Monday, February 1, 2010


Recently I have been on a dehydrating kick. This is a wonderful thing to do especially in the winter time when it is cold outside and you aren't harvesting other things. I found a AWESOME website on how to dehydrate almost anything!!!!!!!!!!!!I will be sharing many of these things with you. Also many of her tips.
If you want to check out her site she has lots of how to videos that are great!

Foods You Just Throw on the Dehydrator

Collard Greens
Mushrooms (If wet or soaked in water before dehydrating mushrooms will turn dark in color. They are OK to eat this way)
All herbs

Fruit Roll-ups


Never use sugar in fruit rollups, the sugar will crystallize over time. Instead use honey or corn syrup.

When using zip bags to dry your fruit rollups make sure any print on the bag is facing away from the rollup. Otherwise, it will pull the print up when the rollup when removed.

I like to use duct tape when taping down the zip bag because it does not fall off in the dehydrator and it is easy to remove from the trays.

Shrink wrap makes a great package for the rollups when sealed using your sealer.

Also, the wax inserts in cereal boxes make a great package for fruit rollups.

Cooking the fruit in a sauce pan before dehydrating makes a translucent roll-up whereas uncooked makes a more firm and solid color roll-up.


Fruit Skins

When peeling your oranges, mangos, papayas, apples, peaches, pears, and lemons place the skins on the tray with the skin side facing DOWN and dehydrate. After dehydrating most skins can be ground and put in homemade herbal teas, sauces, cookies, cakes, and breads.

Glass Jars

I use my glass jars for short term storage. When they become empty I refill them with my items that have been vacuum packed, Mylar bagged, or oxygen packed. Don’t get me wrong , your food will last for a year and longer in the jars, but the issue is the light breaking down the food. If you place your jars in a dark area then your food will last virtually forever, so your biggest concern is light exposure over a long period of time. Years ago jar companies made a blue jar for canning to detour light. You can still find the blue jars (I have some) if you go to attic or garage sales. Three years ago you couldn’t even give them away (as with clear Masson/ Ball jars) but today you have to fight to get them. I would not recommend these old jars for canning due to safety reasons, but they are great for long term storage of dried foods.

How Long Can You Store Dehydrated Foods?

When stored properly and kept in a cool dry place your foods can last up to 30 years depending on the item.
I would recommend going to and clicking on their dehydrated shelf life chart.

Lemon Juice

Whenever food is processed in any way nutrients are lost. For this reason it is important that you spray lemon juice on your carrots, apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, papaya or any low acid item before dehydrating in order to add extra vitamin C. This process will also help to retain the natural beautiful colors of your fruits and vegetables.

I spray lemon juice directly on the items instead of soaking them in a bowl. If you soak your bananas in the juice they will become soggy. Also, soaking food takes away important vitamins and minerals. If you put honey in the lemon juice, like some people suggest, I find that the bananas become sticky and soggy and after dehydrating they will stick together, which is not good. Also, when soaking in lemon juice there is a lot of waste when you toss the leftover juice down the sink. Spraying or misting with concentrated lemon juice is the best technique.

Things you do not want to spray with your lemon juice are green leafy produce like spinach or broccoli because it will brown or burn the items.

Pineapple juice is also a possible vitamin C rich liquid you may spray onto your foods before dehydrating. However, I recommend concentrated lemon juice because pineapple juice tends to make your dehydrated items more on the sticky side due to the excess sugars.

Foods that should be sprayed with concentrated lemon/pineapple juice:
(All your low acid fruits. This maintains color and adds a little extra vitamin C)



Let's Talk About Drying Time

It is very difficult to give an exact time frame for dehydrating foods because of all the variables. Humidity outside and in the home, thickness and type of cut, how loaded the trays are, and even different brands of produce play a big part in dehydration time. Also the type of dehydrator you use plays a large role. If the fan is on the top or bottom of your dehydrator it will take longer for the food to dry because the circulation of air flow is disrupted by the other trays. If the fan is in the back of the dehydrator (where it should be) your food will dry faster and more evenly.

What I can tell you is this:
You never want to increase the temperature to dry faster this will cause “case hardening”. This is when the outside of the food hardens and moisture is trapped on the inside and is unable to dry because it is incased in a hard shell. This will cause your food to sour and have to be tossed. Your best bet is long time and low temp. Never try to speed things up by increasing the temp in order to finish at a certain time. Regardless if I am doing a fruit or vegetable I never go over 125°F.

An average drying time list
8-15 hours All fresh vegetables including peppers
8-10 hours Frozen vegetables (remember to place on the tray while frozen )
8-10 hours Mushrooms and onions (sliced and chopped)
12-15 hours Sweet and white potatoes (thin sliced, chopped)
8-10 hours Fruits, very thinly sliced
12-15 hours Fruits ¼ inch slice
15 hours plus Fruit rollups (depending on how much corn syrup and honey used)
15-20 hours Grapes
18-20 hours Blueberries
Up to 2 days Whole prunes (remove pits)
12-15 hours Peaches, plums, pears, apples, nectarines, rhubarb

The most important part is not so much the length of time in the dehydrator, but the percentage of remaining moisture left. For long term storage you want to stay at 95% and above. Testing for dryness will be your best barometer. Your food should easily snap and should not be sticking together.

