Whenever dehydrating vegetables, the first step is to make sure to wash them thoroughly and slice them fairly thin. Always place them in a single layer on the dehydrator trays or cookie sheets. You don't have to have a dehydrating machine to dehydrate food. You can use your oven. Here's how:
- Turn on your oven to the lowest setting
- Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper
- Slice your veggies or fruits to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch
- Line them up in a single layer on your cookie sheet
- Bake until crisp, usually 7 to 8 hours
I find it a bit quicker to use a dehydrator, plus it does not tie up your oven for hours at a
time. You can get dehydrators for as little as $35, but they can go up to over $500 for the fancier models.
This is my dehydrator, I love it! But it is a bit pricey. I started out with a round one, but I wanted something bigger, so I saved up and got this one!
Excalibur 9 Tray Dehydrator
This dehydrator is similar to the first one that I had that was given to me by my sister. It worked well, and I used it for a few years before getting my Excalibur.
Nesco Food Dehydrator
6 Tips for Dehydrating Vegetables Successfully
- Cooking vegetables is not necessary before dehydrating if the vegetable is one that you eat raw when fresh, such as tomatoes, onions, peppers. If the vegetable is one that you usually cook before eating, then boiling or steaming them for 8 to 10 minutes before dehydrating will make them plump up better when you rehydrate them. This is not totally necessary, but I have found that it make rehydration more successful.
- I prefer not to mix vegetables when drying, as I find sometimes one vegetable will contaminate to taste of others. I do know that many people do mix items, so this is a decision you will have to make for yourself. However, never put fresh food in the dehydrator or stove along with food that has already been dehydrating. It throws off the time and will result in some items being over dried and ruined.
- When dehydrating potatoes, you MUST blanch them first. You simply slice them 1/8 of an inch thick, or you can grate them, and then boil them in salted water till they are fork tender, about 8 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK, or they will fall apart when you are trying to put them on the trays. This step is very very important. If you do not blanch, your potatoes will turn a gross shade of gray brown, and no one will want to eat them, even though they are safe to eat.
- When dehydrating bananas and apples, they will turn brown while drying and look very unappealing unless you spray them with lemon juice. This will not affect the taste, but it will stop them from turning dark. Make sure you spray both sides.
- Method of storage of dehydrated foods is very important. It is very important to store them in a clean, air tight container so they stay dry and free of moisture. The only two ways I recommend storing dehydrated vegetables is in a mason jar with a oxygen absorber, or use a Food Saver to remove the oxygen and seal the bag. I am comfortable with these methods of storage because I know they are safe, as long as the veggies are dried properly.
- To rehydrate vegetables you can either boil them for 15 minutes, one cup of veggies to two cups of water, or you can just soak them in room temperature water for 2 to 3 hours.
You don't need to have a garden to take advantage of dehydrating vegetables. You can buy vegetables at the grocery store, especially at the end of the season when the stores are inundated with local harvests and the prices are cheap. Also try picking up very ripe fruits and veggies at the store. They are usually inexpensive because the store wants to sell them before they are overripe and have to be thrown out. You can also try local farmers markets. Many times you can make a deal with the farmer if you buy in bulk and he has an abundance of certain produce. And don't forget your gardening neighbors! Trade them some dehydrated produce in exchange for fresh vegetables from their garden.
Dehydrating is a great way to store food. It takes up 1/5 the space of canning and it does not require the electricity that freezing does. It is perfect for small houses and apartments. When I started doing it, I was shocked at how easy it was and how little room you need to store a lot of food! Try it and you will be sold, I guarantee it!