How and Why to Dehydrate – Part One (3 Ways to Save Money Dehydrating)

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Dehydrator Save Money Wmk

Ever since we purchased this sleek, black machine about 1 year ago, I have almost not stopped talking about it.  Well, not really…

That’s the way that I am about things that I’m excited about — that’s a lot of the reason why my husband encouraged me to start this blog.  He’d say, “Well, you are always wanting to share with others about great things that you have found, so this way you don’t have to keep repeating yourself!”

I didn’t know that I was getting that redundant.

At least he meant it as a compliment.  And now you get to hear about one of my favorite things in my kitchen (well, actually, it is now in our pantry) — our dehydrator.

I’ll be sharing specific techniques and recipes for the dehydrator in the future, but for now I just want to tell you why you should get one and what you can do with it so that you can benefit from the time and research that I put into our purchase.

First of all, why would you buy a dehydrator in the first place?  Over the next few days, I’m going to show you how a dehydrator will help you:

  • Save money
  • Save time
  • Increase the nutritional quality of your food

Today–the saving money part.  Yes, the machine (especially a really good one like the Excalibur, will cost a good bit of money up front.  However, like other good “investments”, it will quickly pay for itself.  Here’s how:

1.  You’ll be able to purchase food at a discount and then process it for use throughout the year. This past year we went to a local orchard and purchased as many half-bushels of apple seconds that we could fit in the not-so-big trunk of our ancient Nissan Sentra.  I spent the next several days slicing and drying fruit and now we are still eating the dried apples from last year and they are delicious!

Dried Apples in Dehydrator

Dried Apple Slices

We’ve also been able to load up that same Nissan’s trunk to capacity with discounted bananas from Aldi and then make dried bananas from them.  And these are not the processed with oil and sugar variety that are called “banana chips.”  No, these are wonderful chewy dried bananas that sell for about $10 per pound regularly.  What a savings when you can score on some discount bananas for about $.19/lb and then dehydrate them!  We sure looked like weirdos pushing our cart up to the register, but it isn’t weird to live beneath your means!

Dried Bananas in Dehydrator

Dried Banana Slices

2.  You’ll also save money by not making extra trips to the store. This is an often-overlooked part of savings that people forget about.  If you have a well-stocked pantry, and know how to make substitutions when cooking, you will find yourself running out to the store less often for that “one thing you ran out of” because you now have backups galore.  Boy, do those gas savings add up!

3.  Finally, you’ll save money by being able to make specialty foods for your family without the “gourmet food” price.  We made our own sun-dried tomatoes using last summer’s harvest and they are still making their way into omelettes, pasta, etc.

Make Homemade Sun Dried Tomatoes in Dehydrator

“Sun-Dried Tomatoes”

We also made our own fruit leather and –

Homemade Fruit Leather in a Dehydrator

Apple Fruit Leather (sorry, it got a bit squooshed together)

here’s a BIG money saver — flax crackers!  No picture for this one (they all got eaten), but 4 ounces of these sell for between $5 and $5.99 on the internet right now.  That’s almost $24 per pound!  Organic flax seed through my local buying club is just $1.40/lb.  You’ll love them and you’ll love the price!

I recommend the same dehydrator that I purchased (The Excalibur). I know that it is not cheap.  I’ll go into its merits more later, but in a nutshell, it

works great
dries evenly
has a great warranty

Since I’m an authorized dealer, if you purchase one through me, you get the best deal around.  Check out the savings on my Excalibur Savings page.

Just contact me through my Contact Me page, leave a comment below, or email me at wholenewmom at gmail dot com.   Your purchase will help support this free blog as well.

If you’d like some thoughts on why spending money on a “big ticket” item like an Excalibur Dehydrator now might actually save you money, please read my post on Inflation – One Way to Beat It.

I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.  Join me again tomorrow when I’ll share the time and space saving benefits of dehydrating.

What would you most like to dehydrate?

