How to dehydrate food to make healthy snacks with excess food you have in your garden or refrigerator. You can dehydrate healthy snacks in your own home. In order to dehydrate these foods you only need to wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly and spread them on the dehydrator racks. These are a number of different styles and sizes of dehydrators. I’m sorry to say that some people don’t have a dehydrator, I get that. Here’s the deal, you can dry some fruit and veggies outside on homemade screens. You can dry them in an oven. I prefer a constant temperature approach to dehydration, so I am showing you today how my Excalibur dehydrator works. Every dehydrating company has a different fan and heating/drying system.
When I was younger I had a 24-inch square dehydrator. I have no idea what the brand was but it worked great. It was huge, I am laughing just thinking about it, but it did an awesome job. Sometimes you might want to dip your fruit in lemon juice to keep it from browning before you dehydrate it. You don’t have to do this, but sometimes they look a little nicer without the brown appearance.
I do it both ways, sometimes with lemon water and sometimes just plain. It’s really just for looks, in my opinion, and the coloration doesn’t seem to affect the taste. The ratio I use is one cup organic lemon juice to one cup water. The temperatures I use for various foods are shown right next to the fruit or vegetables, like Apples 135* (means 135 degrees). Please check your dehydrating unit for the correct temperature.
Once you start dehydrating your own fruits and vegetables you will have healthy snacks in quart jars ready to snack on anytime. Please note, I do use my FoodSaver to preserve them for longer periods, but not for long term shelf life. I prefer to buy commercially processed freeze dried for the long term. I buy very few dehydrated foods. I decided I needed to find a way to preserve my “extras” in the refrigerator when I can see my family won’t finish them all before they go bad. I can only freeze so many bags of spinach or bananas due to limited space in my freezer. I also can only make so many loaves of banana bread.
Most fruits are dehydrated at 135 degrees and most vegetables are dehydrated at 125 degrees. Watch your manufacturer’s book for details because some veggies are higher. I have noted the ones below that are dehydrated with a higher temperature. Oh, I can hardly wait to tell you how easy it is to dehydrate fruits and vegetables.
How Much Time Does It Take To Dehydrate:
This is a little tricky because the time to dehydrate will always depend on the humidity of the room where the system is located. I just keep checking the fruits and vegetables to see how the process is progressing. I have a timer on mine, and I’d suggest you consider buying one with a timer. You can go to bed with the dehydrator running and not worry much about it. It will stop after the scheduled time, and then if they need additional drying in the morning I set the timer to run for a little longer. After drying them, I store them in pint or quart jars and remove the air with my FoodSaver. I do not use oxygenators. My own dehydrated food is for short term storage only, as in six to nine months shelf life.
How To Dehydrate Fruits For Healthy Snacks
With apples, all you do is wash, core, slice and peel them with an apple peeler. You can dip them in the lemon water to keep them from going brown if that is important to you. You can also sprinkle them with cinnamon for a little different flavored snack. The peeler slices them exactly how I would like them for dehydrating. I just cut them in half and lay them on the racks. The apples are about 1/4″ to 3/8″ thick. Be sure and cut away any bruising. You will dehydrate them until they still feel pliable, not crispy. My mouth is watering just talking about these apples. These are great for oatmeal in the morning, making pies, muffins or added to bread recipes. Yummy!
Bananas are the easiest to prepare for dehydrating because all you do is peel and slice them. You can use the lemon water to help stop them from going brown, or just dehydrate them plain. You will dehydrate them until they have a leathery feel. This is my favorite banana slicer of all time.
Food Storage Moms: Dehydrate Bananas.
Blueberries are really easy because all you do is wash them and remove the stems. I have never “popped” the blueberries with a sharp instrument like others do. Some people dip their colander in boiling water to pop the skins, I don’t. I dehydrate as is. These are fabulous for pancakes, muffins, snacks or smoothies. These I dry until they are leathery and crispy.
