You might feel frustrated that some of the fruits and vegetables you buy from the supermarket end up spoiling quickly so you have to throw them into the compost bin.
If you want your fresh produce to last longer, you should consider dehydrating your fruits and vegetables. While this might sound like a complicated task, it’s actually quite simple.
What does it mean to dehydrate food? Dehydrating food basically removes its moisture content so that it doesn’t spoil and become moldy.
This saves you the money you’ve spent on fresh produce. It also gives you delicious dried snacks that you can enjoy when camping, backpacking, or traveling. Here’s your crash course on how to dehydrate fruits and vegetables.
Dehydrating Fruits And Vegetables – Why Do It?
If you dehydrate fruits and veggies, this provides you with many benefits.
- You will preserve the nutrition of the produce you’re dehydrating as the fruits and vegetables will contain the same fiber and nutrients that fresh produce contains.
- Once dehydrated, these foods will maintain their nutrients for longer. By comparison, fresh produce loses its nutritional value after a few days of being refrigerated.
- The dehydrating process increases the sugar and calorie content of foods, which makes them provide a much greater energy boost. This is why dehydrated snacks are so great when you’re hiking or doing strenuous outdoor activities!
- Since dehydrating food prevents it from spoiling and becoming moldy, this decreases your risk of being exposed to bacteria and diseases from microorganisms.
- By having dehydrated fruits and vegetables in stock, you’re prepared for any emergencies that can occur. This is why dehydrating foods is such a way of life for preppers.
Dehydrating Fruits And Vegetables – What Are The Cons?
- Some nutrients are removed during the dehydrating process. These include Vitamins A, B, and C. Therefore, you have to ensure you get these nutrients from other food sources.
- Dehydrating fruits and vegetables increases their amount of calories and sugar, which can cause your weight-loss goals to backfire.
- The dehydrating process isn’t difficult but it can be time-consuming. You will have to wait several hours for your fruits and vegetables to be dehydrated.
- Since dehydrated foods have had their moisture content removed, this can put you at risk of dehydration if you eat too many of them. Not only do we get the water we need from drinking it, but also from consuming water-rich foods.
What Are The Best Fruits And Vegetables To Dehydrate?
Some fruits and vegetables will be dehydrated better than others. For example, fatty foods, such as avos, are tricky to dehydrate because they’re so oily and rich.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best produce to dehydrate at home.
- Cantaloupe: If you want a sweet treat, dehydrate cantaloupe. It becomes sweet and sugary when its moisture is removed, so it’s great for sugar cravings and the kids will love this dehydrated fruit.
- Strawberries: You know those pieces of dried strawberries in store-bought cereals? You can make those by dehydrating strawberries at home. They will be sweet and delicious.
- Bananas: When they’re dehydrated, bananas become like chips and they’re crunchy to add texture to your granola or cereal. However, when dehydrating bananas, be sure to put them in an acidic solution beforehand so that they don’t turn brown.
- Mangos: These fruits become leathery but pliable when dehydrated, giving you an appealing texture and flavor.
What about vegetables?
These all become dehydrated successfully as they become hard and brittle, so they’re perfect for adding to recipes such as for stews, or you can eat them as chips.
How To Dehydrate Fruits And Vegetables At Home
You can easily dehydrate fruits and veggies at home so that you prevent them from spoiling quickly. You have two different methods for doing this: you can use your oven or a dehydrator.
If you’re using the oven, you will have to use a temperature between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The oven door should be left open a bit to let moisture escape during the dehydrating process.
Note that dehydrating foods at room temperature can only be possible if you have the right amounts of heat, humidity, and enough air circulation.
Your Guide To Dehydrating Fruits And Vegetables
Step One: Prepare the produce
Some fruits and vegetables need to be pretreated to prevent oxidation. This will preserve their nutrients and make them look better after being dehydrated.
Place your sliced fruits in an acidic solution of 3 ¾ teaspoons of powdered ascorbic acid in two cups of water, and let them sit for 10 minutes. You can also just fill a bowl with equal parts water and lemon juice, then let the fruit slices sit in it for 10 minutes.
Vegetables have to be blanched before the dehydrating process, but you don’t have to blanch peppers, herbs, garlic, or onions. Blanching softens them so that moisture can be released and they can be dried at a faster rate.
You can easily blanch vegetables by boiling them for a few minutes then putting them in an ice bath. This stops the cooking process and will preserve their bright colors during the dehydrating process.
After blanching the vegetables, drain them.
Step Two – if dehydrating fruits and vegetables in a dehydrator
If you have a dehydrator, then dehydrating fruits and vegetables is really easy. You will just plug in the appliance, turn its dial, and start the dehydrating process!
