Your whole food, plant-based life.

Raw Food Equipment Questions: Dehydrators

pumpkin bread

Pumpkin Seed Flat Bread

Often I am asked to recommend equipment, especially dehydrators. As soon as our store is up, I will be able to point you there. But in the meantime, I will share with you what I know. There are many different types of equipment out there, I only have experience with what I have used. I would love for you to comment on what blenders, dehydrators, etc. you are using, how you like them and how you feel they perform.

I will start with dehydrators. Many people like the Excalibur. It is a great dehydrator and was the second type I bought. I am now on my third. I also have an American Harvest. It was my first dehydrator. I now use the TSM dehydrator. There are big differences in all of these dehydrators. These are some of the options you will want to consider when choosing your dehydrator.

Temperature Control: It is very important to have a dehydrator that has temperature control. We don’t want to heat foods above 116 degrees while dehydrating to retain the optimal nutritional value.

Shelf Configuration: While the American Harvest is a good dehydrator when dehydrating smaller pieces, the circular shape makes it more difficult to use when making flat breads, etc. Mine also doesn’t have shelf spacers, I don’t even know if they have them. You are limited to making food that is only 1″ high. Some of the breads, etc need more space than that. You also couldn’t put a pie crust in because you just don’t have the space with the circular dehydrators. Both the Excalibur and the Sausage Maker have removable shelves that are square, giving you the most flexibility and options.

Timers: This is an option that I really use. I can set the timer, go to bed and not worry about something getting over-dried. It is an option that adds more expense but I think it is well worth it. Before I had a timer, I had considered using a lamp timer. Never tried it but I think it could work.

Size: A 4 or 5 shelf dehydrator gives you quite a bit of room. If you are going to do a lot of dehydrating you might want to consider a bigger unit. I outgrew my 5 shelf very fast. That said, I do try to use my dehydrator very economically. I will make more than one thing at a time and also heat up soup or melt coconut oil while other things are processing. I really like the extra room. I also spend a lot of time working on recipes for the web site and up coming cookbook, so mine gets a lot of use.

Noise: I have found the Excalibur to be loud. The Sausage Maker is almost silent. If this is something you need to consider, I would highly recommend the extra cost for the sausage maker. If you get the Excalibur and find the noise unpleasant, you can always put it in another room, or even the basement, if you have the space.

I would love to hear your comments on what you use, why you like it and how it has performed for you. As we venture into the colder months, I know I will be using mine more!

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  1. Mykie wrote on August 21, 2010

    I eat a mostly raw, vegan diet and I am just geting started dehydrating some of my tomatoes from my garden. I was very unhappy to find that most dehydrators have plastic trays. I go out of my way to avoid contaminating my food with toxins that can be absorbed from plastics, especially under heat, however moderate. Has anyone looked into this issue, and can anyone recommend a dehydrator that is made of really food safe materials?

    • Susan wrote on August 21, 2010

      The TSM can be ordered with food grade stainless steel shelves.

  2. Cayley wrote on July 21, 2010

    You are sooo talented!!! Gorgeous photos and such delightful recipes!! What an artist!

  3. Cayley wrote on July 21, 2010

    Oh, I also wanted to say that your pictures of your food are absolutely gorgeous. Who wouldn’t want to eat raw with those beautiful pics to look at?? Do you take them yourself?

    • Susan wrote on July 21, 2010

      Cayley, the pictures are the base for the cookies that will be in the new dessert cookbook. You can see more information about that here: Rawmazing Dessert Cookbook. And yes, I do all the food photography. I have a photography site here: Susan Powers Photography

  4. Cayley wrote on July 21, 2010

    Thanks, Susan. I just found your site this week and I must say, it’s just beautiful… and informative!!! Thanks for the link on that other article on dehydrators. I noticed someone else had the same question I had in the comments:

    “*What* are those a picture of in that article????” I’m going to guess a crust to the white chocolate dark chocolate raspberry tart??

  5. Cayley wrote on July 19, 2010

    I’ve noticed some of your recipes say to dehydrate at 145 degrees for a period of time, then reduce to 115.. can you explain this? How is this still raw?

    • Susan wrote on July 19, 2010

      Yes…we talk about that a lot. We start the dehydration at a higher temperature when the food is wet. The food temperature never gets close close to the air temperature. Starting at a higher temperature shortens your dehydration time and gets the water out of the food faster, which helps prevent fermentation. The food temperature stays well below the 116 degrees so yes, it is still raw. You can read more about it here:

  6. rose wrote on July 8, 2010

    Thanks! I really appreciate it. Beautiful website too!

  7. rose wrote on July 7, 2010

    Has anyone had experience with “LEM” stainless steel dehydrators? I just noticed these online especially Ebay. They look very similar to TSM but a bit cheaper. Any info. appreciated.

    • Susan wrote on July 7, 2010

      I am checking into it for you. Just from the photo, I don’t think it is build as well as the TSM. The TSM comes apart and you can completely take the heating element off the back. But…I will find out more information for you.

  8. Tal wrote on May 2, 2010

    Thanks for this great post, I too am in need of info about dehydrators. I looked at the enlarged image of the temp. controls — on the smaller model I don’t see any numbers — it says low at one end end high at the other; the larger model indicates 90º at one end and 165º at the other, which, when divided by the number of segments on the dial, does not even give a whole number. Isn’t it difficult to figure out the exact temp. this way?
    My other comment refers to a matter of principle (for me) rather than a practical consideration; even if ignoring the name, I am not sure I could buy from a company that has a “butchering” link as an integral part of its site. I didn’t have the guts (no pun intended) to click it, but nevertheless will probably not buy it for this reason, though the silence is very tempting.

    • Susan wrote on May 3, 2010

      Tal…I think that saying the butchering link is an integral part of their site is going little far. It is one of the 28 links that they have. We carry the TSM dehydrator, not the sausage maker dehydrator. I realize it is semantics but I did not want to have a dehydrator in my kitchen with a dancing sausage on it, and I don’t. I do not eat meat. But I don’t judge those that do. I am very against farming animals, but if people are butchering their own…they have already eliminated a huge problem in the industry, which is the horrible conditions on feed lots. It is a personal decision. I happen to think it is the best dehydrator on the market and appreciate that they are making a dehydrator for those of us who aren’t meat eaters.

      As far as the temp, I just used a thermometer and marked the dial. Very easy. Also, it is made from stainless, not plastic which doesn’t break, is much easier to clean and will not off gas anything.

  9. ~Veggie Mystic~ wrote on February 13, 2010


    I am very happy with my 10 tray dehydrator from Raw Guru. It is a Good4U and in comparison with an Excalibur is supposedly quieter.
    It has a timer, temp control and I bought it when they were offering a special of the 10 non-stick sheets… something that will up the price considerably. It also came with a rack spacer so you can make foods that are taller. There is a comparison chart that shows all the pros and cons of the different brands… oh … and it was less expensive than an EX…

    Veggie Mystic


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