Dehydrator Recommendations?

I've been interested in getting a dehydrator for about a year (live in a very humid area) but haven't pulled the trigger yet.  I'd love to hear the pros and cons of the different dehydrators in use.  I've never used a dehydrator for anything so I know nothing other than some have temperature control, some have stacking trays, some are round and some are square.  Please provide feedback on what made you choose yours, and, what do you like most and least now that you are using it.

Original Post

Hi Debbie! After seeing Georganne's (www.lilaloa.com)  idea to use a dehydrator (love that girl!!), I went with the same model, but in the square version.  If you have not seen it, here is her great posting on the topic:

 

http://www.lilaloa.com/2012/06...hat-you-need-to.html

 

I know that there are many other models out there, but I am happy with mine.  I love it for RI transfers in particular as well as to set my base coat faster in order to be able to get to my detailing sooner.

We have the L'Equip 528, and I love it! We didn't pick it special, it was just one my bus. partner had and had forgotten about. I love the rectangular trays because they fit perfectly into our baker's rack, and the temp options are great(even though we only use it on the lowest setting). It's made a huge difference in decorating for us-I can flood a cookie, throw it in the dehydrator for 5-10 minutes, do top level detailing, put it back in for a few more minutes, and there's absolutely no bleeding. It really helps with the drying process as we're in a humidity nightmare location too. Definitely one of the best tools we have!

As long as it has a temperature gauge, I think that's the only "must have". Some of the differences are;

 

1. Where the fan is located. They are either on the top, bottom or back. I've read that it's best to get one where the fan is on the back because it dries all the racks more evenly. I have one where the fan is on the back, and I don't know that it makes any difference. I would recommend one that has the fan on the bottom or back though as opposed to having the fan on the top/lid. Only because it's kinda a pain (and a bit heavy) when you are constantly lifting/removing the top to add cookies.

 

2. Stackable trays or sliding trays. Sliding trays are much easier to use. It's much more convenient to slide a tray open and put a cookie in, rather than having to lift the trays and restack them to close. This is just a convenience factor.

 

3. Circle/Square vs Rectangle. I believe (though I could be wrong) that all square or circle dehydrators have a center "pillar" to allow better air circulation and to be able to stack the trays. The problem with this is that the trays are very slightly angle down towards the center. It's only a VERY slight angle - but I was having the problem of the icing run off the side of the cookie when I put them in the dehydrator. I found I had to make my flood icing a bit thicker to avoid this problem. I was also having the problem of the icing drying with cracks because the icing was shifting during the drying process because of the angle of the trays. This could be just my problem with the consistency of my flood - I'm assuming not everyone has this problem. The other issue with the center "pillar" is that you can't fit as many cookies per tray like a flat, rectangle tray.

 

3. Size. Make sure to note the dimensions of the dehydrator! Some of them are BIG!

 

4. Price. Excalibur Dehydrators are really expensive but are considered the "best". If you are using the dehydrator for only cookies - I don't think it really matters. I don't think name brand matters here.

 

I have a LEM dehydrator and love it: http://www.lemproducts.com/pro...4177/food-dehydrator 

I got mine for $100 when it was on sale.

 

If you're a hobby cookier, and only make a couple dozen cookies here and there - go to Walmart/Target and get a circle one for $40. It will do what you need it to do and won't break the bank. But if you're making several dozen cookies a week - I highly recommend getting a rectangle one with sliding trays. If you don't, you'll get frustated with the stackable trays and eventually go out and get a different one in a month or so (can you tell I'm speaking from experience?!).

 

Jill has covered this topic really well, above! I would add that I bought one of the cheaper round dehydrators with stackable trays and a fan at the top (Nesco brand). I find that having to stack the trays IS a bit of a pain (I've dinged a few cookies when putting the lid back on) and the racks are a bit sloped. But if my cookies are outlined, it works very well. 

 

If I had to buy all over again, I'd probably pay a few extra dollars and get a sliding rack-one like the Excalibur.

