right)
  • Heavy, especially with all the food in it. Tough to carry downstairs!
  • Potentially having to wash two layers, the netting and the black plastic shelf

The Excalibur does fix the one major problem I always had with the Nesco dehydrator. It takes so long to package up the finished product sometimes, and with the Excalibur you can pick up the plastic screen and pour the nuts, for example, into your container. Imagine how long it would take Kimarie to store her sprouted grains with a round model!

Excalibur dehydrator review Here are the base trays for each. The holes on the Nesco (left) are much larger, so you need to purchase additional screens to dry small things like grains. On the other hand, there are two pieces to wash every time on the Excalibur, and you know how I feel about dishes…

What Dehydrator to Buy?

Ultimately, if you’re in the market for a dehydrator, you just want to consider your needs and purchase accordingly. If you’re going to dehydrate crispy nuts every so often and preserve some summer harvest, but not tons and tons, I think a smaller version will do the trick for you.

However, if you like the idea of drying 15 square feet (over 10 pounds of nuts) at a time or dehydrate a lot of sprouted whole grains, or if you’ll use your dehydrator all the time, I do think the Excalibur has an edge. If you want to incubate yogurt or rise bread, I believe the Excalibur is the only model with removable trays that can handle those jobs.

UPDATE 1/2012: After more than a year living with the Excalibur, I’ve fallen in love. I DO think it’s worth its value, even if it might not actually work faster than another dehydrator. Who cares? It can do more at once and speeds up my life in many other ways. See my updated Excalibur dehydrator review from 2012.

(My next experiment? I’m testing about 10 natural sunscreens and sharing a massive comparison review mid-July 2010.)

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I received a dehydrator from Cook Ware’s Plus for review as well as one to give away, but — clearly — that in no way impacted my honest review! See my full disclosure statement here.

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62 Comments so far ↓

  • Lenetta @ Nettacow

    Awesome, Katie, thanks for doing this! I should pull together a post on how my Cabela’s square dehydrator differs from these – I know I really would have liked something like that when I was comparing! And for the record, so far I love my choice. I’ll try and bang that out later today (have to work this AM) and come back here with a link… I hope you don’t mind. :>)
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..7 Quick Takes – Cooking Edition =-.

    Lenetta @ Nettacow Reply:

    Here it is, and I should note that it is currently on sale in-store at Cabela’s for $99.99!
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..7 Quick Takes – Cooking Edition =-.

    Lenetta @ Nettacow Reply:

    Oops, I just read the ad, the sale is THIS Saturday (June 26) from 8AM to noon only.
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..7 Quick Takes – Cooking Edition =-.

    Lenetta @ Nettacow Reply:

    Linked on my weekly roundup, too.
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Daybook for June 25, 2010 =-.

  • Erin

    I’m wondering about the Nesco square dehydrator for those of us that just are starting dehydrating. Best of both worlds? Or is there still a hole in the middle….?

    Mike Berger Reply:

    Our round Nesco/American Harvest dehydrators do have a round hole up the center of the unit which is part of our unique Converga-Flow airflow pattern inside the dehydrator – this insures not having to rotate trays to get even dehydrating. However to increase the amount you can dehydrate at one time you just add trays. One advantage Nesco has is that you only use what you need – if you’re only dehydrating a few things you use less trays. The Excalibur is fixed in the size and number of trays – no adjustments to the size of the job like with our Nesco.

  • Johnlyn

    I’m looking into buying a dehydrator so I’m excited to see what others have to say too.

    Thanks for the detailed post – you just made my life a LOT easier!
    .-= Johnlyn´s last blog ..Sausage Update =-.

  • elizabeth

    I wonder how your results would have differed if you had actually filled the trays instead of just scattering a few items?

    I have an ancient dehydrator that resembles the excalibur. But honestly I don’t waste the electricity to use it unless I am drying a LOT of things. If nothing else, I buy & slice a bunch of bananas to fill up the space. We’ve never had any problems with filling up the tray so that the contents are all touching – they shrink apart as they dry anyway. I usually put a full pound of thinly sliced apples per square tray, for example.

