When we purchased this house 5 years ago, the Italian plum tree had been severely cut back and did not produce much fruit. Two years later, and after I had added mason bees to my garden, I noticed in mid-summer that the tree was bearing a huge amount of fruit. It was clear that my little Ronco dehydrator would not be up to the task of preserving the harvest. After a doing some research, I decided to purchase an Excalibur 9-Tray Economy model. The Excalibur is an excellent dehydrator with a large capacity and a fan in the back for quick and even drying. A brief search on Amazon will show you that it has hundreds of 5-star reviews. It is also made in the USA and comes with a 10-year warranty. If you are considering purchasing one I would recommend buying a model with a timer, as I do occasionally forget things in mine and they come out a little brittle. Now that I am eliminating plastics in my household I wish I had the stainless steel model, but it does come at a premium.
I love using my Excalibur year-round and I’m lucky that my local Albertsons sells their overripe bananas bagged for just 38¢ per pound! Today I grabbed 3 bags, which weighed in at over 15 pounds and cost me just $5.87. And most of them were organic!
It’s pretty quick work to peel the bananas and slice them about 1/4″ thick. One tray will hold 4-5 bananas, depending on their size.
Here is my Excalibur fully loaded with the bananas. The temperature is set to 145° and they will need about 6-8 hours to dry until leathery. I keep the dehydrator out in the garage as it is quite large and rather noisy when in operation.
After the bananas have dried I remove them to a baking sheet to cool before packing them for storage. They will easily keep for 2-3 weeks, and can be frozen if you don’t plan to eat them right away. These are an excellent snack, and to tell the truth my kids don’t even like fresh bananas anymore!
After I had filled my dehydrator, there were a few bananas left over. I like to keep some bananas frozen whole for using in banana bread or pancakes, but it’s also nice to slice some before freezing to use in smoothies. Slice about 1″ thick and freeze on a baking sheet until hard before transferring to a zip-top bag for storage.
I’ll be sharing more of my favorite dehydrator recipes in the future. It’s a versatile appliance and I have been very happy with it. 🙂