Do you have the habit of snacking in the afternoon? Instead of grabbing your trusty bag of potato chips, try preservative free snacks for a change. With this food dehydrator, you can even create your very own bags of healthy fruit and vegetable chips. 

The Excalibur Food Dehydrator dries fruit and vegetables by circulating warm air (35 to 68 deg C) around them. The oven-sized machine sits on your kitchen countertop and includes nine trays — each one can hold up to four bananas or a punnet of strawberries. It can take anything from three hours to a day to dehydrate most items.

We give this snack dehydrator a try for healthier, homemade goodies:Product review: Excalibur Food Dehydrator

WHAT CAN I DO?

  • Make preservative-free snacks: It’s especially useful for converting leftover ingredients and overripe fruit into healthy tidbits.
  • Prepare nuts and herbs as seasoning: Even garlic and onions can be dried, powdered and used to season meat.
  • Make yogurt rolls: Spread yogurt on a tray and dry for four hours.
  • Re-crisp cookies, cereal, popcorn and chips: To make these snacks crunchy again, it takes an hour to breathe new life into them.

USING IT

  • Preparation of ingredients: It took me half an hour to cut the apples, strawberries, bananas, celery and carrots into 0.5cm-thick slices so they dry evenly. If you don’t want the fruit to turn brown during the drying process, dip the slices in lemon juice first.
  • Temperature: I set the temperature — recommended for fruits — then the timer for 10 hours, and left the dehydrator on overnight; it automatically switched off when the time was up.
  • Cleaning it: Washing up was a breeze as the plastic mesh was easily rinsed clean.

RESULTS
As expected, the dried fruit and vegetable slices turned out shrivelled and leathery, but tasted sweet or tangy as they did when fresh. I loved their chewy texture.

VERDICT: An easy-to-use, albeit pricey appliance for those serious about home-made natural snacks.

The Excalibur Food Dehydrator, $655.40 is available at Tott; 896 Dunearn Road, #01-01A, (S) 589472; operating hours: Mondays to Fridays 11am-9pm, 10am to 9pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays; tel: 62197077. Visit Tott’s website at www.tottstore.com for more information.

All product and pricing information was correct at the time of the magazine's publication. We advise readers to check with the store for the latest availability and pricing information.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer July 2011.