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If you’ve been toying with the idea of dehydrating, or you’ve been doing your dehydrator research, or, in fact, if you already dehydrate food stuffs, you’ve most likely heard of Excalibur, and probably heard that it’s the bee’s knees of the home dehydrator brands. Excalibur is known for its quality and durability, but its models also tend to be on the more costly side. We found the Excalibur 3926TB 9-tray dehydrator for a great price, so we thought we’d take the chance to review it and find out if it really is among the best home dehydrators.
The Excalibur 3926TB boasts nine trays and, thanks to a box design that maximizes drying space, it’s got an overall capacity of 15 feet. That’s a substantial amount for a home dehydrator. To be frank, if you only want to dry out the occasional half bunch of grapes or handful of tomatoes that are lurking at the back of the fridge, this model probably isn’t your best option. To make the most of your investment, you need to dehydrate a fair amount of produce. This model is a good option for people who grow their own produce or hunt. Not forgetting all you bargain hunters out there. If you buy large quantities of produce in bulk because it’s on offer at a big discount, then this model is a good option for you, too.
If you need to dehydrate bulky or taller items, you can remove some of the trays or move them around to find the configuration that works best. This also makes it a great option for proving dough – just remember to remove enough trays to allow for a good rise – otherwise you’ll have sticky, dough-covered trays, and stunted dough.
For those who like to support local industry (which incidentally reduces your carbon footprint), this Excalibur dehydrator is made in the USA. It features nine trays, with removable mesh inserts to make removing food items super easy. And, as a definite plus, the trays and inserts are BPA-free. However, we were disappointed to note that the same cannot be said of the outer casing. This is made of polycarbonate, which Excalibur states is FDA Approved and perfectly safe. They go on to say that the outer casing does not produce any harmful fumes or residues when used under 160 degrees Fahrenheit. As the maximum operating temperature is 155 degrees, this seems acceptable – but we’d honestly prefer it to be completely BPA-free, particularly at the comparatively high price point. Excalibur states that not only is this home dehydrator FDA approved, but also food safety approved by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food, the UK Food Standards Agency, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and multiple other worldwide regulatory agencies.
How it Works
We won’t bore you with the science too much, but the proprietary technology of the Excalibur is worth mentioning. The Excalibur exclusive Parallex Horizontal Airflow drying system makes the 3926TB ten times faster and more efficient than comparable models.
It’s got a fan, heating element, and thermostat all mounted at the back of the unit. Cool air gets drawn in and passes over the heating element, where, once heated, it’s forced forward by the fan and distributed evenly over each tray, from back to front. Thanks to this design, you don’t need to rotate trays throughout the dehydration cycle to get even drying. Because the food dries faster than with comparable home dehydrator models, it retains more nutrients and looks and tastes better.
As well as the Parallex horizontal airflow system, the Excalibur 3926TB boasts Hyperwave Fluctuation technology. This feature automatically adjusts the temperature throughout the drying cycle. Um… Why? I hear you ask. Well, many constant temperature dehydrators result in foods that are super dry on the outside, but still moderately moist in the middle. The problem with this is that trapped moisture limits the lifespan of the dehydrated goods and have the potential to harbor bacteria and encourage mold buildup. With a fluctuating temperature, the outside hardens while the temperature is higher, but as the temperature drops, the moisture trapped inside is drawn to the outer surface. Then the temperature rises again, removing the moisture that comes to the surface. This occurs throughout the entire cycle and results in food that’s dry enough to create powder if you wish. Yes, you can do this manually with other dehydrators – you can repeatedly adjust the temperature every hour or two – but, quite frankly, it’s a pain. And if you want to dehydrate overnight, it’s not terribly practical. So the presence of Hyperwave, combined with the Parallex airflow system is a definite plus.
