Create your own healthy snacks at home with a food dehydrator. We list the best foods and practical tips for making jerky, dried fruits and vegetables to get you started.
With a dehydrator in your kitchen, it’s easy to create your own healthy snacks at home. You can make foods like granola or tempeh fresh from the kitchen, or you can also dehydrate foods for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
There are dozens and dozens of different foods you can dry, but some foods are better for dehydrating than others. We’ve rounded up the best fruits and vegetables for dehydrating, plus included a few recipes and tips to help in the drying process. Let’s check it out!
- 1 Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables
- 2 Dehydrated Bananas Recipe
- 3 The 15 Best Fruits to Dehydrate
- 4 Dehydrating Vegetables
- 5 Making Jerky in Your Food Dehydrator
- 6 Drying Herbs at Home
- 7 Need More Ideas?
Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables
There are so many fruits and veggies you can dehydrate at home! Fruits are the most popular choice because they make a tasty, sweet snack.
Dehydrated bananas are a good fruit to start with since they are quick to prepare. Check out the recipe below!
Dehydrated Bananas Recipe
- food dehydrator
- 5 bananas
- 1 T lemon juice
- Peel the bananas
- Cut into 1/4 inch slices
- Place in bowl
- Add lemon juice and toss gently
- Arrange in a single layer on the dehydrator
- Dehydrate on high for about 24-30 hours
The 15 Best Fruits to Dehydrate
Apples, grapes, cherries, bananas, and pineapples are all great choices, but there are many more you may like to try. The University of Georgia rated the following list of fruits to have a good or excellent drying quality.
Tips on Dehydrating Fruits
Choose the fruit for your dehydrator the same way you would choose it for eating fresh. Select fully ripened, firm pieces that are free from disease or decay. Drying fruit does not improve the quality or help it to ripen faster.
Here are a few additional tips to achieve the best results.
- Wash and dry the fruit, removing any inedible seeds that may fall out during the dehydrating process.
- Cutting them into thin slices helps them to dehydrate quickly in most cases. Exceptions include berries and grapes, which dry the best whole, though typically take longer.
- Begin by soaking your fruit in a citric acid solution for approximately 10 minutes to reduce bacteria and discoloration. Berries should be boiled for 30 seconds to crack the skin before soaking.
- Arrange in a single layer and dehydrate at 140 degrees F.
- Drying time will vary on the cut and type of fruit – between 5 and 24 hours.
- Flip larger pieces over or stir them every 3 to 4 hours when possible to allow them to dry evenly.
- Test each piece for dryness to prevent possible spoilage during storage.
- Turn off the dehydrator toward the end of the process to prevent scorching. Then, allow the fruit to rest for about an hour to complete the process.
Packing and Storage
- Allow fruits to cool before packing fully
- Pack in dry glass containers or moisture-proof bags
- Store dried fruit in a cool, dark place free from humidity.
Your dried foods will save you money, and by doing it yourself you can avoid all the preservatives that go into canned foods you find at the grocery store. Dehydrating will help prevent spoiling produce – making the most out of the groceries you do buy.
Veggies take longer to dehydrate because they contain less acid, but they can be quite delicious when you do. Consider dehydrating onions, turnips, corn, potatoes, beets, carrots, broccoli, squash, pumpkin, and beans.
Vegetables should typically be blanched before drying. Aesthetically, this prevents discoloration, and more importantly, it prevents food-borne illness.
Veggies make for great chips! Keep in mind that some vegetables preserve longer than others, and some snack foods need to be eaten within a shorter time frame because of the oils in them.
5 Reasons You Should Consider Drying Your Own Vegetables
Dehydrating vegetables has many benefits that will save you money and time in the kitchen. They make a natural addition to soups, sauces, stuffing, and casseroles.
Dehydrated veggies are portable enough to take camping or on any vacation where you won’t have easy access to a grocery store, but still, want to cook healthy foods for your family.
- Save Money.
The price of vegetables is a lot cheaper during late summer and fall when they are in abundance. Buy in bulk during these seasons and dehydrate the vegetables for use in cooking and soups.
- Save Storage Space.
Dehydrated vegetables take up less space than canned, frozen, or fresh vegetables. For example, 15 pounds of raw carrots weigh only 1-1/4 pounds after drying and can be stored in 2-4 pint-sized jars in the cupboard depending on the size of the dried pieces.
- Saves Time in the Kitchen.
Using dehydrated vegetables cuts prep time down dramatically during cooking. All that washing, drying, and cutting is already done. This makes adding vegetables to soups and stews a snap.
