Friday, June 18, 2010

Review - Cabela's Heavy Duty Dehydrator

For my birthday and mother's day present, Hubs told me I could get a dehydrator this year. I had been eyeing the high-end Excalibur dehydrators, but found the Cabela's Heavy Duty Dehydrator that has 10 trays and seemed similar to the Exclaibur. I couldn't find any sort of comparison anywhere, and a question to Cabela's customer service went unanswered.

A few weeks ago, we received a coupon from Cabela's in the mail, so we decided to pull the trigger on buying the dehydrator. So far, I really like it! [No, Cabela's didn't give me anything to write this review. Since my question didn't get answered, I'm pretty sure they don't know I exist. But if they wanted to send me a little somethin'-somethin', I wouldn't be opposed...] Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has a great comparison today of the Excalibur Dehydrator Head to Head with the Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator, and I thought I'd weigh in with my comments on the Cabela's version. Note that I haven't actually used either the Excalibur or the Nesco, I'm just commenting based on what Katie said.

By the way, we received a Cabela's ad in the mail today that notes the same model will be on sale for $99.99! The sale runs Saturday, June 26 from 8AM to noon ONLY. The original price is $149.99, so that's a very good deal... better than what we paid with the coupon, grr. Ah, well, I've really been enjoying it the past few weeks, so I can't complain. You can check the web site here to see if there is a store near you - the sale is in-store only.

The Cabela's dehydrator differs from the Excalibur as follows:

* Size - the trays are smaller on the Cabela's, but there are also 10 trays versus nine for the Excalibur. The overall size is 13"x18.5" for the Cabela's with 11"x14.5" trays; and 16.5"x19" for the Excalibur with 15"x15" trays.

* Similar to the Nesco, the trays are "what you see is what you get" - there are no screens or liners. (Though the Nesco may come with fruit roll liners, or at least you can purchase them separately.) I have found a lot of things fall through the holes in the tray. Apparently, Cabela's does not manufacture any sort of a liner for these. I considered purchasing Excaliabur liners and cutting them down, though I'm not sure what they are made of, so that might not work. The instruction manual for the Cabela's one has a fruit roll recipe that references liners, but an internet search led me to learn that they are coated with teflon, anyway, so no thank you!

To make soaked oats, I simply cut some parchment paper to approximately the size and shape of my trays, less 3/4 of an inch or so on the edges so there would be some air flow. I have used (and re-used) these pieces several times and they're still doing fine. I plan to give them a good wipe with a dish rag next time I wash dishes, but I haven't bothered doing anything else besides brush them off so far.

* I haven't found it to be terribly noisy or that it warms the room too awful much - I have used it in my laundry room (that tends to be warm anyway) and mostly it stays in the spare bedroom.

* There is no cover or door for the front like the Excalibur has. Instead, the trays have a "front" to them, so when they're all closed, they basically create their own door. I haven't found this to be a problem. I even have used the dehydrator to raise dough, and just removed the trays so my bowl fit. I'll admit it didn't seem to raise in record time, but probably a bit more quickly than in my air-conditioned kitchen. Perhaps next time, I'll hang a towel over the front and anchor it with something heavy on top.

* After using it a few times, they trays seem to catch on each other, so that as I'm pulling one out, another seems to pull out with it. I'm not sure why, but so far, it is only a minor annoyance. If it gets to be a major annoyance, I'll contact Cabela's customer service and complain.

* It hasn't bothered me that the shelves don't have sides. I typically bring the trays to the kitchen, load them, and then return them two or three at a time, and I haven't spilled yet. (Wow, that is probably tempting fate...)

* Similar to the Excalibur, it is large and heavy. It isn't something I'd leave on my kitchen counter, which is why I don't, I guess.

* The Cabela's dehydrator does not come with a timer to shut itself off. However, we have a plug-in timer that we got at Wal-Mart or some such that would work fine if I needed something shut off at an inconvenient time. From what I have tried so far, though, I feel it is similar to a crock pot in that another couple of hours won't really hurt.

