How To Dehydrate Food To Make Healthy Snacks

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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

Apples 135*:

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 135*:

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 135*:

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.

Pineapple 135*:

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 135*:

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.

Cucumbers 125*:

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!

Kale 125*:

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.

Mushrooms 125*:

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.

Spinach 125*:

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.

Food Storage by Linda

8 thoughts on “How To Dehydrate Food To Make Healthy Snacks

  • February 11, 2015 at 8:18 am
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    I love to dehydrate fruits and vegetables! I give them at Christmas for gifts and the family definitely looks forward to it! One thing, when I dehydrate onions, I do it outside – I did it in the house once and it took weeks for the onion smell to go away!! Have you tried dehydrating cooked ground beef? Christy at southernplate.com does it and it works great for saving freezer space because it is stored in a canning jar on the shelf.

    Reply
    • February 11, 2015 at 8:24 am
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      HI Susan, I bet people love those Christmas gifts. I am going to go check out that cooked hamburger. I have done hamburger jerky. The hamburger at Costco has too much fat. I did onions in my house one year…never again…I am glad to hear I am not the only one to do that ONCE! Linda

      Reply
  • February 12, 2015 at 9:40 am
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    Have you ever tried oxygen absorbers in your tomato powder since you can’t use your Food Saver?

    Reply
    • February 12, 2015 at 11:08 am
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      Hi April, I have stopped doing any “canning” with #10 cans because a local church group made available items we could “can” ourselves. I spent $1200.00 and gave several cases to my daughters for Christmas one year and a year later we realized we were not shown the correct way to use oxygenators or how many to use in each can. They are all different. All of the food was rancid. I was sick to say the least. I cannot afford to lose that much money again. After that costly mistake I only buy commercial freeze dried or dehydrated food. I do make my own short term dehydrated snacks or onions. Thats it. Linda

      Reply
  • February 12, 2015 at 10:27 am
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    Can I do my dehydrating in my oven? What temp do you recommend? I am also curious about that hamburger dehydrating. Thanks.

    Reply
    • February 12, 2015 at 11:11 am
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      Hi Claudia, I would research the oven dehydrating. I only use my Excalibur dehydrator. Here is the link to the hamburger jerky I made:https://foodstoragemoms.com//tag/hamburger-jerky/ It tastes really good. I store the uneaten in the frig or freezer. The fat content is critical. Costco does not sell the kind of hamburger we can use. Linda

      Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 6:58 pm
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    Hi, I have two questions.
    1. Does dehydrating fruits and vegetables hurt their vitamin content?
    2. I see you mentioned the Excalibur Dehydrator, is that the one you would recommend? Thank you

    Reply
    • May 9, 2018 at 7:31 pm
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      Hi Doug, years ago I have a HUGE Harvest Gold dehydrator that was about 24 inches square. I wore that bay out and was asked by Excalibur to do a review on one. They sent me one and I gave it to my daughter and bought one with 9 trays one with a timer. Yes, I would highly recommend that brand. Does the vitamin content diminish the vitamin content, more than likely yes. We are taking the “moisture” out of the fresh fruits and vegetables. But the trade-off is having dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A and C decrease by heat or air. Blanching results in loss of vitamin C. Here’s the deal, if we could grow our food and eat it daily that would be a perfect world. But I live in the desert and I can’t grow foods year round. So we preserve it in several ways. I hope this helps, you would love an Excalibur dehydrator. The timer is a great feature so it turns off if you are gone. You can always turn it back on for another hour if needed. Linda

      Reply

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