Vegetable dehydrating is an easy way to store vegetables for long term use. During harvest season, my dehydrators live on my kitchen counter. Herbs, greens, fruits, veggies – everything get dried and neatly tucked away for use year round. This post covers basic instructions for vegetable dehydrating to help you dry vegetables safely at home.
Vegetable Dehydrating – Why Dry Veggies for Food Storage?
- Space Saving – Because vegetables have so much water, they shrink dramatically during dehydrating. If you're tight on storage space, dehydrating is a great fit.
- No electricity required for storage – Once processed, dehydrated vegetables require no refrigeration or freezing.
- Lightweight – Since most of the water is gone, dried vegetables are lightweight, making them handy for camping or emergency preps.
- Minimal equipment required – I like commercial dehydration machines, especially in our humid climate, but folks also dry successfully with solar dehydrators or homemade drying racks. This non-electric 3 tray covered drying rack can be hung near a wood stove or other well-ventilated area for dehydrating.
Note: If using solar or air drying, drying times will likely be longer than those specified below. Turn food daily, protect from bugs and maintain good air circulation until food tests dry. For guidelines on drying foods using an oven, see “Home Food Drying – 6 Things You Need to Know to Dehydrate Food at Home“.
Recommended Vegetable Drying Tools
Solar Drying – The Sun Oven can be used as a food dehydrator as well as an oven.
See a more extensive list of kitchen tools for dehydrating in the post “Home Food Drying – 6 Things You Need to Know to Dehydrate Food at Home“.
For a full dehydrating course, please visit Traditional Cooking School. In this course you'll learn how to quickly and easily dehydrate your own traditional foods for long-term storage, summer-fresh flavors, good health and freedom from energy dependence whether you’re on the camping trail or in your own kitchen… The Dehydrating eBook & Video Package (retail $64 – sale $20) contains: the Dehydrating eBook, 5 Dehydrating Master Class Videos, Lacto-Fermented Beverages eBooklet, and bonus printable worksheets!
Prepping Your Veggies for Drying
For dehydrating vegetables, set your electric dehydrator to 140°F (60°C). Remember, thinly sliced veggies will dry faster, and if you get all the pieces roughly the same size, they will dry in roughly the same amount of time.
Most vegetables should undergo a pretreatment, such as blanching or dipping, before dehydrating. Why? They dry faster and last longer. If I'm going to spend weeks growing beautiful veggies, I can take a few more minutes to dry them correctly.
Blanching is briefly precooking food in boiling water or steam. It stops enzymatic reactions within the foods, which slows down decomposition. Blanching shortens drying time (skins are softer so water gets out easier) and kills many spoilage organisms.
Steps for steam blanching (fruit and vegetables):
Adapted from Virginia Cooperative Extension.
- Use a steamer or a deep pot with a tight-fitting lid that contains a wire basket or could fit a colander or sieve so steam can circulate around the vegetables.
- Add several inches of water to the steamer or pot and bring to a rolling boil.
- Loosely place vegetables into the basket, no more than 2 inches deep.
- Place basket into pot (vegetables should not make contact with water).
- Cover and steam until vegetables for the recommended time (Table 2).
- Remove basket or colander and place in cold water to stop cooking.
- Drain and place vegetables on drying tray.
Steps for water blanching (vegetables only):
- Use a blancher or a deep pot with a tight-fitting lid.
- Fill the pot two-thirds full with water, cover, and bring to a rolling boil.
- Place vegetables into a wire basket and submerge them into the boiling water for the recommended time (see table below).
- Remove vegetables and place in cold water to stop cooking.
- Drain and place vegetables on drying tray.
Note: Although not listed in the chart, I do blanch all cabbage family crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, etc.) for 2 minutes in a boiling water bath.
How do I Know my Vegetables are Done Dehydrating?
Up to 90% or more of the moisture is removed from vegetables when they are fully dry. They should snap/break cleanly, and be brittle. This may take longer than listed times, depending on the humidity levels.
Quick dryness check: Put your dehydrated vegetables in a mason jar, put a lid on and wait for a day. There should be no condensation on the underside of the lid. If you see condensation, put them back in the dehydrator. You might also want to cut any thicker chunks into smaller pieces.
If you want to be extra sure, you can buy a hygrometer that fits on top of a mason jar like a lid, the Hygrolid. My preferred storage method for dehydrated vegetables is vacuum sealed in mason jars. You can also use plastic zipper bags for short term storage, or Mylar pouches with oxygen absorbers for longer storage. However you store your dehydrated vegetables, keep them away from moisture as much as possible.
You may also find useful:
- Dehydrator Versus Freeze Dryer – What’s the Difference?
- Summer Squash Gummy Candies sweetened with fruit juice
- Homemade Fruit Leather – Works with a Variety of Fruits
Originally posted in 2014,updated in 2017.