If you suddenly find yourself with a bounty of fresh tomatoes or wanting to consume as many stone fruits as the month of July will allow, dehydrating and storing for later is an awesome way to save the summer. All it takes is a little patience and a low-temperature oven to remove as much water content from fresh produce as possible. It is easy to save peak-season produce at the height of their flavor without purchasing a dehydrator to clutter up your cabinets. Follow the guidelines below to start dehydrating foods and use the recipes provided as inspiration for your own DIY snacks and pantry staples.
Best Fruits and Vegetables for Dehydrating
Well-washed fruit such as halved strawberries, sliced apples, bananas, apricots (and other stone fruits) are great for dehydrating. Be sure to give the fruit a bath in a citric-acid solution (or lemon juice and water) to preserve flavor and color. Vegetables can be great to save as well; some veggies like carrots and broccoli need a quick blanch in boiling water to clean off any bacteria and preserve colors. In any case, make sure each piece is cut into the same shape to ensure even dehydration.
Dehydrate Using An Oven
Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet—the idea is that the cooling rack will promote dehydration and prevent liquid from pooling on a flat surface. Arrange fruits and vegetables on the rack in a single layer. Set your oven to its lowest temperature (180°F or lower) and place the baking sheet on the middle rack. Leave oven slightly open and ‘bake’ for a minimum of one hour, depending on the thickness of what you’re trying to dehydrate. Some fruits and vegetables will need more time, so check after every half hour or so. Properly dehydrated fruits will be slightly pliable, but not sticky to the touch.
Storage and Uses
Once you’ve removed all of the moisture from your foods, it is best to store them in an airtight container or a plastic bag with most of the air removed before sealing. They should be kept in a cool, dark space to keep as fresh as possible.
What types of fruits and vegetables are you looking to dehydrate this summer? Check out the recipes below for inspiration and get started dehydrating your favorite foods.
Fruit Roll Ups
Homemade fruit leathers are one of the best ways to sneak fresh produce into your child’s diet. It looks and tastes like the store bought snack, but has no extra sugar or preservatives to worry about. Spread purées onto clean parchment paper and cut into strips with the paper for easy storage. Get the recipe.
Snap Pea Chips
Forget buying a bag of these crunchy peas every week, they are super easy to make at home. Sprinkle with your favorite spice blends for an extra kick or a sweet and salty spin if that’s what you’re into. Get the recipe.
Cinnamon Sugar Apple Chips
One of the heroes of the oven dehydrator game is classic apple chips! Go on and slice the whole apple and you won’t even notice the seeds while snacking. Get the recipe.
Take advantage of the season and consume all of the tomatoes you can get your hands on. Slices of beefsteak or roma tomatoes make great chips while halved cherry tomatoes rehydrate beautifully in olive oil or soups and stews. Get the recipe.
Dill Pickle Zucchini Chips
Any subscriber to a vegetable delivery box can find themselves with a plethora of summer squashes. Make the most out of your bushel by dehydrating zucchini and yellow squash chips and tossing with your favorite seasonings. Get the recipe.