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I love my Excalibur food dehydrator!

I've been interested in food preservation for a long time. I started making jam and jelly as a teenager and I'm happy to say the love of canning has stayed with me. Food dehydration wasn't something I knew much about. I remember my Granny drying apples every fall, and I remember her doing "leather-britches", too---but I never really got interested until my friend Beth suggested it. She knew about my love of canning and jam making so she figured it would be a good thing to add to my skill set concerning food preservation. She wasn't wrong!! However, it wasn't until I got my Excalibur dehydrator that things really took off! I've been having a BLAST over the last few months! And I'm SUPER excited to share this blog post with you. It's been a labor of love and I've enjoyed every minute of it. I've learned a LOT, and my pantry is chock full of tasty dried foods.

The following photos and comments have been compiled and added over a 3 month time frame. Some experiments worked out better than others, but I didn't have anything turn into a total failure, which is awesome!! I'd love to hear about YOUR dehydrating experiences--what you like, don't like, successes, and how you use and store the food you preserve.

Drop a line to:


See this photo below? Well, all this food started out weighing well over 50 lbs before I dried it in my dehydrator!! Onions, potatoes, corn, okra, green beans, green peas, peas & carrots, tomatoes and a mirepoix blend. That's a LOT of food, y'all! If I were to dump it all into zip-lock bags and weigh it, I seriously doubt it would be over 10 lbs!

No, I don't have a deal with the Excalibur company (#excaliburdehydrator). I just think their 9-rack dehydrator is divine! It has a thermostat and interior fan which promotes even drying throughout---it's such a HUGE improvement over the little po-dunk dehydrators I've played around with in the past. This Excalibur means business and I am thrilled!! Now--it's not a pretty appliance, and it gives off a LOT of heat, hence the reason she lives in my basement. LOL And truth be told, they are pricey. But in this case, you get what you pay for! My husband found mine on Facebook Marketplace for around $150. The usual price is around $230 for the one I have. So, I feel like I got a total deal. The lady we got it from used it maybe 5 times and was not impressed with the amount of work that food preservation requires. But that's just it----things that take time and effort are generally worth it in the end. The time I invest in canning and drying food is well spent. Plus, it allows me to totally govern what goes into the food we eat. That's important to me. Toooooooo much crap gets tossed in as preservatives or as coloring and well--it's just not necessary. My advice to anyone who has an interest in food preservation is to either find a person with the knowledge and learn from them, or READ READ READ!! There is a ton of information on the internet. Just be sure to learn from someone who knows that they are doing. You don't want to make yourself or anyone else for that matter, sick.

As I mentioned earlier, I played around with other brands of inexpensive dehydrators over the years and truth be told, they work. But---the ones with no fan, just a heating element, take for friggin' ever and I just don't have the time to spare; I like fast. That's why I'm happy to use my Excalibur. In addition to using a fast dehydrator, I've recently discovered some info that I wish I had known 20 years ago. Granted, the info wasn't secret--I just never put 2 and 2 together to connect the dots. Frozen, packaged vegetables that come from the super market are now my best, new-found friend. The food company has to do ALL THE PREP WORK, which allows me to save hours of time. No more

trimming and blanching is necessary! That's a big deal. Think about it: having a garden and growing things on your own is a beautiful thing. But it's hit or miss. You are not guaranteed a crop---there's weather, bugs, diseases, etc to take into account. Then, if you DO manage to grow enough of something to preserve, you generally have to clean it, peel it, cut it up, and blanche it before you can can or dry it. That's a lot of extra steps that I can cut out of the equation by buying frozen vegetables from the store. They are prepped and ready to go!!! Green beans, okra, green peas, carrots, cauliflower, etc....They are PERFECT right out of the bag to put on your dehydrator tray and dry!! It's soooooooo easy! I wish I had known about this a long time ago. Ahhhh....Live and learn. Hopefully YOU are finding out about it early! I don't use pre-frozen for all my drying though. I use fresh tomatoes and potatoes because they turn out better in dried form if you don't freeze them first. I also really prefer to use fresh onions, too---but the bagged onion is so convenient and it keeps me from crying in the kitchen chopping onions, so chose your battles people. I buy a few frozen ones just to help out. LOL

View the slide show below to see how full I pack my trays. See the arrow on the right hand side of the photo.

In the following photos, I'm going to show you before and and after shots of various different vegetables I purchased frozen from the store, as well as some fresh veg I chopped up myself and processed. I'll give you temperature setting and drying times, too. I want you to see the process, plus it will give you an idea of just how much water is in our food.

Keep in mind, several factors play a part in determining the length of time needed to dry an item.

