These days everyone wants to get into the exciting world of food dehydration. It’s not a trend, it’s a revolution. Why waste money buying dehydrated snacks and trail mix when it’s so much cheaper, easier, and satisfying to make it on your own. I’m no exception.
My husband and son camp often and I like making my own trail mix. So a dehydrator seemed like something that would not only be cost-effective in the long run, but an appliance we could all use together to create mountains of clean and healthy foods for ourselves. That’s why we decided to give the Excalibur 3926TB a whirl. Thankfully, we were not disappointed, not even close!
To be honest, we were not necessarily sure of what dehydrator would work best for our family, even though there are only three of us, we eat A LOT of dehydrated foods, and we’re very picky about them! Pineapple chunks need just the right texture in their chew and potato chips have to be super crispy and crunchy. Plus, we’re those people who like to try different recipes out for the same thing until we get it right how we want. So I thought that even though we’re a smaller family, we’d still benefit from something that had several trays for different recipes.
As you can imagine, that made my food dehydrator research a little stressful. I put so much effort into researching which machines were the easiest to use, took the least amount of time to dehydrate, and delivered the finest end product. Ultimately, I chose the Excalibur 3926TB (we went with the dark colour, but it also comes in white). Thankfully my family loved it!
Drying Large: Plenty of Space And Tray Availability
My husband is a jerky junkie. He and my son love beef and salmon jerky. So, if I was going to the trouble of making beef or salmon jerky, I knew I’d need a massive quantity to feed my hungry boys. If you make jerky using flank steaks like us, it’s quite an undertaking and we want to get the biggest bang for our buck. That’s where this machine delivers. The Excalibur 3926TB is large. How large? We’re talking 9 trays that allow for 15 square feet of drying space. You can use all 9 trays at once, or only use the trays you need. For instance, when making yogurt (yes, YOGURT!) you could take all but the bottom tray out. But, when making an entire family-sized batch of trail mix, you could easily use every tray and end up with plenty of tasty mix to go around. Regardless, of the number of trays, I didn’t notice any power reduction or concentrations. However, the downsize to the capacity is that this machine takes up quite a bit of counter space. It’s not something that you can just stick in the corner of an already full kitchen. You must ensure that there is enough space available to simply house this thing.
Poly Screen Sheets Keep The Sticky Away
Fruits tend to be the type of food that people enjoy dehydrating the most and let’s face it—fruits can be sticky. Bananas are super popular and they tend to stick to trays. That’s why the Excalibur makes their tray inserts with poly screen to keep foods from sticking, ensuring that your dehydrating session doesn’t get spoiled.
I love that it’s safe for my son to use too. He likes to cook and loves being in the kitchen. He also loves kitchen gadgets but in his enthusiasm, can often get burned. The poly screen sheets are cool-to-the-touch even minutes after being in the machine for an entire dehydrating session. So, I’m not worried about him burning himself and can let him join in on the dehydrating fun as much as he likes.
Best of all, the trays are easy to clean. You’ve got to love directions that say to simply spray off any crust that may be left behind. No more endless cleaning sessions following a satisfying round of dehydration. You’ll be done in minutes! For our trial run, we dehydrated strawberries, bananas, apples, and potatoes (all at once!) and there was not a single sticky issue to be found.
Turn The Knobs To Do The Job
There are tons of digitally controlled dehydrators on the market and there are even some by Excalibur. But we prefer manual controls as we often find that we have to replace appliances long before their time simply because of some sort of problem with the digital part of the appliance. While we think the 10-year-warranty should give those who prefer digital control good peace of mind, I still just prefer manual knobs for settings. It just means less headache for everyone. The Excalibur 3926TB has a knob that lets you decide how long you want to dehydrate food and a knob that uses a color-coding system to help you decide the times you’d need to dehydrate to make what you want. It’s at the back of the dehydrator so it doesn’t interfere with your trays coming in or out. And I LOVE the automatic shutoff feature! It’s so nice to know that you can leave food to dehydrate overnight without any feat of burning the house down!
It’s Time To Turn The Timer
Excalibur’s nifty manual knobs allow up to 26-hour work cycles and their patented technology allows the right amount of heat to be distributed through the timed cycle to get your snacks just right. It adjusts heat output depending on what state of the dehydration process the machine is in in, and that lets you be sure you’re going to have the most delicious beef jerky and not the most dried out beef hockey pucks.
I did find that the recommended temperatures were a little on the low side, and found myself adding additional time. This could be because I was dehydrating different things at different times.
And when it comes to what you’re planning to dry, Excalibur encourages you to dry different things at once because the aromas won’t blend. I was skeptical because I’ve had issues with cross contamination during dehydration in the past. However, I trust Excalibur and wanted to put their promise to the test. To my surprise, they were right! I thought for sure I’d smell or taste potato with the strawberries, and I did not. Some tips I’d suggest are to use a cutter for uniform sizing when dehydrating and steaming potatoes first if planning to make chips.
Some Things To Consider
The dehydrator is 17” wide by 19” deep and a hair over a foot high. It’s safe to say that this takes up some counter space when using or storing, so think about when buying. I was concerned about buying such a large dehydrator for just the three of us, but for us it worked out fabulously.
That said, with regard to cost efficiency? For such a big machine running at 600 watts, it essentially costs about $.06 an hour to run. With large appliances, the cost to run is often a factor, but not here! An entire 26-hour-cycle will cost approximately $1.56 to run. That’s impressive.
Another thing to think about when using for better results is lining the bottom of the dehydrator with parchment paper so that if you’re dehydrating something that may release juices you won’t have pools on the bottom at the end. Something to think about as well, and I plan to buy in the future, are Excalibur’s ParaFlexx silicone sheets. They’re perfect for making things like fruit leathers, rollups, taffy, yogurt melts, and so much more. Plus, if you line the bottom of the dehydrator with one of these sheets, my guess is cleanup from any residual juices would be a breeze.
While this machine is great for making jerky and snacks, it’s also a great way for raw or vegan eaters to make bread. Add to that this appliance is perfect to have when you want to make crafts with a bunch of children (there is nothing like the smell of cinnamon applesauce ornaments dehydrating in the winter before they’re given to their families as holiday gifts!) or just want to make one or two crafts with your child.
All this is not to say that this machine doesn’t come with issues other than size. First, the machine is loud. Some may find the hum of the convection sort of like white noise and it can be lulling, I just found it to be staticky. Also, the ‘door’ wasn’t super-duper easy to place or secure. It wasn’t difficult, but it felt like the slightest touch may make the door fall off. That said, it didn’t. Even when I gave the slightest touch, so it certainly isn’t a deal-breaker.
Excalibur is known for their excellent warranty period, their patented technology and their durability in both manually and digitally-controlled dehydrators. Despite the large size, I find that it allows me to dehydrate big batches of the snacks that we love and eat regularly. Overall, I’d recommend the Excalibur 3926TB for anyone looking to enhance their homemade food options. Not to mention that it’s a fun way to get the whole family involved in the kitchen. My son loved helping (and eating) everything that went in and out of this machine. I’m sure your children will feel the same way. Dehydrating should always be a family affair and with this machine, your entire family will join the food dehydration party and never want to leave!
- Performance - 8.1/108.1/10
- Ease of Use - 8/108/10
- Design - 8.2/108.2/10
- Features - 8.2/108.2/10