Thanks - this is just the info I needed.  I first started thinking about dehydrators after reading posts from both Georganne (LilaLoa) and Jaci (Ali's Sweet Tooth).  I had heard about the "dip" towards the center from others as well.  I may not decorate as much, since I don't sell...but if Texas's governor signs the new home baker bill sitting on his desk, I'm thinking about holiday sales at our South Padre Island Farmers Market.  That will make me rethink having to set up 3 or 4 fans around the house... a dehydrator will be greatly appreciated.  I even got a heat gun for Christmas from my son... that was a flop for me, very bulky and unwieldy...HEAVY.  I gave up after two decorating sessions.  Thanks again for your great answers! 

I am always dinging cookies too.  I thought it was just me!  ;-)  Very informative thread!
 
Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:

Jill has covered this topic really well, above! I would add that I bought one of the cheaper round dehydrators with stackable trays and a fan at the top (Nesco brand). I find that having to stack the trays IS a bit of a pain (I've dinged a few cookies when putting the lid back on) and the racks are a bit sloped. But if my cookies are outlined, it works very well. 

 

If I had to buy all over again, I'd probably pay a few extra dollars and get a sliding rack-one like the Excalibur.

It appears that Julia and I have the same one and she makes some excellent points. I agree about the sloping and I have to wait until they are crusted a bit.  Admittedly, I went for budget when I got mine and that was a driving factor in my decision. The Excaliber is indeed better with the sliding trays and non-sloping issue.  As I have to keep fending my Boy Scout son off from wanting to use mine to make jerky, if I do relent, hand mine over to him and upgrade, I will look at the Excaliber.  For now, it does the trick and I just have to bear its issues in mind.

I can attest that if you live in a dry climate (I live in NM with humidity at or below 20 percent most of the time) leaving your cookies in the dehydrator too long will definitely DRY out the cookies!  I had a disaster once and ended up with the most beautiful cookies that were incredibly hard (the RI was at the shatter stage if you know what I mean) and I didn't realize what they were like until I saw someone bite into one and make a face   These were for an event and I was mortified!  I have been a little leery of using it since but I think I will begin experimenting with it to prevent craters.  

Good morning everyone!

I currently alternate between the heat gun and a heater fan.  I really like the sheen on the royal icing when I use the heater fan.

Does the dehydrator leave a sheen as well? I've been wanting to get one, and  and the Excalibur sounds like the way to go.  Has anyone tried the 4-tray model? Amazon has several models, and so does Kohl's.  I have been hoarding my Kohl's cash for a while, and so this would almost be 'free'.  LOL!

 

I believe where I was getting in trouble was trying to dry them completely in the dehydrator.  I read LilaLoa's post about leaving them in there for a couple of hours with no drying out and never took into consideration the vastly different climates!  I am definitely going to try the 10 minute set.

I'm ordering an Excalibur 9-tray today from Amazon!!  I flooded owl cookies yesterday afternoon, they were dry to the touch this morning, but if I press on them, they're still soft inside.  I added the eyes and wings, etc around 1 this morning. I even used a heater fan!

 

At 9:30 this morning, they were still so soft I couldn't package them.

I don't remember this ever happening before.  We have central air. I wonder if that caused the problem?

 

eatableArt posted:

Hi, I'm a newbie here, I'm interested in buying a dehydrator, I couldn't makeup my mind between an Excalibur and Tribest Sedona brand, both comes with a stainless steel trays. Any suggestion or advise please. Thanks in advance.

Not familiar with the Tribest brand, but I have worked with the Excalibur and really like it.

I'm so excited. I just found a dehydrator at one of the Goodwill stores in my area. It says 1983 on the box so it's an oldie. The plastic on it has yellowed due to age but it looks like it was never or hardly used. I plugged it in and it works. I was a bit concerned about the fan being on the bottom (didn't think about that in the store) but  having read what was said above having the fan on the bottom seems okay. I'll definitely be giving this a try. I certainly won't load it with a bunch of cookies at first. Maybe just one to see how it goes. You can't beat $9.99. I highly recommend that you all check your second-hand shops. I've found a bunch of cookie cutters for super cheap. Now finding this dehydrator, I will be frequenting the Goodwill/used shops more often. I've also found some useful items at the "Dollar Tree."

 

 

Add Reply

×
×
×
×