When I splurged on a fancy Excalibur dehydrator a few years ago, I thought of it as a money saver in the long run, for my family’s health. The main thing I wanted to make was dried fruit for cereal and breakfast. We were shopping at a local Grocery Outlet grocer, with great prices, but not everything was super fresh. Produce that would last 1 week in the fridge would last about 2-3 days before they went bad. I guess that would explain the reduced price. Being able to get strawberries for $2 per pound all year around was worth dehydrating. I know there’s real dried fruit in cereal like Special K but the last box of cereal I had came with a whopping total of 5 dried strawberries. Are they stingy with that or what? It’s like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms all over again. This post will teach you how I make and store dried strawberry chips – it’s super easy!
Excalibur vs Knock-Off Unbranded Dehydrators
Should you buy an Excalibur or go with a cheaper model? Here’s my disappointing tale.
Ok, I mentioned I splurged on an Excalibur. But let me be honest (and therefore) the guinea pig for you here. Initially, I purchased an off-brand dehydrator. It was less than half the price on Amazon and it looked very tempting because it looked almost exactly like the Excalibur.
I thought…”It’s an air blowing machine, why does it have to cost $250 dollars like an Excalibur?!” So I bought a $100 knock-off instead of the Excalibur. For those unfamiliar with my terminology, when I say “Amazon brands” it means it’s imported from China for very cheap and sold under a private label jacked up in price by almost 60% by a private label Amazon seller so you can get your product in 2 days with Prime instead of 40 days overseas shipping.
Unfortunately, that means the product quality is inferior and you just paid 60% more for faster shipping. My knock-off dehydrator broke in 2 months with light use. It just stopped turning on during a session of drying overnight.
My husband is a fairly handy engineer. He was kind enough to take apart the dehydrator to see why it wasn’t turning on. It is a fairly simple machine like most home dehydrators. It didn’t take long for him to see the part that causes the dehydrator to break was a $0.45 cent “activator.”
There are two types of activators: one that automatically resets in case of outages happen vs the one that was in the knock-off dehydrator we got.
This activator we got, when it blows out just stops working, you can’t reset it.
We looked up the price of this particular activator piece:
- 60 cents for one that can be reset.
- 45 cents for one that doesn’t reset.
The manufacturer saved 15 cents. BUT it cost us $100. What a dumb thing to cut costs on! Now the activator can’t simply be reset and we’re stuck with a broken dehydrator.
I was extremely disappointed, we were past the return date and the dehydrator was broken. My husband got a few electro-shocks trying to fix it before we decided it’s not worth it.
The moral of the story: buy an Excalibur. It’s pricey but we had ours for years and it still works like a dream.
Yummy Dried Strawberry Fruit Chip Recipe
I really love the Excalibur recipe book because it covers so many ingredients and gives you a nice ballpark for things like temperature and time. Although the set it and forget portion is easy, the washing and cutting were tedious, especially with 10 lbs of strawberry. If you’re making dehydrated fruit in bulk (for breakfast, to give out, for sale) you should see the tools I listed below to prepare fruit super fast.
After about 3/4 pound of slicing strawberries by hand, I knew a huller and slicer are amazing inventions worth investing in!
- Strawberry Stem Huller
- Multifunctional Fruit Slicer
- Fruit & Vegetable Wash (Odorless)
- Quality dehydrator sheets
Strawberry Chip Directions
- Wash and dry your strawberries. You can use a vegetable spray for a thorough wash if your strawberries were from open baskets.
- Use your strawberry stem huller to pick out the strawberry ends.
- Slice up your strawberries in one quick chop with the fruit slicer.
- Invest in high-quality dehydrator sheets, then align them on each sheet a few mm away from each piece.
- Adjust your Excalibur to 120 to 130 degrees and leave it to drive overnight (8-12 hours.) I like to leave mine longer so I went for 11 hours, it’s extra crispy that way.
Optional: it helps if you rotate the trays because strawberries dry faster in the back since it gets slightly warmer back there than the front. No one wants to get up middle of the night to rotate the tray but hey, if you’re doing a bathroom trip.
By morning, you will have fresh, warm strawberries for your bowl of breakfast cereal!
Storing Dried Strawberries
We bought these food-grade zip-lock seams Kraft envelopes with a see-through window so we can tell contents inside without having to label them. When dried and stored properly, dried strawberries can last up to 5 years!
Since we had so many pounds we decided to give some away to our friends and neighbors as gifts. They were so popular, we even decided to sell them on Etsy when we had too much!