The Excalibur food dehydrator is a fantastic machine. I bought the 3900 series 9 tray model this summer to help me preserve my harvest from the garden at my house. Here is my review.
When I first opened the box I noticed it was well packaged and in a very sturdy box. A good thing to see when you have a package arrive at your home. It came via UPS in a matter of four days. I paid $219 with free shipping, I expected it take much longer to arrive so I was pleasantly surprised.
I ordered through Excalibur's website, but had I known one thing I would have ordered through Amazon. That one thing is a book called- Preserve it Naturally. It's 128 pages, I believe, and would have been a great free addition. Excalibur's instruction and uses booklet is OK but nothing to write home about. I had to search the internet to find the best information on how to dry some foods not contained in the factory booklet.
If you don't rotate the trays the top two and bottom two trays dry more slowly, because they are out of the direct heat from the fan blowing across them. Not a huge problem, just something I do to speed things up.
The trays themselves are very well made. I have had one pound of vegetables per tray with no noticeable bending, that's a lot of weight carried when compared to the weight of the trays themselves, which weigh 9 oz each with the liner.
I once had 10 pounds of diced potato in the dehydrator with no problems. Those potatoes were dry in about 8 hours. They also shrunk down to about 1/3 of their original size, a huge plus in my house because it's small with very little storage space. Another one of the reasons why I bought the Excalibur food dehydrator, to increase my ability to store more food in a smaller space.
I dehydrate most things down and vacuum pack them into Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber to prolong the shelf life of the vegetables. It's been said that dehydrated vegetables when sealed in an oxygen, light, and moisture free environment, they can last up to 30 years. I don't know if this is true, but it seems plausible as the conditions for spoilage have been eliminated when properly packed.
I also noticed that with my Excalibur food dehydrator came two non-stick Paraflexx tray liners used for making fruit rolls or drying liquids like tomato sauce. I haven't had the chance to use them yet but they seem to be well made as well.
The waffled tray liners are made from polycarbonate which makes them non-stick and strong. They are also very easy to clean as nothing really sticks to them. Tomato seeds will get in between the holes but once they get some water on them they fall right out.
This machine has actually saved me quite a bit of time, and money, already this year. Saved time was from not having to can all of those vegetables, which takes a long time to do. It has saved me money by allowing me to stock up on seasonal vegetables now and preserve them for the winter months. With the economy the way it is right now in the summer of 2010, I need all the help I can get. I haven't run the numbers but I'm sure I'm at least 3/4s of the way to paying off my machine.
I base the savings on the price of food during the winter months compared to the summer months. In the summer I go to farmers markets, and I also take extra vegetables from neighbors who have too much. I also go out and pick wild fruits like blackberries and blueberries and dry those for later use. Blueberry pancakes are a blessing on a cold winter morning.
This Excalibur food dehydrator, the 3900 series, comes with a 10 year warranty. I always compare the warranty of an item to it's price, so for me it costs $21.90 a year to own this machine. If after 10 years it quits on me, I'm still way ahead of the game.
Overall, on a scale of 1-10, I give the 3900 series Excalibur food dehydrator a 9. One point deducted because of the top two, and bottom two trays needing to be rotated. Other than that it's a great machine. If you decide to buy one you won't be disappointed, I'm sure.