How to Dry Summer Squash: An Illustrated Guide

Updated on September 19, 2018
ButterflyWings profile image

Butterfly has been gardening and preserving food of all kinds for many years, and she thrives on the creativity involved in these processes.

Snakey, tender "Tromboncino" summer squashes, straight from the garden. (Non-heirloom seeds sold at Cooksgarden.com).
Snakey, tender "Tromboncino" summer squashes, straight from the garden. (Non-heirloom seeds sold at Cooksgarden.com).

A Solution for the Too-Much-Zucchini Problem

In average growing conditions, those of us who grow zucchini and summer squash usually have it running out our ears, so to speak. One family (no matter their size) can only handle so much squash, no matter how delicious, tender, or nutty the variety may be.

Squash chips, or dried summer squash, is my answer.

With squash chips, I don't have to figure out what to do with 12 zucchini in one afternoon—especially when I've already made a few loaves of zucchini bread, filled several rows of jars with summer squash pickles, and prepared a lamb-and-summer squash casserole for dinner.

Which neighbor's mailbox might I not have stuffed a couple squash into yet?

I also don't have to figure out what to give my ravenous children for a quick, out-of-hand snack. The answer is in a jar on my pantry shelf.

Equipment Needed to Make Summer Squash Chips

  • Summer squashes, any variety
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Foof dehydrator, or wire screens (if drying squash chips outside, cover screens with tea towels or enclose them in pillow cases)
  • Salt, fine grind

Step One - Slice Summer Squashes Thinly and Arrange on Screens or Trays

Slice squashes thinly.
Slice squashes thinly.
Arrange close together on trays or screens. I am using a commercial food dehydrator here, but it is possible to sun-dry squash chips in intense sun with low humidity.
Arrange close together on trays or screens. I am using a commercial food dehydrator here, but it is possible to sun-dry squash chips in intense sun with low humidity.
Salt with fine salt. Unsalted squash chips are horribly bland, so don't skip this step.
Salt with fine salt. Unsalted squash chips are horribly bland, so don't skip this step.

Step Two - Dry and Store Your Summer Squash Chips

Dry squash chips until brittle, like potato chips, at 130*-140* F. Squash is famous for reclaiming water from the air, so store as soon as cool in an airtight jar (glass is best), then in a dry, cool place.
Dry squash chips until brittle, like potato chips, at 130*-140* F. Squash is famous for reclaiming water from the air, so store as soon as cool in an airtight jar (glass is best), then in a dry, cool place.

How to Rehydrate and Cook With Your Squash Chips

Squash chips are incredibly easy to use. They require very little moisture to rehydrate (hot or cold, your choice), and while they never quite come back to their pre-dried garden-crisp state, they work fine in all cooked dishes.

Once I forgot to add the squash to a skillet mixture until the last few minutes. The zucchini still cooked up delicious and tender. As long as there is a bit of broth, water, or grease for the chips to bathe in, they'll do fine.

Squash chips also make a healthy, crunchy snack, straight from the jar. If the chips somehow lose their crispness, just spread them on a cookie sheet in an extremely low oven (about 100 degrees F.), and don't forget about them. Squash chips burn easily!

Squash chips are best if used within 2-3 months, though they will usually keep longer.

Other Ways You May Cut Your Squash for Drying

"Can I shred or cut my zucchini and summer squashes in different shapes before drying them?"

Yes, you may. Discs or chips are just one option.

You may shred your zucchini - not too finely, or it will be hard to remove from trays - and use it later in pies, cobblers, desserts, breads, sauces, soups, or casseroles.

You may slice long, lasagna-like shapes or noodle shapes for use as a pasta substitute.

You may even slice stars, moons, bears, or other fun, kid-friendly shapes, if you don't mind having to use the "rinds" for something else!

Summer Squash at Home

Do you grow your own zucchini or summer squashes?

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Cooking with Zucchini

What is your favorite way to fix summer squash or zucchini?

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How to Grow Summer Squashes in Containers

Questions & Answers

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      • ButterflyWings profile imageAUTHOR

        ButterflyWings 

        4 years ago

        Sharkye11, I am so pleased to hear that your family loves zucchini, and I certainly hope you get to try drying it sometime! The ways you give of fixing them sound delicious. Thanks!

      • Sharkye11 profile image

        Jayme Kinsey 

        5 years ago from Oklahoma

        This sounds delicious. I have two zucchini plants that I planted just for the flowers and foliage, but so far they have produced about 40 pounds of zucchini. I don't have a dehydrator though, and it is much too humid for anything to dry outside here. (the bugs would get it first anyway!) But I will keep this in mind for the future. It sounds like a great way to preserve them a bit longer. Right now I don't have to worry too much, my husband and daughter eat them as fast as the come off the vine.

        Our favorite two ways to eat them are sliced and boiled in spaghetti sauce, or sliced and boiled in beans. Yummy both ways! Thanks for the interesting tip, and I will be sure to keep my eye out for a secondhand dehydrator!

      • ButterflyWings profile imageAUTHOR

        ButterflyWings 

        6 years ago

        Wonderful idea, Melissa!

      • profile image

        Melissa 

        6 years ago

        I like to add some variety of meat seasoning to my squash chips. It gives them more flavor. Just salt is not tasty enough for me. I like Greek seasoning, BBQ seasoning etc. I've got a batch of zucchini drying right now!

      • ButterflyWings profile imageAUTHOR

        ButterflyWings 

        6 years ago

        Hyphenbird, it's nice to communicate with people of like mind. :)

      • Hyphenbird profile image

        Brenda Barnes 

        6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

        I recently discovered how yummy dehydrated foods can be. You are right about squash, it is delicious as chips or re-hydrated. Thanks for the tips.

      • ButterflyWings profile imageAUTHOR

        ButterflyWings 

        6 years ago

        Rainbow_Angel,

        I hear ya! I had to have a squash angel this year, too. Fortunately, I was given some huge zucchini from another gardener, which were too big for them to sell. I didn't make squash chips, but I did shred and dry them for use in breads and things. They work great!

      • profile image

        Rainbow_Angel 

        7 years ago

        Would love it if someone felt the need to be the "squash angel" and leave some in my car.. My garden didn't prosper this year due to the heatwave..

      • ButterflyWings profile imageAUTHOR

        ButterflyWings 

        8 years ago

        Maria, enjoy your squash!

      • profile image

        Maria Nockin 

        8 years ago

        I live in the AZ desert and think dehydrating in the sun will take care of the over abundance of squash I currently have on my porch.

      • ButterflyWings profile imageAUTHOR

        ButterflyWings 

        8 years ago

        Ralwus, you're hilarious! If I lived close to a large shopping center, this might be an option. As it is, I'm an hour from the nearest Wal-Mart, and 2 1/2 from the nearest mall. I daren't try this option at the local grocery, as everyone from church is already there, trying to figure out whose car to stuff their own zucchini into!

      • ButterflyWings profile imageAUTHOR

        ButterflyWings 

        8 years ago

        LiftedUp, I never tire of looking at squashes, tangled or not. Thanks for the visit.

        I am finding that it is possible to use more squash rehydrated than it is fresh, because the pieces don't plump up so big, and no one feels as if they're eating as much.

      • profile image

        ralwus 

        8 years ago

        One method of 'sharing' squash; drive to Walmart or a Mall. Find any car on the lot that is unlocked or a pickup and deposit the extra squash then speed away.

      • LiftedUp profile image

        LiftedUp 

        8 years ago from Plains of Colorado

        What a lovely tangle of squashes in your first photo! Things are so different in their dried forms than they are fresh, and it is great to know we have this option.

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