EDIT: I forgot to mention... I don't think the dehydrator gets as hot as it says it does. I ran it at 165, and put my probe thermometer in varying racks; it never registered above 135. I ran it at 135, and it stayed right about 120. Not sure if that's common to dehydrators or what, but it's a bit disconcerting.

Anybody have any questions or comments about dehydrators? I'm totally fascinated by them and looking forward to using the heck out of mine! I'm linking this post to Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom.

Also, for more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

19 comments:

Sandy said...

Hey, I wonder with the similarity in price, certainly comparable why did you choose the Cabela rather than the Excalibur?

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Actually, the prices aren't similar at all. The 9 tray Excalibur goes for $220-$270. My 10 tray one from Cabela's retails for $150! That is about the same as the 5 tray Excalibur. Sorry I wasn't more clear - thanks for asking!

Jass said...

I was wondering what material the trays are made of. Do they have a Recycle code on them? If so, what is it?

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Jass, I don't know for sure, and my instruction manual is currently MIA. :>) I will check it and post here once I find it!

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

(PS - forgot to say that I don't see a recycling number on the trays.)

Jass said...

Thanks for checking!

Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship said...

THat reminds me, I keep meaning to ask Excalibur what kind of plastic their trays are. The Nesco is no. 5, I called! Thanks for this excellent and thorough review! :) Katie

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Jass, the good news is I *finally* found the instruction manual! The bad news is that it doesn't say a word about what the trays are made of. Go figure. It does at least contain the phone number, so I will be calling and will update after I do.

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

I just got off the phone! Turns out it's #1 plastic. I said, so if one broke, I could throw it in the recycle bin with the rest of my ones and twos? He said yes. Thanks for asking!

Anonymous said...

I bought the liners for our Cabela's dehydrator and we are pleased with them. They cost $29.95 for a 3 pack. Be advised to follow all directions as they do not have ANY lip on them and food can easily run over otherwise.

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Anonymous, where did you get them? The sales guy at Cabela's didn't think any were available, and I didn't see them online. Thanks for stopping by!

Greta said...

Okay, so this post was done some months, and I found your review, because I am also trying to compare the Cabelas to the Excalibur. How are you liking it these days? Any updates or tips? Thanks!

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Greta, I haven't used it a ton since writing this so I don't have much in the way of updates. Overall, I remain really pleased with how it operates. The only thing is that it doesn't come with fruit roll sheets like the Excalibur, although I found out that Cabela's does carry them. If I'm not mistaken, though, there is a square cut out of the middle to allow for air flow. Using and reusing parchment paper has worked well for me - I just cut it so it doesn't reach all the way out to the tray and it works fine.

Greta said...

Thank you Lenetta! I am going to purchase one of them with our tax return. Still not sure which. But the parchment tip is very good! Thank you for your honest response. :)

Anonymous said...

isn't parchment coated w/silicon?. i don't believe silicon is good

Lenetta said...

Anonymous, you might be right. I know my friend Laura at Heavenly Homemakers uses parchment paper, though I'm quite certain she uses "organic" or somehow otherwise non-mainstream. :>) To be honest, parchment paper doesn't concern me. It sounds like you've done a bit more research on it, and may very well come to a different conclusion for your family. Happy dehydrating! :>)

S Master said...

I am very happy with this product and would buy one again in a heartbeat. 10 yrs and not one single problem with it. Excalibur dehydrators

S Master said...

I am very happy with this product and would buy one again in a heartbeat. 10 yrs and not one single problem with it. Excalibur dehydrators

babyboomer1001 said...

Thanks for the in-depth review. I am surprised that it gets as hot as 165 degrees or that you would dry anything at that temperature. Anything over 115 is not considered raw. If you don't care, then I guess you can dry something at any temperature you want but, given the choice, I would choose raw every time.