    Consequently, if the fan was at the bottom blowing upward, only the bottom tray would get dry. I’m guessing that the fan at the back makes a huge difference if you’re really utilizing the dehydrator to its maximum potential.

    Although I dislike the huge footprint of my dehydrator, too!

    Katie Reply:

    Elizabeth,
    I had just done 9 lbs of nuts in the Excal, so I didn’t want to do too many more, but I have loaded – and I mean loaded, – the Nesco with nuts and strawberries before, and I’ve been pleased with the results. I’ll tell you about the nuts MOnday or Tues next week!
    :) Katie

  • elizabeth

    I am interested, btw, to read your post on preparing fruit for drying!

    I have dried apples, bananas, peaches, and strawberries in our dehydrator, but I don’t do anything special to them. Just slice and arrange. When I first began I followed the directions to soak in this or that, but the time it added to the process made it impractical, so I quit the soaking. I wonder whether the various preparation methods make a difference in the longevity of the final product?

    I would just LOVE to make homemade craisens, though. :)

  • michelle in colorado

    One I reason I like the Excalibur more than the Nesco is that I kept burning out the motor on the Nesco. They would last maybe 2 years and having one fail when I had 10 lbs of tomatoes to dry was the final straw. The Excalibur comes with a very nice warranty. And I can fit much more on a try and the one I have has a timer so I do not be there to turn the unit off.

    julie Reply:

    I had the same problem with my Nesco dehydrator. I had used it fewer than 12 times when the motor overheated (I think) because it just stopped and I discovered that the trays were warped, like they got too hot. This happened shortly after the one year warranty expired. My $160 investment for the Nesco American Harvest FD1010 Gardenmaster turned out to be pretty expensive for 12 uses. How long have you had your Excalibur?

    michelle in colorado Reply:

    Three years this summer. I use it a lot more than the Nesco. Right now it is drying strawberries, kiwi, rhubarb and the pulp from the strawberry rhubarb jelly I made. The pulp makes great leathers.

    Katie Reply:

    Michelle,
    That is an important fact! I saw that some Excals have a timer…that would have helped my fruit roll not “over-crunchify” AGAIN last night before 7 a.m.! :) Katie

    Curator Reply:

    Hope this helps, but you can actually get a timer from any hardware store that will work just as well, for a fraction of the cost… I got one for $20 for a friend, it plugs into the wall, and the dehydrator plugs into it, you set it for how many hours you want, this one could go up to 24 hours, then when the time is up it shuts off power to the dehydrator. :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Brilliant! I never thought of that! What a simple solution, thank you! :) Katie

    Curator Reply:

    you’re welcome, im glad I could help :)

    Julieo Reply:

    My Nesco died only 60 days after the warranty expired. Used fewer than 12 times. Bummer. The company did not work with me either, I asked :(

  • Suzanne

    I wish i could rent one to figure out if my family would eat the yummy looking dried fruits, I think we are in the same town, want to rent me yours (:
    .-= Suzanne´s last blog ..Our Story Part 6: Is one enough? =-.

  • keely aka LKP

    ok, besides a dehydrator that has been on my list since LAST Christmas, i’m kinda torn. with my food allergies, i’m having to re-learn how to cook & eat. so i’m leaning towards the Essenergy Vita Clay 8 Cup Rice & Slow Cooker on sale for $129.99…i’m allergic to wheat, rice, potatoes, soy, & corn to name a few…so i’m eating a lot more quinoa than EVER. that clay cooker would be PERFECT for my quinoa. so much more convenient than the traditional way of cooking it or my cheap old rice cooker that always burns it. =( the other item i’m swooning over is the Back to Basics Steam Canner for $39.95. with these allergies i know i’m gonna have to can my own stuff so i know i’m safe from additives & preservatives that are unnecessary and problematic for my health. this would be lovely! =)
    .-= keely aka LKP´s last blog ..We Interrupt Your Normally Scheduled Program… =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Keely,
    Make sure you copy these over to the giveaway post! You accidentally put them on the comparison post… good luck! :) Katie

  • keely aka LKP

    i THINK i’m a subscriber….at least i know you’ve been on my google reader for the past 6 months. does that count? if so i’ll post this twice. :)
    .-= keely aka LKP´s last blog ..We Interrupt Your Normally Scheduled Program… =-.

