Whether you’re an on-the-go person looking to eat healthier foods, want to prepare your own snacks for work or for backpacking, or are a dedicated prepper, a good food dehydrator is essential.
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Excalibur, one of the leading US producers of dehydrators, has recently released its latest 3948CDB model with a digital timer. Read our excalibur 3948cdb review and see why we think it is such a good premium food dehydtrator choice.
The timer can be set to two different temperatures that can run for different lengths of time, up to a total of 48 hours, with automatic switch-off at the end of the cycle.
This enables fast removal of surface moisture to prevent mold and bacteria growth, followed by a longer drying cycle at a lower temperature in order to draw interior moisture to the surface for evaporation.
The ParallaxTM Horizontal Air-flow System combined with HyperwaveTM Fluctuation Technology ensures even drying of foodstuffs in all areas of the dehydrator.
The lightweight polycarbonate unit has a clear door and the body is available in only one color – black. It’s square, 9-tray design offers flexibility with efficiency.
The food trays in Excalibur 3948 are made of BPA-free polypropylene #5, the safest plastic for use in contact with food. They are safe for cleaning in the top tray of a dishwasher.
The casing material is FDA-approved polycarbonate, which will not give off harmful fumes at the temperatures at which the dehydrator operates.
The clear polycarbonate sheet in the door is lightweight and shatterproof, so it is less likely to be dropped and broken.
The dehydrator has a fan and a heating element which are electrically driven. The fan is necessary to move warmed air over the foodstuffs, ensuring an even drying process. The electrical components are housed in an enclosure at the rear of the unit, and the unit has three separate safety mechanisms to protect against electrical malfunction.
Excalibur has been manufacturing food dehydrators in Sacramento, California, since 1973, making it one of the most trusted names in dehydrators.
There is a one-year warranty on all units. An extended 10-year warranty can be purchased, but sometimes will be offered free on a special. The 10-year warranty is included if the unit is purchased directly from Excalibur or from one of its authorized dealers. Make sure to go online to www.drying123.com to register your warranty after purchasing the unit.
The 3948 Excalibur can dry up to 9 trays of foodstuff at a time. Each tray is 15” x 15”, giving a total capacity of 15 sq. ft.
Shelves can be removed to make room for foodstuffs that need more height than the space between each rack.
The 3948CDB Digital Dehydrator has a 48-hour digital timer which is an improvement over the manual analogue timers on previous models, since it is programmable to two different temperatures for two consecutive time periods.
Two-step Temperature And Time Control
The digital timer allows the user to utilize a two-step time and temperature setting for the dehydrator. The dehydrator can be set to a high temperature for a set time period, and then to a lower temperature for a further time period.
The unit will automatically change to the lower temperature when the first time period expires, and will switch off when the second one does.
The advantage of a two-step temperature control is that it can be set to initially raise the air temperature rapidly in order to evaporate surface moisture and prevent growth of mold or bacteria, and thereafter to drop to a lower temperature so that moisture from interior of the food will be drawn to the surface and evaporated in an even manner.
The timer has a memory which allows it to retain its settings in the event of a power interruption. This also means that the door can be removed and replaced without the timer having to be reset.
Excalibur’s Parallexx Horizontal Air-Flow Drying System
Excalibur has developed its own trademark ParallexxTM Horizontal Air-Flow Drying system that distributes pre-warmed air evenly over the foodstuffs on all the trays within the dehydrator.
The combined heater and large 7” fan unit is located at the rear of the unit and pushes air horizontally over all the trays, rather than up or down through them. This does away with the necessity to periodically rotate or shuffle trays in the dehydrator, as is the case with many other systems.
Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology
The recommended process for food dehydrating is to use a high temperature initially and then reduce the temperature for the remainder of the drying period. This can now be done automatically with the digital temperature and timer control, implementing Excalibur’s trademark HyperwaveTM Fluctuation Technology.
See-through Removable Door
The Excalibur 3948CDB has a see-through polycarbonate door which enables the user to monitor the state of the foodstuff without having to open the door, improving the overall energy efficiency of the unit. If the need arises, the door can easily be removed for cleaning.
6. Thermostat Range
The thermostat temperature setting ranges from a low of 95°F up to a high of 165°F.
Most foodstuffs should not exceed 118°F to avoid destruction of enzymes. To make meat jerky, a minimum temperature of 160°F is required.
7. Power Consumption
The heater element has a rating of 600W, but will use less power in standard usage.
The 7” fan is rated at 0.6A (72W).
The unit runs on 110V-120V 50-60Hz AC mains power, for use in the USA and Canada.
8. Dimensions and Color
The 3948CDB Dehydrator unit’s dimensions are:
- Height: 12.5”
- Width: 17”
- Depth: 19”
The unit is available only in black.
9. Pros and Cons
- Lightweight and Robust
- Large capacity at 15 sq. ft.
- See-through door improves efficiency
- Rear-mounted fan avoids drips and allows even airflow
- Versatile with new 2-step digital time and temperature control
- Raised control panel easier to access and view
- Automatic switch-off improves safety
- Timer Memory to avoid having to reset after power cut
- Shelves can be left out to allow larger foodstuffs to be processed
- Door and shelves can be removed for ease of cleaning
- Spare parts are available via the manufacturer
- Higher price tag, but this is off-set by the quality
- Cannot be expanded with additional trays
- Food trays don’t have a ridge around the rim to prevent food rolling off
- Non-stick drying sheets sold separately
10. Customer Reviews
Customer reviews of the excalibur 3948cdb have been overwhelmingly positive. One new owner, a commercial fig grower, reported being able to cut 3 hours off the drying time compared with the dehydrator she had owned previously.
In addition, owing to the automatic switching of the digital timer, she no longer had to worry about over-drying of her product, and was impressed by the 10-year warranty.
Another owner said that the processing time for making ground meat jerky was down to 6 hours, compared with the two-day drying period required using his previous dehydrator.
Someone appreciated its quiet-running fan and the fact that the door can be removed and replaced without having to reset the timer. Also mentioned were the easy-to-use controls with blue backlighting display (although some people would have preferred the controls on the front of the unit, rather than on a raised panel at the back). The same user reported being able to make yoghurt in the dehydrator, and that he could fit half-gallon jars into the unit.
Unfortunately it appears some systems have been sent out with different parts missing; one was sent without a door handle attached, another had no instruction manual, so check the contents when unpacking the box for the first time.
Excalibur does, however, provide excellent backup service, according to customer reviews.
In summary then, if you are looking for a good quality, reliable, easy-to-use food dehydrator for making jerky with flexible capacity, and you are willing to pay extra for its time-saving automation features, the Excalibur 3948 CDB Digital Dehydrator is what you need.
If you time it right, you might find it on special with the 10-year extended warranty included, and, by the way, the unit is shipped with the book “Preserve it Naturally”, thrown in for free.
Eric MitchellEric is the owner, author, content director and founder of dehydratorlab.com. He is the lead architect and the main man in matters concerning dehydrators, their accessories, guides, reviews and all the accompaniments.Whenever he is not figuring out simple solutions (hacks) involving cookery and their eventual storage, you will find him testing out the different types of dehydrators, to bring us the juicy details regarding these devices.He is a foodie enthusiast, pasionate about making jerky has a knack for healthy and tasty food and won't hesitate to share out any ideas that might be of value around this subject.
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