- Reduce Spoilage and Increase shelf life.
Drying your garden vegetables lets you enjoy your garden harvest for months after summer is over. The shelf life of dehydrated vegetables is much longer than fresh or frozen.
- Fewer preservatives.
Did you ever check a can of string beans or corn? You’ll see ingredients like x y and z. When you preserve your own vegetables, you get just the good stuff. Why add extra chemicals to your body when you don’t need to?
What Vegetables are Good for Dehydrating?
There are plenty of vegetables that you can dry. My favorites are carrots, celery, and onions since I use them for soups all the time. Not only does it save me prep time, but it prevents the extra trip to the grocery store when I am ready to make a quick chicken soup and realize I am out of celery once again.
Here are the most common vegetables you can dry and the recommended blanching & drying time for each. Times are estimates based on the size of the pieces and altitude, but this should give you a general idea.
|Asparagus||4 to 5||6 to 10|
|Broccoli||4||12 to 15|
|Brussel Sprouts||5 to 6||12 to 18|
|Cabbage||4||10 to 12|
|Carrots||4||6 to 10|
|Cauliflower||4 to 5||12 to 15|
|Celery||4||10 to 16|
|Corn||4 to 6||6 to 10|
|Eggplant||4||12 to 14|
|Green Beans||4||8 to 14|
|Mushrooms||n/a||8 to 12|
|Onions||4||6 to 10|
|Parsnips||4||6 to 10|
|Peas||4||8 to 10|
|Peppers||4||8 to 12|
|Potatoes||7||6 to 10|
|Red Chili Peppers||4||12 to 14|
|Spinach||4||6 to 10|
|Squash||4||10 to 16|
|Tomatoes||n/a||6 to 12|
Table Source Data: Colorado State Extension Office
Before you dehydrate any fruit or vegetable, be sure to wash it thoroughly. If you need to blanch something, it’s easy. Just boil it, and then dunk it in icy water using the timetable above. This slows down enzyme processes, which protects your food from going bad and losing color, texture, or flavor.
Check out this video for an example of how to blanch (and dehydrate) green beans.
How do you know when a fruit or veggie is dry after dehydrating?
The general rule is that the majority of fruits should contain 20% moisture. Vegetables, on the other hand, should be brittle and only contain around 10% moisture. If they contain more, microorganisms can grow and reproduce. You don’t want this!
Making Jerky in Your Food Dehydrator
Many dehydrators can handle jerky, which can be very fun to make, but you must take care when you do so to avoid the risk of pathogens. You can do this by using lean meat that has been pre-cooked.
You can use pretty much any type of meat you want. Here are a few tips for making great beef jerky.
- Start with partially frozen meat. This makes it much easier to cut.
- Make the slices an inch thick or less to allow for quicker drying times.
- Remove all the fat first. Fat doesn’t like to dehydrate, and it can make the jerky go bad.
- For chewier jerky, cut with the grain.
- For crispier jerky, cut against the grain.
A lot of people who make jerky at home with a dehydrator say that they can never go back to store-bought jerky again. The jerky you make yourself is more flavorful, and since you can choose the texture, you can enjoy the consistency more. On top of that, this is a wonderful way to save money on a snack which is otherwise pretty pricey!
Drying Herbs at Home
Dehydrating herbs is very helpful because then you have them available for your cooking! With fresh herbs, you have to use everything within a few days, or they go bad. Since that rarely is possible, you end up wasting a lot of herbs, unless you dehydrate them.
The best time to clip fresh herbs is in the morning after the dew evaporates. This will prevent them from wilting. Rinse them off and make sure all the moisture is gone, then dehydrate them.
You can preserve your herbs this way for future recipes. Examples of herbs you can dehydrate include spearmint, lavender, chili peppers, garlic, and more.
Need More Ideas?
There are numerous other foods you can also dehydrate or prepare by using your dehydrator. These include cheese, eggs, mushrooms, nuts, rice, risotto, soup cubes, teas, oats, whole grains, and more.
Even though most kitchens do not include a dehydrator, it is one of the most all-around helpful appliances you can purchase for your home. A dehydrator allows you to preserve foods that would otherwise go to waste, saving you time and money.
Dehydrating gives you a healthier alternative to canned foods and grocery store snack foods. If you aren’t sure which dehydrator is best for you, check out our article that reviews the top dehydrator brands.
You can dry fruits for granola, salads, and later reconstitution, as well as vegetables, meats for jerky, herbs, spices, teas, and more. Once you get the basics down, you will be amazed at everything you can prepare and preserve!