Skip to main content

How to Dehydrate Your Own Food

Audrey is a cook who loves creating new flavors by tweaking recipes to include healthier ingredients.

How to Dehydrate Your Own Food

How to Dehydrate Your Own Food

Food Prep and Drying Foods

There are many different ways to prepare food. However, one very unique way to prepare food is to use a food dehydrator. I have recently rediscovered this wonderful kitchen appliance and have been drying fruits, vegetables and herbs. I've found that it is a great way to make sure I stay "honest" and use all my produce. This way, I end up saving money because there is no waste.

If I think I have too many apples, for instance, to use up before they might be less than fresh, I can quickly and easily turn them into dried apples. The same goes for bananas, tomatoes and mushrooms, to give but a few examples. I even dried garlic to make my own garlic powder because I had a large Costco bag of garlic I was afraid would never get used up. Let's take a look at some of the great ways that you can dehydrate your own food, save food, and save money.

Drying Veggies, Like Tomatoes

Drying Veggies, Like Tomatoes

Drying Vegetables

Drying vegetables is a great way to use up your vegetables and thus save money. It's also a very convenient way to have vegetables on hand. You can dehydrate other vegetables besides the ones listed below but this gives you an idea of just how versatile dehydrating is.

  1. Some vegetables, if they are quite dense, require a blanching period. You merely blanch, wipe dry, and then slice into designated sizes.
  2. Dry the vegetables at 125 degrees unless you're drying mushrooms. Mushrooms need to be dehydrated at 90 degrees for 2 to 3 hours and then have the temp increased.

Dehydrated vegetables can be added to soups or stews, or turned into a powder, like onions and garlic. Add to soups directly or rehydrate them for a few minutes before adding to allow them to plump up. You can dry just about any vegetable. For instance, dried sweet potatoes make excellent dog treats.

Vegetables You Can Dry in a Food Dehydrator

*Mushrooms -- Dry at 90 degrees for 2-3 hours, then increase to 125 degrees and dry for remainder of time. **Potatoes -- blanch for 5 minutes or until just translucent. Proceed to drying.

Food

Prep

Drying Time

Artichoke

Cut hearts in 1/8" strips

6–12 hours

Asparagus

Cut into 1" pieces; blanch

3–10 hours

Beans

Cut into 1" pieces; blanch

6–12 hours

Beets

Steam /cut into 1/2" pieces

3–10 hours

Broccoli

Wash, cut, blanch

4–10 hours

Carrots

Slice in 3/8" slices, blanch

6–12 hours

Cauliflower

Wash, cut, blanch

6–14 hours

Garlic

Separate/peel cloves

6–12 hours

Mushrooms*

Brush clean, slice in 1/4" pieces

4–10 hours

Onions

Slice 3/8" thick

6–12 hours

Peas

Shell, wash, blanch

5–14 hours

Peppers

Seed, cut in 1/2" pieces

5–12 hours

Potatoes (white)**

Peel, slice 3/8" thick, blanch

6–12 hours

Tomatoes

Wash, slice 3/8" circles

6–12 hours

Zucchini

Wash, slice 3/8" thick or grate

5–10 hours

Most Fruits Can Be Dehydrated

Most Fruits Can Be Dehydrated

How to Dehydrate Fruits

Fruits are delicious when you dehydrate them. You can eat most dehydrated fruits "as is" without rehydrating. For instance, dehydrated apples or bananas go great in a steaming bowl of oatmeal, as do cranberries or blueberries. You can rehydrate apples for applesauce or for a pie. You can also mix and match so to speak and dry apples and pears at the same time for a delicious combination. You can even dry canned fruit!

Another possibility is making your own fruit leather with your food dehydrator. It's about as simple as preparing the fruit, whirring it in the blender and pouring it onto the trays. When my kids were little, I made this all the time.

I buy organic apples so I scrub them really, really good and leave the peel on when I dehydrate them in the food dehydrator. They turn out fantastic, and I love that the extra fiber from the peel is still there. You can pretreat fruits to retard browning and give a longer shelf life. Pick up ascorbic acid mixes at the supermarket or you can use natural pretreatments like lemon, lime, pineapple or orange juice. Soak 5 minutes and place on trays. Dry fruits at 130 to 140 degrees.

Fruits You Can Dry in a Food Dehydrator

Dry at 130-140 degrees.

Food

Prep

Drying Time

Apples

Cut in 3/8" slices

4–10 hours

Apricots/Peaches

Cut in quarters

6–16 hours

Bananas

Cut in 3/8" slices

6–12 hours

Blueberries/Cranberries

Dip in boiling water to crack skin

10–18 hours

Citrus Fruits

Slice 3/8" thick

6–12 hours

Coconut

Slice 3/8" thick

3–8 hours

Grapes

Remove stems

6–10 hours

Lemon or Orange Zest

Zest of rind from peel

8–12 hours

Mangos

Slice 3/8" thick

6–16 hours

Pears

Cut 3/8" to 1/2" thick

6–16 hours

Pineapple

Cut 3/8" to 1/2" thick

6–12 hours

Strawberries

Halve or slice 1/2" thick

6–12 hours

How to Use Your Dehydrator

There are many more ways that you can put your food dehydrator to use as well.