  • keely aka LKP

    i THINK i’m a subscriber….at least i know you’ve been on my google reader for the past 6 months. does that count? (2nd POSTING)
    ::fingers triple-crossed::

  • Tina

    I have a Nesco and LOVE IT!!! So easy and good for such a low price. You can do yogurt but you must buy the trays that the screen pops out so that you basically just use the ring to make height for your bowl of yogurt. It is very dependable and works great on fruit, nuts, and yogurt. I cannot recommend it enough – especially if your family is on a budget and you don’t want to spend a small fortune on a dehydrator.

  • Erika @ More Time With Our Kids

    This really is VERY helpful, especially for a novice like me who would LOVE to start drying foods (esp. from our garden!) but doesn’t quite know where to start …. although to be honest, I’m hoping I’ll just win the contest and not have to weigh my options at all! ;)
    .-= Erika @ More Time With Our Kids´s last blog ..Fun in the Pool! =-.

  • Kris

    Interesting review. I have had my Snackmaster since 1986. I’ve used it many, many hours and never had any problems. I love having the fine mesh to dry herbs and the plastic sheets to make fruit leather. My kids never knew you could buy fruit leather until they were in high school. :)

  • Amy

    I had a Nesco for many years. It finally died on me last summer. I bought an Excalibur then. It does take up a lot of room and seems louder. I felt that Nesco dried a lot faster but I realize that it was drying smaller amounts and it is always one temp. I like that I can change the temp. on the Excalibur.

    I love being able to just pull up on the Excalibur tray linings and pour/dump right into a container. I do not spill as much!

    I do not think there is much difference in washing the trays. But I could never get my Nesco bottom motor base cleaned. Food would drop down in the fan whole. I could hear things rattling inside the base. I also had grease seep out the bottom from past jerky making. I love that I can just wipe out the bottom of the Excalibur. It is a lot cleaner setup and that is very important to me.!

    I also like that once I start my Excalibur, I do not need to mess with it again. The Nesco, I was always restacking the trays for even drying.

  • keely aka LKP

    ok transferred all three. =) thanks for the heads up. apparently i was a little discombobulated yesterday. lol.
    .-= keely aka LKP´s last blog ..We Interrupt Your Normally Scheduled Program… =-.

  • Bekki

    I have two dehydrators. Both are from yard sales for about 6 dollars each and both are Nesco. I have never had a problem with them and they dried my things evenly. I mostly use them for jerky and dried tomaotes. I hope to do more with them this year with fruits and things. Thanks for your comparison, I have always wondered about the differences, expecialy since mine came to me “used”, (although one was still in its originall packaging). I see these all the time at yard sales so if one does not want to put out a lot of money this is a possibility.
    .-= Bekki´s last blog ..From the Garden and other things =-.

  • christina

    Katie, you are too funny! I love how you compare things on your blog. Keep up the good work. I know I can always count on you for an honest report.
    .-= christina´s last blog ..Chicken Coop Condo =-.

