How to Use Dehydrator Sheets: The Benefits, Care and Alternatives
Dehydrator sheets are one of the most popular accessories for your food dehydrator. Learn about the benefits, cleaning, and alternatives for this innovative product.
Dehydrating is a great way to preserve food and create healthy snacks, but it can be messy. Foods with juices and sugars, such as fruits, can get stuck on the wire mesh of some dehydrator trays.
Dehydrator sheets make the process so much easier. They are flexible, non-stick sheets that sit on the trays of your dehydrator to prevent sticky foods from creating a mess.
The Benefits Of Using Dehydrator Sheets
If you’ve never used a dehydrator sheet, you are in for a treat. These sheets are the ideal accessory for dehydrating foods and save you from having to worry about food sticking in your dehydrator.
Here are just a few of the benefits.
- Prevent sticky messes. Dehydration can be messy if it’s not done correctly. The non-stick surface helps food slide right off the sheets when you are done.
- Help your food stay on the trays. The solid design makes it easier to dry small items like herbs or small veggies pieces, so they don’t fall through cracks.
- Protects your dehydrator. Food can sometimes get on the inside of a food dehydrator and leave it with a dirty, oily film for you to clean up.
- Safer than the alternatives. Dehydrator sheets are made from non-stick silicone that is safe to use in your dehydrator because it does not react with heat like parchment paper or plastic wrap.
- Easy to clean and reusable for years.
Shown above are the Kispog silicone sheets made for square sized dehydrators.
Types and Uses
There are a few different styles of silicone insert and each have their perks.
- Mesh – Most dehydrators come with at least a few of these sheets. They do a great job at keeping food from sticking to the dehydrator. The mesh design also keeps airflow at a maximum for faster drying.
- Fruit Rollups – Silicone sheets that are designed specifically for making fruit leather and rollups. They have a solid surface with excellent anti-stick properties.
- Solid – Solid silicone sheets are the most versatile of the three. They can be used for dehydrating very small pieces as well as making fruit leathers. The solid design also makes them a little easier to clean.
How to Use Silicone Dehydrator Sheets in a Food Dehydrator
Dehydrator sheets are easy to use. Simply put your food on the sheet and place it on the dehydrator tray.
After the drying cycle is complete, remove it from the dehydrator, and your food should come right off. That’s it!
Clean up & Care
Contrary to what you may think, it is not necessary or even recommended that you wash dehydrator sheets before each use. You only need to remove any residue that may attract dirt or cause them to stick together.
First, remove all solid pieces from the drying sheets. Then simply wipe them down with a damp cloth.
You can use soapy water if needed, but for most uses warm water works just fine. Then return them to your food dehydrator for the next batch of fresh fruit or vegetables.
Shown above are the Bright Kitchen Brand – a good example of the mesh style sheets.
What Are Dehydrator Sheet Made From?
Dehydrator sheets are made from non-stick silicone. Silicone is popular to use in baking and cookware since it does not react with food.
It has no taste, odor, or color and is resistant to temperatures from -60⁰C to 200⁰C. Silicone rubber withstands high heat while also resisting extreme cold without cracking. This makes it perfect for dehydrating
Are Silicone Dehydrator Sheets Safe?
Yes, silicone dehydrator sheets are safe for your food dehydrator. They do not react with or absorb flavors from other items in the dehydrator.
The FDA has approved silicone as a food-safe substance and it is generally considered inert and will not leach into foods.Iowa State University – Education & Outreach
The non-porous material will not pick up bacteria like some plastics can when exposed to moisture.
This means that the taste and quality won’t be altered by anything else in your oven or dehydrator tray.
What Are The Alternatives to Dehydrator Sheets
Two common alternatives to silicone baking sheets are parchment paper and plastic wrap. We’ll compare these two options and review the pros and cons of each.
Silicone Dehydrator Sheets vs. Parchment Paper
Parchment paper is a popular alternative to dehydrator sheets since it is readily available and doesn’t create any unwanted odors when heated in the oven or food dehydrator.
It can also be easier to use since you simply throw it away.
However, some foods will stick to parchment paper, so you may need to use a spatula to help loosen the remaining bits.
Parchment paper is also not as heat resistant as silicone. Since most dehydrators dry foods at a lower heat, this is only a concern if you are drying foods in an oven. It is rated for use 420 to 450 degrees F and while it won’t burn, it may start to scorch at higher temperatures which can affect the taste of your food.
Dehydrator sheets work better for drying foods with a higher moisture content. This is because parchment paper wrinkles, which can make it hard to peel and flip the mixture on the sheet every now and again during dehydration.
Plastic Wrap vs Silicone Dehydrator Sheets
Plastic wrap is another option to make messier snacks in your dehydrator. Some folks like to use it when drying fruit leather since it is flexible enough to remove the dried fruit without it tearing.
The plastic will also keep juices from spilling inside the dehydrator making cleanup easier. It can work fine as an alternative, just be aware of some of the drawbacks.
- Air doesn’t circulate quite as easily through plastic wrap which can slow down the dehydration process.
- Plastic wrap is very thin, so it can be harder to remove the food from the dehydrator.
- Plastic wrap is not recyclable.
How Do You Find Dehydrator Sheets to Fit in Your Dehydrator?
Most major brands carry their own line of dehydrator sheets.
When buying, it is important to pick a size that will fit in your dehydrator – some of them are very specific and won’t work with other models.
To check the dimensions of your dehydrator, find the model number on the back or inside cover (usually a sticker). Once you know what brand you have then you can figure out what size dehydrator sheets to buy.
If you aren’t sure of the size it is better to go up. You can cut them down if they are too big.
The following brands offer different sizes of dehydrator sheets: Nesco, Presto, and Excalibur. For example Presto makes fruit roll-up sheets below designed to fit their machines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s cover a few of the basics in case you missed them earlier.
What exactly is a dehydrator sheet?
A dehydrator sheet is a thin piece of flexible silicone that conforms to the shape and size of dehydrators, preventing fruit or other dried foods from falling through the trays and making a mess.
What are dehydrator sheets made from?
Silicone dehydrator sheets are a food-grade silicone that is non-porous and safe for use with your food. They come in different thicknesses, which vary the time it takes to dry out completely – the thicker they are, the longer it will take.
How do I store dehydrator sheets?
Silicone dehydrator sheets should be stored in a cool, dry place.
How many dehydrator sheets do I need?
The number of dehydrator sheets you need will depend on the size of your food dehydrator. At a minimum, get one for each tray in your dehydrator.
Dehydrator sheets are a must-have for anyone who wants to make the most of their food dehydrator.
They make cleanup fast and expand the variety of recipes you can make. From sheets of fruit leather to small veggie chips, using silicone sheets makes it easier to create the types of snacks you love.
Plus, these reusable sheets are economical and last a long, long time!