Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The New To Us Excalibur

We have a new toy in the T kitchen.    We have dabbled for some years with raw foodism.  We did a challenge about five or so years ago and ate all raw for a few months. While we did resume eating cooked food, there have been elements of raw foods that we've kept.  Salad dressings, salad "recipes" (basically, good ways to put together a salad), green smoothies, and kale chips.

 Ooooh, the kale chips!    I have tried them in the oven, but nothing beats the perfection of the kale chip out of the dehydrator. It takes a while, yes, but it is crisp level ideal.

 We've been using a basic round dehydrator all this time, one of the ones from a major store.  It's been ok-ish.  All our food had to be parceled into small portions, and everything had a hole in the middle.  

When M started dehydrating meat to make himself protein snacks, it was clear that something had to change. The small dehydrator was simply maxed out.    The king of the dehydrator world is the Exaclibur. It's basically a big, frankly ugly box, but it's got square trays. That means more space for food and no weird holes.

So we decided to use the Wishlist feature at our bank to start saving up.   A chance check of Craigslist showed me someone nearby who was selling her 9 tray with a timer... Basically, exactly what I was saving up for, and about half the price I'd pay for new, plus it had the accessory of the nonstick liner sheets.

We grabbed our saved cash, chortled with glee, and booked to the back parking lot of a rural Denny's where two nice church ladies did a cash deal out of our back seats like really crunchy granola drug dealers.  On the bright side, the sort of person who is selling a fancy dehydrator is probably a lot safer than the sort of person selling, say, puppies on Craigslist. Still, we both brought our husbands, I guess in case the deal went south and we needed to fight our way out using stocks made of flax seeds and shivs from celery sticks.

 So far, we has discovered the Dehydrator is worth the money we paid.  It's drying things more consistently and better and faster than our round one.  We have made a lot of fruit snacks and he's made more meat snacks.  I'm excited because tonight, I'm trying dehydrator bread.  That's basically raw 'bread' made from flaxseed meal, veggies, and spices.  I've had it before and it comes out pretty neat, similar to a flat bread.  It's really filling, and it was a nice alternative to bread bread if you are watching your carb load.  I just liked the taste.  What I didn't like was the labor.

The recipe I did tonight used to fill up my entire round dehydrator, but it was only two trays of the Excalibur. It was a LOT easier to spread and now I know why raw foodists took the time to make the recipes. They all used Excaliburs.  It's much easier to load than a smaller machine. If it tastes yummy like I remember, this recipe will likely make it into my regular rotations.    Here's the big downside.  This thing IS massive. 
I would not recommend this for a small space unless you use a dehydrator a LOT, like at least once a week.   I also strongly recommend paying cash for this puppy.  When you first start down the road of dehydrators, it's natural to get excited and to want the best.  I encourage you to think about getting the cheap, small, big box store round style one, and trying that for a few months first  once the glow wears off, you'll know more about whether you want to keep dehydrating things and you can start thinking bigger.

That's where the pay cash part comes in.  If you think you might want a big one like this, save up your cold, hard cash.  It's going to be inconvenient and if you save up all that cash and you still want it, you will know it is right for you.  In this case, delayed gratification will really benefit your decision making.   Even so, if I had a pantry with the space or a spare room, this would go out there and off my counter in a jiffy.  We use our dehydrator often enough to make it worth it... Barely. Our kitchen is SUPER DUPER TINY!!    So that's our new kitchen toy  I'll report back on 'bread' when it's done!

The bread: Do not make the mistake I did and make yourself a sandwich to take to work.  It had gone major soggy by the time lunch rolled around.  Bleh!  I think it would be better to take ingredients, and assemble the sandwich on site.  I might also dehydrate the bread a little more.  I left it pliable.  But I haven't really had the chance to eat much of it!

On the bright side, the Excalibur makes the once-arduous process super simple.  I just spread the batter on a sheet and smoothed it out.  A few hours later, I flipped it onto a plain tray and peeled off the nonstick sheet.  Couldn't be easier.


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