  • iris

    Allthough I allready own an Excalibur, I think your post is interesting!
    I only want to add some of my findings.
    I do not know how much noise a humidifier makes, but I think this Excalibur makes a lot of noise, such a lot that I have problems where to put it. In the kitchen I have no room (very tiny kitchen unfortunately…). First I had it upstairs, but this is too much noise for my daughter sleeping in the room next to it and that is my craft room and I’d rather do not have any food in there (I dye, spin, sew, knit and weave). So now it is downstairs and I only switch it on at night (when I think about it….)
    The other point I’d like to make is the door, because it is not attached, I always have to put the door somewhere when working with it, why not a door like an oven with hinges…?
    The adjusting knob I’d rather would have had it on the front, now I can’t put the dehydrator somewhere high.
    For what it costs I had suspected something more sturdy. I lack space in my house and like to use the top to put things on like nuts that are soaking for example, I am always afraid that those things are too heavy, the top and sides bent through easily.
    What do you think, do you recognize these points?
    .-= iris´s last blog ..Ik ga op vakantie en neem mee… =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Iris,
    As far as dehydrators go, I don’t think you’ll find one quieter. I guess I haven’t put heavy things on top, but I wouldn’t doubt your statement on that. I wonder about the very newest version, with the timer shut off – maybe it has the dial on the front. The other kinds of deh. all have lids that have to be put somewhere, too, although I admit I was surprised that the front cover came right off. At least you can still open it one-handed. Thank you for your comments! :) Katie

  • Kate

    I have the Excalibur 9-tray and I LOVE it. Wouldn’t trade it. I noticed in your energy comparison that your smaller one was more efficient than an Excalibur 9-tray, but LESS efficient than an Excalibur 5-tray, which is a fairer comparison.

    I use mine all the time for dehydrating grain, making yogurt, drying herbs, and occasionally for drying fruits or making jerky. But I use it at least once a week and usually 6 – 7 trays at a time. I couldn’t do with a smaller model in my kitchen. I put it where my microwave used to be and frankly, since I rarely do anything messy I don’t even need to wash the trays. So it works great for me!
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..SAD VS. Real Food =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Kate,
    Thank you for adding this perspective! I think the Excal is definitely the machine for the job if you’re going to use it as much as you do. You can’t beat those square trays for convenience. :) Katie

  • Christine

    Has anyone heard if the Nesco American Harvest contains BPA?

    Thank you.
    Christine

    Katie Reply:

    Christine,
    Nope! I called the company – so typical for me! – and they assured me that the tray are no. 5 plastic, which is BPA-free. :) Katie

  • Sara

    I have had the 5-tray Exclibur for over 6 years and I love, love, LOVE it! :) It has only been used for fruits and veggies but I look forward to soaking/dehydrating nuts, seeds, and grains.

    I just filled it last week with fruit for a little family road trip and was once again amazed at the amount of fruit I could fit into it: 1 bag of cherries, 1 whole pineapple (cored and sliced), 3 mangoes, 3 kiwi, 5 bananas, and 1 container of strawberries. It was so nice to have that variety of fruit on our trip without having to be careful with fresh fruit! I left it all in for about 18 hours- the strawberries and kiwi definitely could have come out sooner and the cherries and pineapple could have stayed a little longer but I tossed it all in the same bag and the moisture equalized between all the fruit and everything was perfectly yummy.

    Previously I owned a round dehydrator (not sure the brand) and have personally been much happier with the Excal! :)

  • Lindy

    One question I’ve had about the dehydrators is aren’t they plastic? I’m not sure I want to be heating food directly on plastic – doesn’t it leach? Also, doesn’t continually heating plastic cause fumes? I like the look of the small Excalibur, but I can’t find any info on this. I’d love to know what others think. I noticed the Radiant Life Catalog has a stainless steel version, but they are HUGE and pricey.

    Katie Reply:

    Lindy,
    I addressed the plastic question (although not in depth) in Friday’s post this week: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/06/25/a-crispy-nuts-update-last-chance-for-excalibur-week/
    Thanks! :) Katie

  • garden remodeling

    Thank you very much. I have dried peaches, apples and tomatoes just under our roof with a fan (and meat and fish – which I wouldn’t be happy doing in Australia, just salted and airdried but this I am sure would do that as well – have you ever done that?) Ah well. Thank you again. (Add to list of expensive things I will have to buy one day.)

