What’s the real difference between the bargain dehydator sheet and the name brand sheet for the Excalibur Dehydrator? I put them to the test to find out for you!
I am all about saving a buck, even if the product isn’t quite up to the name brand product. There’s little in this world I must purchase as a name brand when it comes to my daily household items. Even when I first invested in a dehydrator, I didn’t go to the name brand Excalibur Dehydrator like everyone suggested, but invested, instead, in a less expensive Nesco FD-80 (which I was VERY happy with as it worked just as well as my Exclalibur does!).
Most of the time, you get your money’s worth, but not always. Sometimes, the name brand is just an over-priced item that isn’t worth the price, especially when there’s an excellent off brand verison for less that works just as well.
Is the Sticker Shock worth the Investment?
So I thought I’d put this to to the test with dehydrator sheets for my Excalibur. I had a mess of pumpkin to dehydrate. I was dehydrating canned pumpkin because in a recent pantry clean-up, I realized I had so much canned pumpkin taking up so much room, that I knew I could dehydrate it to store as a powder and save some room, but I didn’t have the sheets for the Excalibur, yet, to do it on. I could have used a sheet hack like I did for my FD-80, but I knew I wanted to do something better this time.
So I went shopping for the Excalibur dehydrator sheets and suffered a bit of sticker shock from the price. At $12-15 per sheet, I couldn’t imagine the investment to get 9 sheets to fit my dehydrator. So, I thought, there has to be a less expensive option out there. So I found them. For the price of a single name brand dehydrator sheet, I could get a whole pack of 9 for the same price. But I thought, what if this less expensive option is just trash. I need to try both. So I did.
I based my criteria on these issues:
- How easy to spread
- How easy to remove
- How durable they were
- How easy to clean
- How easy to store
The Excalibur Silicone sheet is priced at around $12-14.95 depending on your supplier. The bargain sheets are around $1.40 per sheet, depending on your supplier
Here is the result of how easy it was to spread the canned pumpkin on each sheet. The thing you can’t see from the photo is that while the Excalibur sheet didn’t help smooth the function, it held in place so much more easily than the bargain sheet which really needed to be held in place as it was so think it would buckle. So while the Excalibur dehydrator sheet isn’t as pretty, it was certainly easier to work with, overall.
For what it’s worth, I tried a few different spreading instruments like rubber spatulas, silicone spatulas, a table knife and found that this offset knife for spreading icing worked best.
Overall, removal of dried pumpkin was about even. However, handling those sheets to ‘dump’ the pumpkin pieces into a container to store until I was ready to begin the powdering process was much different. The bargain sheets have no body, so while maneuvering them is more easy as they are more flexible, that flexibility creates a problem when trying to handle becuase they can be too flexible.
You can see the difference in the sheets after handling through loading, unloading and washing. The barain brand sheets show marks at every single place they were bent, whether a soft bend or a large fold. While this doesn’t effect the performance, initially, over time, those marks will become more than the sheet can handle, and will make spreading and sticking an issue.
Cleaning both sheets was easy. Putting into a sink of warm soapy water was all either needed. However, I found a few issues. The bargain sheet was harder to clean partly because it had no body, and party because I really had to scrub to remove the pumpkin residue. The Excalibur sheets were fairly easy to clean. It would’ve helped, I’m sure, if I had put a cutting board into the sink to scrub the sheets on, but the bargain sheets would’ve still been problematic because they just can’t hold their shape and slide everywhere. The bargain brand suggests that it is dishwasher safe, but I can’t even imagine beginning to clean it in my dishwasher.
I also ran into this issue where there was water seepage along the edges of the bargain sheets. While this may not be an issue, especially after being allowed to dry, it was a personal issue for me because I was concerned at how much dirty water it had soaked up, and if there would be a contamination issue down the road. I wasn’t keen on putting even a very mild solution of bleach into the wash water or spraying the sheets after with a mild bleach solution because I don’t know how it will break down the silicon over time, I couldn’t be sure it would be absorbed in the same manner into the seam, and just because ew.
Drying times were equivalent for both sheets. If found this to be the easiest way to dry the sheets for me. I didn’t want to stand and use a towel to dry all of them as they were not easy to handle, and this let me just hang and go. The Excalibur sheets were super-easy to hang. The bargain sheets kept slipping out of the clothespin unless I got it just right, then they stayed as long as we didn’t try to move them up and down the line too much to make room for another sheet.
Both store faily easy in a paper towel tube which I then place in my pantry in a wire frame basket I got from a box store to organize kitchen supplies. While the Excalibur can only get a sheet or two per paper towel roll, all 9 sheets of the bargain fit a single roll. I’ll be switching to a thicker tube from a Christmas paper roll when we finish using it this Christmas to fit more Excalibur sheets into at once. I anticipate being able to do at least half if not all of them in the single tube.
In this case, I’m going to say, invest the money in the name brand dehydrator sheets. Yes, the bargain sheet made smoothing out a little easier, but with every other problem they have, it isn’t worth it. The smoothness wasn’t a big enough factor in what I was doing to be an issue. Pumpkin puree is very thick, so smoothing something like a fruit leather would be much easier, so that isn’t a factor down the road. It might take a little longer if you purchase one at a time, but it’s well worth it, in my experience.
The Excalibur Dehydrator Sheets are worth every penny.
Does this mean I shouldn’t bother with the bargain brand at all?
If the difference between being able to dehydrate food for your family in all forms means choosing to have only one Excalibur sheet or nothing? Sure, invest in the bargain brand sheets and understand that they do have some drawbacks. Then you can choose to invest up as you go to a material that is better suited for your machine. I’m not giving mine up at all. I’ll continue to use them (including one as a try at the bottom of the dehydrator to catch all the drips from things like the cherries we just dehydrated!
While parchment paper can work for doing things, the Excalibur sheets are just so much better in the long run, but I understand that they are a hefty investment in a kitchen tool you’ve already spent a lot of money on. I’m still only 4 Excalibur sheets into the purchasing, but I’m really happy with how they perform, so I budget a little money each month and tack one on during our Amazon buy.
As a final note: Excalibur has not paid for this product review, they did not send me product to test. I purcahsed this with my own money, used it in a real life situation over time, and came to these conclusions without any benefit from the Excalibur company at all.
YOUR THOUGHTS: What other criteria would you like to ask about between the two? Just leave your questions in the comments, and I’ll answer or test for you!
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I have to share a little funny with you all. I constantly had to go in and edit myself from typing bargain or Excalibur dryer sheet. And I don’t even use dryer sheets!
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