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  1. We love our dehydrator; using it most often for drying produce (used for snacks on the go). We have made a dehydrated “soup base” using onion, garlic, carrot, celery and some fresh herbs…wonderful and small storage space.

    • How interesting…I just purchased some dehydrated vegetables in hopes of making a new vegetable soup base. Do you have specific measurements and if you would be willing to share instructions for your broth I would be most grateful!

  2. Michelle in Colorado says:

    Kiwi was on sale a few weeks ago and I dried that.

  3. Hi Adrienne,

    I just discovered your blog, through Kitchen Stewardship, and I love it! Thank you for sharing your tips and secrets to make other people’s lives easier!

  4. I love the idea of being prepared with dried items from a dehydrator. Like the soup base–that could save me $ on evenings when there is nothing to fix that is fast. Great post! Found you from the Family Balance Sheet.

  5. I have never considered a dehydrator, but after looking at your sun-dried tomatoes, I just might have to look into one. I use them in a lot of my cooking.

    Thanks for linking up to Kitchen Economics. I hope to see you this Wednesday.

    • Hi Kristia! I have to say, that the sun-dried tomatoes are wonderful!! They are one of those things that I would love to buy but will not since they are so expensive. And this way I can get them even “no spray” or organic, or out of my own backyard (provided that our garden works out this year :-)!) I am scheduled to do a guest post on them at Kelly the Kitchen Kop sometime within the next few months so it you are following my blog you will see it for sure. I will for sure try to make it over to your blog again on Wed.

  6. I have an old small dehydrator that I use every summer but I’d love to hear more about your dehydrator and how useful it is. I haven’t been able to dry blueberries, but pie cherries are my very favorite fruit to dehydrate.

  7. I might be interested in buying the Excalibur if I knew how much it cost.
    Thanks,
    Gail

  8. Thanks for linking to our Frugal Tuesday Tip. Hope you link in the future! http://juliecache.com/2011/05/30/frugal-tuesday-tip-19/.html

  9. Kim Ward says:

    Please contact me about a dehydrator purchase – I tried to write to you at the other spot on your blog, but there was no captcha code to enter??? Thank you. I am interested in purchasing a dehydrator.

  10. Thank you for the post. I have been thinking about getting a dehydrator and wondered if and how I would use it. I am looking forward to reading more.

    Heather

  11. Oooh, I want one now! I have appliance envy!
    :)

    Where does one get one of these at a thrifty price?

  12. Adrienne, it does sound like a great value, but right now there’s no room in my budget for an expense that big. I’ll keep it in mind in the future, though. Thanks!

  13. Jessica Moore says:

    I found your blog through Kitchen Stewardship (I think… ) when she (or someone else) posted something about your Moroccan Viniagrette. We make it All. The. Time. now and love it!
    Anyway, I’m commenting here to ask you about the Excalibur.
    I have been wanting one forever, but haven’t yet taken the plunge :)
    Is this the one that you can take the trays out of and put jars in for making yogurt?
    I need a place that is a stable temp (90*-110*) for 24 hours and I just don’t have it at my house.
    My oven with the light on gets over 130*
    So anyway, I just wanted to know if you’ve tried that or if you know if it works.
    Thanks!
    Jessica

    • Hi Jessica!
      Thanks for coming by and I’m so glad to hear about the vinaigrette. Isn’t it amazing?!
      Yes, the Excalibur is the one that you are talking about. I am actually a dealer (my button is off my blog right now….I need to get it back on there :-).
      I love it and just used it tons over the weekend to process about 60 pounds of tomatoes (some I had to freeze).

      I can offer you a great deal (I think it really is the best on the market) where you can get 3 free Paraflexx sheets and a really nice cookbook to go with it. The info is on my Excalibur Savings page.

      Let me know what you think after you read that and I would be happy to answer any questions that you have.

      By the way, I think it was Modern Alternative Mama that you came from, but Katie and I are friends. She lives here in the same city :-).