    Katie Reply:

    Nope, haven’t done meat yet…but it’s on my list. :) Katie

  • Jen

    So, if you had to decide which one to buy (new), which would you get? -Now knowing what you know about it. I really appreciate and respect your research done on this and am trying to make a decision on which one of these to buy. However I would probably be getting the 5 tray Excal to stay within my budget. ( I am leaning toward the Excaliber but would appreciate your personal opinion) Thanks!!! :)

    Katie Reply:

    Jen,
    It’s such a tough question, and it’s all about how you’re going to use it. I thought the huge Excalibur, even a 5-tray, wouldn’t be worth it, but I’ve found myself glad for the space a few times just in the last two weeks. That said, if it’s still $100 different between the Nesco and the Excalibur…I’d probably go Nesco, because it was adequate and I’m cheap, and I have a small house and would rather have a smaller item to store. However, what I loved about the Excal, I still love: big trays, easier to load w/no hole in the middle, and more drying space. Hope you’re happy with your choice, whatever you do! :) Katie

  • Robin

    The round dehydrators are a real pain when it comes to making homemade beef jerky. My Excalibur is worth it just for that!

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  • Jessica Moore

    Hi Katie,
    Do you mind coming back to this old post for one more question? … or two :)

    I’m wondering which of the Excalibur dehydrators (5 tray or 9 tray) is big enough to pull the trays out of and make yogurt. I guess it depends on the size jars you use, but I just can’t tell how tall they are to figure out what I could make in each one.

    Ok and also: Do you think it’s worth the extra money to get the Deluxe version instead of the Economy version? Both 9 tray and 5 tray Excaliburs come in an Economy and Deluxe version.

    Um, and one more… If you sprout and dehydrate your grains, which mill are you then using to grind them? Just your regular grain mill? I haven’t been able to figure this out, so I haven’t yet purchased a grain mill.

    Thanks so much!
    Jessica

    Katie Reply:

    Jessica,
    Not a problem!

    I do incubate yogurt in mine, and I’m trying to think how many trays I remove… (it’s at a friend’s house or I’d count for you). I know I leave a few at the top going with granola at the same time…guessing you could do quart jars in the 5-tray, but I also would think any retailer selling Excals would give you the interior dimensions.

    I also wish I knew what the deluxe version is! If it has a timer and auto-shutoff, I’d go for it if the price isn’t too much different. That would be really quite nice for dehydrating fruits and fruit rolls.

    I used to say I didn’t get why I’d need all 9 trays…but I’ve since changed my mind! I fill the thing quite often, much more than I thought I would.

    I use my Nutrimill to grind sprouted grains, but it does go really, really slowly. I thought I was breaking my mill, but it was just the sprouted grains taking a long time.

    Good luck on your decisions!
    :) Katie

    Jessica Moore Reply:

    Thanks a bunch, Katie! At least now I know what I want… now to get up the nerve to splurge! :)

  • Michelle

    Is there really no way to take the base of the american harvest apart to clean? I have mine and it even seems like it’s getting rusty and I am a clean fanatic. I can’t see a way to even try to pry it apart or unscrew it just to clean…Anyone have any ideas about how to get it apart, or has anyone done it?? Thanks!!

    Katie Reply:

    Sorry Michelle, I only own the Excalibur…

  • Heather

    Thank you!!! (I came over from your Excalibur update post). We live in a 900 sq ft apartment, and I think my husband would faint if I tried to fit an excalibur in our already crowded kitchen! Seeing that an American Harvest works just as well made my day.

  • jayne

    I’ve had the Nesco for years and just used for the first time yesterday. It all seemed to go really well…UNTIL time to unload. Thinking I had overestimated the amount of sprouted wheat I would use…turned out to not be the case as I was dropping grains EVERYWHERE when removing the dehydrated grain. How does one empty the trays without losing half the product? I didnt know this was a problem….how do others solve this…..what fell on the table salvagable, the floor, not so much, not to mention the ones that fell under the unmovable hutch. Need ideas on how to prevent this. I did use double the mesh screens only because I saw the notches in the sides (for easy removal?) so did attempt to avoid that hole…..but even tried scooping grain from trays and found they ‘jump over’ the side walls….and yes, I have grain in the motor section that I can hear but not see. Help anyone?????