There seems to be a great deal of confusion out there, regarding warranty. Many Excalibur reviews claim that you only get the 10-year warranty if you buy directly from the Excalibur website – but that’s not accurate. When you buy a brand new Excaibur 3926TB, you get a 10-year warranty. You don’t get a warranty if you buy used. 10 years is a pretty impressive warranty, and definitely shows that the brand has absolute faith in their product. Obviously, the usual exclusions apply, and you can void your warranty if you open the casing or attempt to fiddle with the motor or any part of the internal mechanisms.
- The Excalibur 3926TB is a versatile dehydrator that’s suitable for dehydrating meat as well as fruit and vegetables. Thanks to its design, you can also use it to make yogurt, prove dough, dry clay, flowers, and a whole bunch of other arty crafty stuff.
- It’s got a temperature range of 95 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ve got plenty of scope for drying anything safely, while still retaining maximum enzyme and nutrient content.
- There’s a 26-hour timer for when you just want to set and forget, and the Hyperwave will automatically adjust the temperature throughout the drying cycle.
- A removable door makes loading, unloading, and cleaning the dehydrator nice and easy.
- The motor driven timer is a big plus if your area is prone to power outages. This means that, in the event of a power cut, the machine specifically tracks the actual drying time, so when the power comes back on, the 3926TB will just pick up where it left off, and your produce will still get the correct amount of drying time.
- One drawback to the 3926TB is that it doesn’t come with nonstick sheets, which you use for making fruit leather or drying out really small items. At this price point, we’re surprised that you don’t even get a couple of sheets to get you started. Instead, they’re offered as add-ons. However, we just use parchment paper when we’re making fruit leather – it works just as well, in our opinion.
- A second feature that we’re not mad about is the positioning of the controls. They’re on top – but right at the back. We understand the necessity – it’s because of the fan, heating element, and thermostat setup that ensures the most efficient and effective drying – but it’s a tad inconvenient if you’re hoping to operate it on a kitchen counter beneath wall units. But you can’t have everything – and the speed and efficiency make the awkwardly placed controls a worthy sacrifice.
Now, the cost is a little high, as I’ve noted previously. But, you do get an awesome system for your money. We found the Excalibur 3926TB with $99 off, taking it down to $250 – which, while still costly, does make it considerably more affordable.
Despite conflicting information, the Excalibur 3926TB runs at 600 Watts. It’s the smaller five tray model that runs at 440 Watts.
Because of its proprietary technology, this home dehydrator is more energy efficient than comparable models and runs at an average of $0.05 per hour. So, depending on what you’re drying, you can complete a whole load for just $0.25 – which is pretty good, considering the large capacity.
Summary: The Good, The Bad, The Meh
Overall, we think the Excalibur 3926TB is a fairly impressive home dehydrator. It’s definitely not for everyone, largely because of the cost, but it’s a worthwhile investment if you’ll get the use out of it. For those who want to dry large quantities of fresh produce and who want a long-lasting, durable machine, this model is a smart choice.
Remember that the awkward positioning of the controls mean that you’ll need to make sure you have somewhere you can operate it easily. Also remember that you’ll need to buy the nonstick sheets separately – or you’ll need to cheat like us and use good quality parchment paper. These drawbacks fall into the “meh” category for us – they aren’t deal breakers – just points to be aware of.
The fact that the shell isn’t BPA-free is something of a disappointment, in our opinion – but on the plus side, the operating temperature range is low enough for this not to be a concern – and the tray inserts are BPA-free.
The Excalibur 3926TB is energy efficient, has a huge 15-foot capacity, and a long 10-year limited warranty, and it is one of the better home dehydrators on the market. However, if you don’t think you’ll make the most of the large capacity and don’t want the fancy features, you can always go for a less expensive option, like the Nesco FD-75PR.
If you’re wondering why you might want to dehydrate stuff – find out why you should use a home dehydrator here. If you want some simple ideas to get you started, check out this great post from Delicious Obsessions for 80 foolproof dehydrator recipes. And if you’d like to share your thoughts or your own favorite recipes, please go ahead and comment. We love hearing from you!