  • Thick or thin slices, chunks, pieces

  • Temperature--the lower the temperature, the longer the dry time.

  • Humidity in the air

  • Water content of the veg

  • Level of dryness preferred

  • The characteristics of the individual vegetable

  • The strength of your dehydrator

The drying guides on the internet all have their own specific suggestions about what temperature to use and the length of time needed. Personally, I think it's all about trial & error as well as how much time you have to invest! I set my Excalibur on about 125° F. This is a hotter temp than suggested by many due to the fact that the nutrients and enzymes break down at higher temps. The ideal temp to for maximum nutrient retention is 105°-110° F. I turn my dehydrator on when I go to bed and usually by the time I check it in the morning, everything is dry and ready to be bagged or put into jars. It just works for me, but if you decide to try your hand at dehydrating food, you need to find what works best for you! I don't think there is noticeable nutrient loss, and there is no taste factor to worry about since 125° is too low for scorching or burning to happen. I like to set it and forget it. LOL So, while I will list some drying times, be aware that it's just an estimated guess. It takes as long as it takes.


Green Beans:

Scroll through the slides below--see the arrow on the right side of the photo below?

Ready to cook!

To cook them, I simply throw a cup of dried beans into a small pan of boiling water and let them cook for around 10 minutes. Season them to your taste using salt, onion, and some pork!

It's that easy and they cook up just beautifully! Perhaps the drying process does change the structure of the bean because the cooked texture is just a tad different than what you find in a cooked fresh or frozen bean. But it's not anything bad and I barely notice it. I could eat them all day with NO problem!! Green beans are inexpensive, and most everyone likes them so they are a great food to dehydrate and keep stocked in your pantry for a rainy day.



Drying temperature: 125° F

Drying time: 6-9 hours

Below you see a big bunch of Roma tomatoes I processed. I swear--dried tomatoes are SOOOOO sweet! It's like tomato taffy or a tomato fruit roll up!! It's concentrated tomato flavor and it's is so wonderful! I dried them with a few racks of onions---the basement smelled like a pizzeria and almost drove us crazy! Haaaaa!! They rehydrate well for soups, stews, and recipes that call for canned tomatoes. No, they are not good on sandwiches once you rehydrate them--that calls for a FRESH tomato. Leave the dried-then-rehydrated ones to cooking related recipes only.

Here's an idea---you can fill a mason jar full of dried Roma tomato slices, some dried Italian herbs, a little salt and cover them completely with olive oil. let the jar sit for a week or so---check the tomatoes to see how the rehydration is coming along. They will not get completely soft like a slice of fresh tomato, but they will get soft and chewy. Top off the oil and you have yourself a lovely jar of tomatoes that you can use in sauces! You will have to mince the tomato into small pieces or even in a food processor, unless you just really like VERY chewy food! LOL It would be great served on toasted Italian or French bread as an appetizer---just add some balsamic vinegar with some of the oil from the jar and you are set!!


Drying temperature: 125° F

Drying time: 4-8 hours

Onions are one of my most favorite cooking ingredients. I use them in everything. I thank God above Brad likes onions, too. They are very easy to dry. You just chop em' up and spread them out. They store just beautifully and cook up very nice. They dry up very small so you can store a LOT of onion in a small space. Chopped or sliced, onions are an excellent vegetable for dehydrating. I've never tried drying a green onion, but I intend to because I'm curious how it would turn out!


Drying temperature: 125° F

Drying time: 6-10 hours

This is a frozen bag mix of carrot, onion & celery. It's wonderful as a soup starter. You can even pulse it down in a food processor and use it in a cheese ball.


Drying temperature: 125° F

Drying time: 4-8 hours

Okra dries out just beautifully. And it cooks back up beautifully, too! Honestly, it's good as a snack--I sprinkle a little salt on the dried okra and much on it. It's kind of addictive---chewy, salty goodness! But--I really love okra so you'd have to be your own judge!

Since the okra is blanched before being frozen, it cooks up very quickly after it's rehydrated. I add it to soup, gumbo, or to a pan of diced tomatoes--it's wonderful stuff!

Green Peas and Peas & Carrots:

Drying temperature: 125° F

Drying time: 4-8 hours for just peas, 6-10 hours for peas and carrots

Talk about quick and easy!! Peas dry out and hold their shape very well---and they cook up in a flash. They don't have a weird tooth-feel to them, either. The carrots do have a bit more texture when cooked but I don't mind it. You just have to let them cook a bit longer. I suggest buying bags of one veg rather than a mixed bag. The carrots take a lot longer than the peas to dry, so I don't buy frozen peas & carrots that come in 1 bag.