- Load your fruits and vegetable slices onto the trays of your dehydrator. Avoid overlapping them.
- Switch on the dehydrator. You will have to check the user manual to find out the recommended drying times. But, generally, you can expect the dehydrating process to take between eight and 12 hours.
- Check the produce at regular intervals to ensure that they’re drying properly. To do this easily, you just have to take one of the slices out of the dehydrator and let it cool then feel it – if it feels dry, then it’s dried properly.
- When you remove the produce from the dehydrator, let it cool for up to an hour before you store it.
Step Two: if dehydrating fruits and vegetables in an oven
If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can easily dehydrate fresh produce in the oven. Here are the steps to follow.
- Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet. This is important because the rack will promote the process of dehydration and prevent any moisture from accumulating.
- Place the fruits and vegetables on the rack in a single layer. Don’t let them touch or overlap.
- Put your oven on its lowest temperature setting and place the baking sheet on its middle rack.
- Leave the oven a bit open so that air will circulate over the fruits and vegetables.
Tips for dehydrating fruit:
You want to bake the fruit slices at 200 degrees Fahrenheit and stir them every half an hour until the pieces become chewy but dry. You can expect this to take up to six hours.
When you’re happy with how the fruit has dehydrated, turn off the oven and open its door so that the fruit can cool down. After 20 minutes, you want to close the oven door and let the fruit stay inside it for another few hours.
Tips for dehydrating vegetables:
You want to dehydrate the vegetables until they have become brittle and crispy. You should also turn them regularly, such as around every half an hour or so.
When using your oven at about 140 degrees Fahrenheit on its convection setting, the vegetables will take around six hours to become completely dry.
How To Store Dehydrated Fruits And Vegetables
Put the dried fruits and veggies in a loosely-packed jar.
If you’re preserving fruit, you will have to shake the jar once a day for seven days to ensure that any leftover moisture that’s inside the jar is distributed around it.
If you see any condensation start to form on the jar, you should put the produce back into your dehydrator. This is something that tends to only happen with fruits, not veggies.
If you’re happy with how dry the produce is, put it in air-tight containers and store it in a dry, cool, and dark place until you’re ready to eat it.
Extra Tips For Dehydrating Fruits And Vegetables
- Choose fruits and vegetables that are in good condition, instead of choosing produce that’s battered or looks like it’s on the verge of spoiling. This is because dehydrating it will maintain and enhance its current appearance and flavor.
- It’s best to peel your produce before dehydrating it. This is because on some produce, such as pears, the skin will become very hard. It can also prevent moisture from being released by the produce.
- Cut the fruits and veggies into slices. This will enable them to dry out faster than if you leave the produce whole.
- Make sure you keep pieces of the produce in the same shape, size, and thickness so that they will dehydrate evenly.
- The convection setting on your oven, if available, is good to use when dehydrating fruits and vegetables. This is because it mimics the way a dehydrator works by circulating hot air around the oven and therefore decreasing the amount of time they need to become dehydrated.
- You can add ingredients to the slices of produce to enhance their flavors. This particularly works well with fruits or veggies that have mild flavors. For example, you could add paprika to green beans, sea salt to beets, and cinnamon to apples.
How To Use Dehydrated Fruits And Vegetables
When you want to use fruits and veggies that you’ve already dehydrated and stored for months, you need to ensure that you rehydrate them. This is especially important if you want to add them to recipes.
This involves putting fruit in a bowl of hot water and letting it rest for about 15 minutes. Then you can go ahead and use the fruit slices in recipes, such as baked goods.
For vegetables, put them in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them rest for a while. Vegetables could take around an hour to be ready for use.
Some types of vegetables will need to be rehydrated (or refreshed) differently. Veggies like cabbage, kale, tomatoes, and spinach need to be covered with hot water and simmered so that they become tender.
By comparison, root, seed, and stem veggies should be soaked for between 30 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes in cold water.
After they have been soaked, they will also need to be simmered to become tender. This allows extra moisture to evaporate.
When using rehydrated foods, do so immediately. Don’t store them as this can cause bacteria to grow on them, causing them to spoil.
Can you dehydrate canned fruits?
You can dehydrate canned fruit, such as peaches, oranges, and pineapples. You just have to ensure that you drain the fruit properly so that it isn’t full of moisture.
Can you dehydrate avocados?
Because avocados are high in healthy fats, this causes them to spoil very quickly after they’ve been dehydrated. When dehydrated, avos taste bad and have a leathery consistency, so they’re not a good fruit to dehydrate.
If you want to dehydrate fruits and vegetables, you can do this at home whether or not you own a dehydrator.
In this article, we’ve provided you with all the information and tips you need when dehydrating fruits and vegetables so that you have delicious and nutritious snacks on hand.