  • Kristina

    Thanks for this wonderful post; so many sites Excalibur products are written by people selling them – which makes one wonder how much is sales pitch and how much is consumer love. I really love my Nesco American Harvest; I had added trays, and only use however many I need. Although I am a gardener and preserve huge amounts of food in the spring, summer, and fall, I can’t think of an instance when I really needed more trays. The little Nesco is super-durable, too. And quiet!

  • Anna

    I noticed your follow up after a year of using the Excalibur. We fell in love with ours, too! I love being able to remove a shelf in order to dry bulky items like wands of fluffy sage. I love not having to rotate trays like we did on the old Nesco we were given. If we didn’t, we got scorchy things in some spots and underdone ones in others. I did not realize how much I love love love dehyrdated tomatoes until we got the Excalibur. A handful of those in some broth or a pilaf is heavenly in winter! The longer I have my Excalibur, the more I wonder how I ever lived without it.

  • Anna

    We also do A LOT of dehydrating to preserve our garden bounty, so our 9 tray really gets a work out. I am currently hoping to snag a used one for cheaper to speed things up.

  • Kathy

    I have an Excalibur that I can never get good results with. How crispy should your strawberries get? I have a friend with an American Harvest that gets everything crispy dry. She can then grind some of it into powder for cooking. I’ve watched videos demonstrating the Excalibur and theirs always comes out hard and plastic-like. Mine is always a little leathery or pliable no matter what temperature or length of time I use. I’ve called Excalibur and contacted others and no one seems to know why. Any suggestions before I get frustrated and give it a toss?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kathy,
    Hmmm…I’ve never gone for crispy strawberries, only pliable ones. I’ve gotten crispy apple chips but it takes about 36 hours, and they’re sliced as thinly as they can get. So my only possible suggestion is to slice thinner, or maybe just do blend into a puree and pour it out thinly. That usually gets to crispy for me. Hope you get it to work! :) Katie

    NA Reply:

    Kathy —

    Wow, that’s odd. I’ve only had excellent results with my Excalibur and had lousy results with a Nesco type (can’t recall the exact name as it was years ago). That said, I have not tried crisping strawberries. I do, however, use it to get garlic slices and pepper chunks crispy dry so I can make my own garlic powder and paprika as needed. I’ve also gotten my tomato slices get super crispy, and a friend uses hers to make zucchini chips. Maybe the temperature gauge is having an issue that needs to be fixed? If you do get totally frustrated and cannot fix the issue, don’t just pitch it, though — find a way to let me know. I’d be happy to take it off your hands/find it a home! We could work out something.

    Kathy Reply:

    I contacted Excalibur and they are sending me a new thermostat and fuse. I hope that takes care of it for me. The last strawberries I tried were super thin and it still didn’t work. I know it gets heated because you can feel the hot air if it’s running. The other thing I notice is that I have to peel stuff off the screens. They don’t just pop off. I wanted crispy strawberries for the same reason you do garlic crispy. You can grind them into powder and add them as flavoring to yogurt, ice cream, etc. My friend does it all the time on her Nesco American Harvest. She’s used hers for years and has never had a problem. She dries everything.

  • dan

    Did you test the temperature of both dehydrators? It is possible that the nesco’s temp setting is actually hotter then the dial suggests, thus the quicker times?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Dan,
    Good question – I have tested my Excalibur since this, and it runs about 10degrees less than the dial. So if the Nesco (borrowed from a friend) is right on, you’re right! :) Katie

  • Ron

    I don’t think your comparing apples to apples.
    you test should have been with the garden master not the snack master. The garden master is larger than the snack master and stonger I have both. I think the garden one eill hold like 25 or 30 trays. The snack master is a toy compared to the garden master. I’ve nevrr used a excalaber but can’t see it being any better than the Garden Master.

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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