I must admit, I buy the pineapples I want to use that are already trimmed, sliced and the inner thick fibrous center cut out. I get them at Costco or another store where they are stocked. Slice them into 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices, cubes or wedges. Here’s the deal, I love freeze dried pineapple, but it’s expensive. I dehydrate as much pineapple as I can before my grand kids come to visit. I can’t store fresh cut pineapple as long as I can the dehydrated pineapple. Remember, I only store on a short term basis the fruit and vegetables I dehydrate. I’m talking about storage from six to nine months is my usual approach. The reason for this is because we eat it like candy. If there is something in my refrigerator I know I can’t consume before it goes bad…I dehydrate it. You will dry the pineapple until it is still pliable. Food Storage Moms: Dehydrated Pineapple.
Strawberries seem to be available every year in Utah around Mother’s Day, so I plan for the sale on those strawberries. I think they come from California. All you do is wash them, cut off the caps and slice them. I use a slicer, then I know they are pretty uniform in size. Place on the racks and dehydrate until leathery and crisp.
How To Dehydrate Vegetables For Healthy Snacks
Frozen Bag of Mixed Vegetables 125*:
I like to buy the large frozen bags of mixed vegetables when on sale and spread them on the drying racks in a single layer. These are easy and an inexpensive way to dehydrate some vegetables for soups or chicken pot pies. I dry until crispy.
I had such a bumper crop of cucumbers from my garden last summer and I could only make so many pickles, so I dehydrated some cucumbers. I peeled them and sliced them into 1/8″ slices, spread them one layer thick and dry until crispy. Now, these would only be added to salads and salad dressings. They would not be like eating fresh cucumbers..nope nada..! BUT, they are good crunchy snacks. Plus, you can throw them in some homemade salad dressing and they are yummy! It gives the dressing a little cucumber flavoring! Love it!
I am really fussy with my Kale. It has to be organic and washed, washed and washed again. Here’s the deal with kale, I buy the bags of the cut up Kale and wash it and lay it flat on the racks. Easy, peasy and great for smoothies. Dehydrate until crispy.
You can brush off the dirt and rinse the mushrooms in cold water. Cut off the woody portion of the stem and slice them to layer on the racks. I slice mine about 3/8″ inches thick. Dry until leathery. Great for pizza, omelets, spaghetti, or for making creamed mushroom soup.
Peas 125*: (frozen)
I swear, you are going to think I am the laziest person, but it has to be easy and quick or I won’t do the project. I buy the frozen peas on sale and spread them out on the racks to dry. You dry them until they are brittle. I like to buy the frozen sweet petite peas. These are perfect for soups.
Onions 155* (higher temp):
Onions are really easy to dry. Watch for the sales and cut the tops off, peel and slice them 1/8″ to 1/4 ” thick. Place them on the racks and dry until they are leathery. I use dehydrated onions all the time. They are ready to add to taco meat, soups, omelets, etc. I love having them all cut up and ready to use.
Oh my goodness, I used to freeze my excess spinach in freezer bags. Not anymore, my favorite way is dehydrating. I just wash the leaves really well, drain the colander and spread on the racks. I dry the leaves until brittle and crispy. I even make spinach powder sometimes by grinding the leaves in a Magic Bullet machine. It’s kind of a mess so I tend to just keep the brittle leaves in quart jars. I just add some to my smoothies every morning. I love these!
Tomatoes 155* (higher temp):
Tomatoes are one of my favorites to dehydrate. I know they are a fruit, but they seem like a vegetable to me, so what can I say? Anyway, what’s really cool about doing washed tomatoes is that you don’t have to peel them. I just remove the stem. I slice them into 1/4 ” pieces. You can do cherry tomatoes by just cutting them in half to dehydrate. I place them cut side down onto the shelves. Now, you can peel the regular size tomatoes, but I use my blender to make the dried tomatoes into tomato powder. Do not use your FoodSaver with any powders, it will be sucked up the tube and break your machine. You can put a baggy on top, but I’m a Nervous Nellie and can’t afford to buy a new machine if the powder still gets sucked up into the tube.
I hope you learned today how easy it is to dehydrate your fruit and vegetables into healthy snacks. I tend to eat these healthy snacks around the house, whenever possible.