Here are just a few:

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Delishably

  • When prices are low for herbs or you have an overabundance of home-grown herbs, put your food dehydrator to work and dry your own herbs.
  • Dry your own spices.
  • Make your own dried flowers.
  • Dry nuts and seeds.
  • Meats and fish can also be dried but at higher temperatures.
  • Use your food dehydrator to make jerky.
  • Make fruit leathers and roll-ups.
  • Use your food dehydrator to dry things for craft projects.
Herbs Work Too!

Herbs Work Too!

How to Dehydrate Your Own Herbs

If you have a garden, make full use of your herbs by drying them during the season and especially towards the end of the growing season. If you don't have an herb garden, you can still make use of your food dehydrator by buying herbs that are in season. Stock up and "grow" your own herb and spice collection by drying them for later use.

I routinely buy several flourishing basil plants for use in the kitchen during late spring and summer and as the plants start to fade off, I pluck off the leaves and dry them for later use. It is much easier than air drying or oven drying to use a food dehydrator!

Tip: Remember that 1 teaspoon of dried herbs = 1 tablespoon of fresh.

For drying herbs, there is little to do but pick the leaves (or stems and leaves if drying parsley), wash in cold water and pat dry. Put them in the food dehydrator at 90 to 100 degrees for the designated time and voila! You have dried herbs to add to any dish you prepare.

Herbs You Can Dry in a Food Dehydrator

Prepare herb leaves, rinse in cold water, pat dry.
Dry at 90-100 degrees.

Herb

Prep

Drying Time

Basil

Use leaves near top of plant

20–24 hours

Chives

Chop, rinse, pat dry

20–24 hours

Cilantro

Rinse, pat dry

15–18 hours

Dill

Rinse, pat dry

1–3 hours

Garlic Clove

Cut in half, pat dry

6–12 hours

Ginger Root

Slice 3/8", grate, pat dry

2–5 hours

Marjoram

Rinse, pat dry

1–3 hours

Mint Leaves

Rinse, pat dry

20–24 hours

Oregano

Rinse, pat dry

15–18 hours

Parsley

Rinse, pat dry

20–24 hours

Rosemary

Rinse, pat dry

20–24 hours

Sage

Rinse, pat dry

20–24 hours

Tarragon

Rinse, pat dry

20–24 hours

Thyme

Rinse, pat dry

1–3 hours

There are many reasons for learning to dehydrate your own food. Most importantly, if you learn to dehydrate your own food, you'll be putting money back into your pocket. If you think of the potential "return" on not wasting food, you will quickly see that learning to dry your own foods is really a bonus.

Yes, there is an initial outlay of money for the dehydrator itself but it will pay for itself quickly. You also have the added benefit of drying pesticide-free or organic produce of your own growing if you are lucky enough to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Another added benefit is "putting food up" as they did in times past. In winter months, if you've dried things like fruits and vegetables, you will be able to enjoy the bounty of your food preparation efforts. Drying fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats and fish is definitely on a par with canning and freezing foods.

As a savvy shopper, you can also take advantage of sales and buy to your heart's content then turn your purchase into a food bonanza by using your food dehydrator. What about the nutritional value of dried foods? Foods that are dried retain all their nutrient properties except for a slight loss in vitamin C. Otherwise, calories remain the same, fiber remains the same and vitamins and minerals remain the same.

In short, using a food dehydrator and learning to dehydrate your own food is a great way to maintain a healthy diet and save money. You save money simply by using up what you have before it goes bad and you avoid what we all hate to do which is throw away food.

Worried about storing food that has been dehydrated? Most foods are easily stored in airtight containers. The beauty of storied dried foods is that they take up little to no space.

There are also many delicious recipes out there for use with a food dehydrator.

Some of my favorites:

  • Dog treats
  • Fruit roll-ups
  • Creamy mushroom soup
  • Energy bars
  • Granola
  • Turkey jerky
  • Chili powder
  • Caramel corn
  • Dried apple wreath—not to eat but how lovely!

If you're looking for a way to save money and also a way to make food from scratch, investing in a food dehydrator is a sound investment. Learning to use your food dehydrator is both fun and informative. The foods you can dry and the recipes will keep you busy for a long, long while.

I've only given you a hint at the many uses for a food dehydrator and hope you will discover for yourself how to dehydrate your own food. If you invest in one, I think you will be pleased you learned how to use a food dehydrator because it is a tried and true process of food preparation that has been around for centuries.

If you have favorite recipes for how to use a food dehydrator, please share them with us in the comment section below.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is there a difference between top rack and bottom rack placement when dehydrating food?

Answer: No, since the air circulates.

Related Articles