  14. I just bought an Excalibur about a month ago. I just found your website the other day. I wish I had seen your offer before purchasing. Your offer is really a good deal! I would have loved to get the Paraflexx sheets for free.

  15. I have wanted a food dehydrator since I was a kid. I used to watch those Ronco infomercials and BEG my mom for one. She finally buckled and got me an imitation and the trays melted! Needless to say, I’ve been eyeing the excalibur for a while. I’m intimidated by its size. I honestly don’t know where we would put it. We just sold our microwave so we could have more counter space.
    QUESTION: Have you ever made kale chips? The ‘cheezy’ kind? They’re like $7 at the health food store and never come out right in the oven.

    • Hi Andrea. I have never made the cheezy kind (you mean with nutritional yeast?). But here is my post on them: Kale Chips – Do It Yourself. I put my dehydrator in my pantry on a small telephone table in a corner. I have seen other “real foodies” put them in their laundry area in the basement. I wouldn’t keep it in the kitchen. It’s a bit too big for that unless you have a gargantuan kitchen. I even (hee hee) had mine in one of our small living areas for awhile until the pantry idea struck me. I’m not the best at organizing. Let me know if you decide to get one. I assume you saw my Excalibur Savings Page. I would love to help you with a good deal if you decide to “take the plunge.”

  16. I have always passed by the marked down produce rack at our local Meijer and wondered what I could do with the discounted items. I never even thought of dehydrating them before. I don’t know if I would take the leap and buy a new one at first, but perhaps if I see one at a yard sale this season I will pick it up and try it out. If I get “hooked” I will upgrade!

    • I think you’ll love dehydrating -thought I must say, the Excalibur is amazing. Let me know when you decide to upgrade and I can help you get the best deal. Take care!

  17. Seems like excaliburs are taking over the healthy blogging community, haha! And yes, I’d like to join the party and own one. Fruit leather sounds great, and I’ve heard you can use it to make yogurt, too, which sounds way easier than the cooler method I’m using now! Maybe someday :-)

  18. I grew up a vegetarian and my mom did nothing but dehydrate my foods. I loved them and I love them still. I buy packaged dry fruits and I have the hardest time finding them not loaded with added sugars. I try to cut that out as much as possible. I always look at dehydrators whenever in the store because I am a huge fruit fanatic. Now I can’t wait to hear more on this wonderful Excalibur.

    • I don’t like the added sugars either. I have a huge amount of soaked walnuts drying right now. I’d be happy to talk w/ you anytime about the Excalibur. Take care.

  19. I too have an Excalibur and I LOVE it! I dehydrate everything and it saves a ton of money.

  20. I have been experimenting with our Excalibur, too. Love it! We’ve done fruits from the store and herbs from our herb garden, but I am really looking forward to dehydrating the tomatoes and veggies from our garden this year. :-)

  21. You are persuading me! I really want one now. LOL!

  22. Would you share your applesauce fruit leather method…lots of applesauce in my freezer.

    • There are tons of ways to do it (with adding different things to it), but basically you just need to put the applesauce on the dehydrator sheets and turn the machine on until it’s the dryness that you would like. You can mix other fruits in, or coconut, or cinnamon–basically the sky’s the limit.

  23. Thanks for linking up to TheStuffofSuccess. I LOVE my dehydrator and yes I did shell out the extra money several years ago for the beautiful Excalibur and the Paraflex sheets. My favorite thing to do (besides the fruit leather that the kids love) is corn on the cob! LOVE IT.

  24. I too sing the praises of my food dehydrator. Once tomatoes season hits, it is in non-stop action until the garden gets frosted. I mainly dehydrate cherry tomatoes, but this year I am hoping to branch out into “chips” of kale, beets and chard. And of course herbs.

    I am splitting hairs here, but dehydrating doesn’t increase nutritional quality, the food doesn’t get more nutrients; it just loses water. You could say it increases nutrient density.

