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

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 upfront.  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 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

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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72 Comments

  1. I don't like Excalibur food dryer models personally. A few years ago I have the 9 tray Excalibur with timer food dehydrator device. It works fine. The timer was definitely worth the extra cash. The fruit leather sheets seem flimsy for the price. a minor complaint is an intro to drying booklet that comes with free with the dehydrator. Recently I bought a new one Nesco FD-80A Square-Shaped food dehydrator. It works brilliantly. It features, durability, performance, and easiness of use are awesome.

  2. What all vitamines-minerals and enzymes from seeds-fruits are lost in a dehydrator processing? Can you please guide me? Or give links to explore this point.
    Bipin Shah

    1. Hello there. If you dry at a low temperature I would think that those things should remain intact. Hope that helps.

      1. Sir,
        What is a low temperature range value? Any study carried out by any research organisation? Any link to refer? I will be highly obliged if some one can enlighten on these aspects. ENZYMES- The living force in raw food that can germinate itself, especially start to die out once the food is separated from roots and is subjected to temperature more than 47-53 degree centigrade, range.
        Bipin Shah

        1. Hello there. First of all, I am a woman, so no need to call me "sir" :).

          However, the typical highest temperature for raw processing is 115 degrees F. In a dehydrator the air is a higher temp than the food so I have read that setting the dehydrator at around 125 is acceptable, but I don't recall where I read that.

          I hope that helps :).

  3. Hi, are you concerned about the plastic in the dehydrator. Seems that plastic and heat shouldn't go together??? Thanks!

    1. Yes, I am -- a bit. I am looking at a stainless model now. Thanks for reminding me. I have to do more digging about this.

  4. I love my dehydrator, but I must say, I got a little lazy recently(busy making new things in the kitchen) . Thanks for the encouragement. I will get right on it.

  5. 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.

      1. I guess I'd mostly be wondering about nuts and fruit since that's most of what I dehydrate. Can you freeze them?

  6. 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,

    1. Do you mean the one down the side of the screen? What are you viewing my blog on? It's not in my way at all - thanks!

  7. 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.

  8. 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

    1. 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.

        1. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

    1. 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.

  11. 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! : )

    1. You're welcome :-). We are the same w/ the fruit restrictions. But it does a great job. Take care!

  12. I can see that this dehydrator would be a great investment! Definitely something I'll consider for the future. 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting, Judy and nice to meet you! I'd be happy to help in any way that I can.

  13. 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.

    1. 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 :-).

  14. 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.

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

    1. 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.