I remember my grandparents dehydrating apples when I was younger. They were always a treat and I’d never tried making my own, so we added a dehydrator to our wedding registry (thanks Susan!). Nothing fancy. It did the job for fruit and veggie crisps, which is all I wanted to make. Then I tried an Excalibur dehydrator.
It was only after some hands-on time with an Excalibur Dehydrator during a PlantLab workshop, that we realized what we were missing out on. The one we had at home just wasn’t going to cut it for fruit leather and nut cheeses.
When we got an Excalibur of our own, I was suddenly intimidated. It’s bigger than the our old one, with more of an industrial look. I just assumed it was complicated to figure out, so I put off using it until I’d have the time to really learn it. Retrospect, total nonsense.
Simple & Easy to use
I finally screwed the handles onto the door, removed all the tape holding things in place, and made a fruit leather. It literally took only a few minutes to prep. Trust me, I felt silly. But at least now the floodgates were open. I made more fruit leather, dehydrated fruits, and finally the whole reason I’d been wanting an Excalibur in the first place, nut cheese! I seriously love this thing! If you’re curious about that process, the videos are still in our Instagram story highlights.
What to make?
Most fruit recipes are pretty straightforward, so let’s focus on the cheese. That’s what people think is complicated, and truthfully, some of them might be. I’ve only tried two recipes so far, but I’ve made one of them several times already. Neither was difficult at all.
Just because it wasn’t difficult, doesn’t mean it was quick. The actual recipe doesn’t take long to prep. It’s the dehydrating that builds patience. Our first go at vegan cheese was the cashew brie from This Cheese is Nuts! by Julie Piatt. It’s relatively inexpensive and a must-have book if you’re embarking on the homemade dehydrator vegan cheese experience.
After your prep is done (probably about 20 minutes), it’s ready for a 24-hour dehydrator cycle. A crust starts to form on the top, but the bulk of the cheese is still too soft to remove from the mold. So it’s into the fridge for another 24 hours to set. At that point, the original recipe calls for you to remove the cheese from the mold and serve. It tastes good, but I find it too soft. So now when I make the recipe, I put it back into the dehydrator for, you guessed it, another 24 hours! This is when it really starts to look good. Exposed to the dry air, a nice crust starts to form on all sides of the cheese. During the second dehydration cycle, you can run it as long or as short as you want. It’ll depend on how soft or firm you want the cheese.
Are you doing the math? I’ll make it easy for you. 24 hours in the dehydrator + 24 hours in the fridge. Then it’s up to you how much longer you want to dehydrate. I invest a solid 72 hours into this cashew brie, which is why it’s nice to make two at a time.
Recommendations & Final Thoughts
It’s a bit of stretch to compare the Excalibur to our previous dehydrator. Yeah, they’re both dehydrators. Honda and Ferrari are both cars, but we’re not about to compare them to each other. Difference here being that an Excalibur dehydrator isn’t a dream. They’re totally affordable and less expensive than I expected.
The first time I saw one, I assumed it would be expensive, but they can be had brand new four about $200 for the 5-tray like ours. There’s also a 9-tray, so if you’re feeding an army, at least you have options.
When it comes time to decide exactly which one you want, here’s what you shouldn’t skimp on:
- Timer — Some models don’t have built-in timers, which means the dehydrator is either on or off. That’s inconvenient. A built-in timer will automatically shut off the machine when the cycle is done.
- ParaFlexx Drying Sheets — The dehydrator comes with 5 trays with mesh sheets. They’re fine for dehydrating fruit and veggies, but to make fruit leather you’ll need some drying sheets.
Recipe: Cashew Brie in the Excalibur dehydrator
Adapted from This Cheese is Nuts! by Julie Piatt — Highly recommended!
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, plus more for greasing
- 3/4 cup aquafaba (liquid from canned chickpeas)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In your blender, blend cashews, coconut oil, aquafaba, and salt until smooth.
- Grease a small 4-inch baking mold, ideally with removable sides and bottom.
- Pour the blender mixture into your mold.
- Tap it gently on the counter to remove any air bubbles and smooth the top with a spatula if necessary.
- Place your cheese mold on the center tray of your Excalibur dehydrator. Remove the unused trays.
- Set your Excalibur Dehydrator to 90 degrees F and the timer for 24 hours.
- When done, move the cheese to the fridge for 24 hours.
- With a knife or spatula, separate the cheese from the edges of the mold.
- Gently remove the cheese from the mold. Smooth the edges.
- At this point, you can eat it as is, or continue below.
- Set your Excalibur Dehydrator to 90 degrees F and the timer for 24 hours (or less if you prefer softer).
- Place your cheese on the center tray. If it’s firm enough, directly on the mesh. If it’s too soft, on a ParaFlexx Drying Sheet.
- When done, remove and enjoy with your accompaniments!
We always love seeing your pictures on instagram. Tag us if you pick up an Excalibur and try your hand at vegan cheese.
A big thank you to Excalibur for offering us their 5-tray dehydrator in exchange for a review. We enjoyed our previous one, but it’s no match for the quality and capability on this machine. We’re happy to share our thoughts with you! As always, they are honest and they are our own.
Hi, can you elaborate on the purpose the chickpea liquid serves? My son is on a restricted diet that excludes starch, so chickpeas are out. Does it just bind or is there any fermenting going on? Thanks!
Hi Natalie. Yes, the chickpea liquid acts as a binder. To be honest, I haven’t tried the recipe without it. If you do give it try, please let me know how it turns out. I’m curious!
Wow, this sounds amazing! I’m going to have to get some Convert-a-Trays to make this in my Nesco dehydrator, because an Excalibur truly is not affordable for my family.
You make do with what you have! No need to buy a new one if you have one that works 🙂
How long is it safe to keep for in the fridge? Does it freeze successfully?
I haven’t tried freezing the cheeze before, but it keeps in the fridge for about 5 days 🙂