How to Dehydrate Fruits and Vegetables

Keep your pantry well-stocked with a variety of dried produce.

| September/October 2020

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Whether you nurture a suburban backyard garden, two potted tomato plants, or acres of produce, this year you may depend on your harvest not only for fresh vegetables, but also for variety. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our food supply, from processing plant closures to distribution interruptions.

Luckily, those of us who grow and preserve our own fruits and vegetables are prepared. We turn berries and peaches into jars of jam, and freeze peas and corn for future use. We turn tomatoes into sauce, and fill the root cellar with carrots and squash. And let’s not forget turning piles of cucumbers, zucchini, and asparagus into tangy pickles. But we tend to practice dehydration — one of the oldest methods of food preservation — the least. Which is a shame, because dehydrating fruits and vegetables is easy.

All produce can be safely dehydrated, but some fruits and vegetables are better suited to the process than others. For example, dehydrating water-rich cucumbers or watermelon is a lesson in frustration; the process is long, and the result isn’t very useful. Dehydrating corn, onions, and berries, though, provides a burst of concentrated flavor.



The easiest way to dehydrate fruits and vegetables is in the sun. We still use this age-old method occasionally, but the produce often comes out pale and insipid. Plus, if you live in a humid climate, fruit may spoil before it completely dries out.

Produce can also be dried in an oven, if the oven can be reduced to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, 170 degrees is the lowest most ovens will go. Foods dried at 170 degrees don’t retain much flavor.



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