    • Hi there. By your comment, are you referring to my post on boosting nutrition w/ the dehydrator? I meant soaking and dehydrating….and the like. Thanks :-).

  25. I can see that this dehydrator would be a great investment! Definitely something I’ll consider for the future. :-)

  26. Jenny in Colorado says:

    We have the Excalibur and LOVE IT! Best dehydrator out there, worth every penny. I use mine mostly to make beef jerky, and I’ve also dehydrated sprouted grains in it. We don’t do too much fruit because we try to regulate our blood sugar, but kiwi is out of this world when dried. Definitely need to use it more, for veggies and the like. I think because we keep it in the garage it becomes “out of sight, out of mind” for me. Thanks for the reminder! : )

  27. What is the electrical use on running a dehydrator for long periods? Every time I’ve used one our bill went nuts, almost as much as running an electric heater, which it was plus the fan. Anyone have info on power use/costs?

    • Your actual cost for using the dehydrator will depend on your local utility company, and how much they charge per kW/hour. And what dehydrator you have, of course. The Excalibur dehydrators use 600, 440 and 220 watts for the 9,5, and 4 tray models. So check your utility costs and get back to me — I couldn’t find my Kw/hr rate so I am not sure what I am paying now, but I don’t think it’s that much.

  28. Inviting you the Carnival of Home Preserving on my blog today and every Friday. Hope to see you there. Laura Williams’ Musings http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com

  29. I’d love any more information on the dehydrator. I have a round one that I’ll be using again this summer, but I am also beginning to think really long term (camping, survival type stuff) and I’d like to know more about yours.

  30. We found your site from wholenewmom.com while looking for carob chip recipes. We bought an Excalibur dehydrator about 3 years ago after finding a Yahoo group about dehydrating. A lot of the people on that site were praising the Excalibur dehydrator. We tried using it the first summer and fall we had it. We dried peaches, apples, blueberries, watermelon, Vidalia onions, grapes, tomatoes, and some herbs.

    Unfortunately everything we dried ended up being moldy after a period of time. We went back to the Yahoo group and tried to find answers, no help. After seeing your site, we thought maybe you could help give us some ideas of what we did wrong. We thought we followed the recipe book directions, but???? We dried until the items would either snap when bent or would bend and more or less keep their shape for a while. The blueberries turned into little rough blue rocks that when we tried to use after soaking in hot water, had no taste.

    Any ideas?
    Thanks, Bob & Betty

    • Were they moldy after drying you mean? I have never dried blueberries, but cranberries didn’t work well and I am not sure why. My tomatoes and zucchini all came out fabulously. Maybe try calling their headquarters? I would think that you aren’t drying them enough if they are molding.

      • The blueberries were just like rocks, and no flavor. Everything else got moldy.

        • I really don’t know. I use my dehydrator a lot but mostly for nuts, seeds, flax crackers….and I did a ton of apples and pears awhile ago….and fruit leathers. I really wish I could help but I think perhaps you should call Excalibur. I’d love to hear what they say.

  31. Sherry Fredley says:

    There is no end to the things you can do with an Excalibur!! The only problem I run into is where to store it all! I do love to use it for drying herbs and making my own garlic and chili powders. They are so much fresher than store bought and I have control over them being organic without breaking the bank.

  32. Love your website. I know now all the reasons why I soak my beans for my chili. I got a dehydrator and I look forward to some good tips from your website.

    BUT, is there a way to get rid of this pesky SHARE patch (Facebook, twit etc.) It covers chunks of text and images..
    Maybe move it on another edge of the screen?

    Thanks

    Marcel,

  33. Do you have a recipe linked for the flax crackers?

    Also…how do you store your dried goods? I’ve stored mine in mason jars and I feel like they still get stale in there.

  34. Just ordered a 9 tray excaliber, they are not readily available as far as I can ascertain in Ireland