After, dehydrating your food place it in a zip-lock bag for a few days before storing away in your vacuum bags. This will give you a chance to see that your food has fully dehydrated. If your food appears limp you can put it back in the dehydrator again for a few more hours.

Some Basics Before You Start

Wash everything down with an anti-bacterial cleanser of your choice. Just like when canning foods, it is important to practice good hygiene while dehydrating as well. This ensures a good end product with a longer shelf life.

Wear latex or vinyl gloves!

There are natural oils and moistures in your hands which will contaminate your foods by reintroducing moisture. The whole idea to dehydrating foods is to maintain a good quality food with a long shelf life. Wearing protective gloves helps you obtain these goals.

Warm up your dehydrator

Air circulation helps eliminate the growth of contaminates, therefore it is best to start the dehydrator and get the air moving before putting your food in.

TIP: It is so much easier to cut your dehydrated foods with kitchen scissors instead of using a knife. Some of the dehydrated foods you can simply crumble in your hands.

The Cannery

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) has canneries that you can go to and purchase Mylar bags and oxygen packs for very little money. You can also purchase wheat, oats, corn meal, beans and other dried foods and have it placed in #10 cans. The LDS members are very kind, willing to help, and very knowledgeable in food storage. You do not have to be a member to go to some of the canneries; however the canneries are non-profit and therefore run through tithing in the church. For this reason some locations require that you be a member to purchase from them. I recommend you call your local cannery and ask their policy prior to visiting. By going there you can build your pantry fast and for very little money. The Cannery is a smart tool in helping you build your pantry so please take advantage of it. If you are interested e-mail me the town or city you live in and I will try to find one in your area.

Tomato Paste and Tomato Sauce Roll-Ups

There several ways you can do tomato paste.

1) You can puree tomatoes that have been canned
2) You can use whole tomatoes and scald off the skin then puree
3) You can puree whole tomatoes with the skins on
4) You can pre-cook your puree as you would with fruit roll-ups or do it raw

A trick you can use to help remove water from the tomatoes is to put them in a clear gravy separator and place them in the refrigerator over night. The next day pour off the water that separated from the tomatoes. Your paste is now thicker and easier to make into a roll-up.

Tricky Fruit Tips

Place the blueberries in a pot of boiling water for about one minute. The information I received over the years said to place them on a paper towel and then on the dehydrator tray. Lately, I have been placing my dehydrator tray across the sink like a strainer and pouring the blanched blueberries over the top of the tray. The less you have to move them around the better. I found this makes a big difference and the berries don’t mush. I suggest adding cold water to the pot before pouring it over the dehydrator tray. After placing them on the tray I prick them one by one with a toothpick to let the air out. My Blueberries are done in about 18 hours. If you remove the tray and some blueberries are still large and soft or can be easily mashed in your fingers they are not fully dehydrated. Puncture another hole in them and place in the dehydrator longer.

Always use a stainless steel knife when cutting your bananas, if you use a regular knife the finished product may be brown in color (These are still fine to eat, just aren‘t and appealing). Use concentrated lemon and lightly spray the bananas as soon as they are cut. Handle your fruit as little as possible. Test the banana to see if it is done by removing one slice and letting it cool for 5-10 minutes. The slice should be crisp and not sticky. Place them into a zip-lock bag for 2-3 days before packing. After a day, shake the plastic bag; if they are sticking together place them back in the dehydrator for 3 more hours. If the bananas are over ripe to begin with they may be on the chewy side after dehydrating. If the banana is somewhat green to begin it may turn a little pink in color after dehydrating, not to worry they are still good to eat. I have never had my sliced bananas encounter case hardening when the temp. was higher. Even so, I still keep my temp. at 125°F.

Try to keep your raspberries as dry as possible. Rinse, but do not soak, in water prior to dehydrating and wash minutes before dehydrating.

Papayas and Pineapple
Papayas and pineapple
should both be steams prior to dehydrating if you are going to use them un Jell-O. Also I believe pineapple is better if steamed prior to dehydrating if you plan to use it in an upside down cake, breads, cookies, smoothies and so on. The only time I do not steam my pineapple before dehydrating is when I plan to grind it up in powdered form for teas and sauces. You can eat steamed or unsteamed dehydrated pineapple and papaya for a great on-the-go snack.

When To Salt

Remember to add salt AFTER everything is cooked. Salt slows down the re-hydrating process.

Where NOT To Store Your Food

You should never store your food on a concrete floor. Place it on a skid or elevate it off the floor so it is not directly on the concrete. Never place your stored food where the sun is beating down on it, by a furnace, or anywhere really hot.


Winter is great because the furnace is always going and it’s dry in your house. The down side is your garden is 3 feet under snow. The upside to winter is you can load up an all the produce that grocery stores put on sale to lure you in. How many people can load up on 10 lbs of carrots, bananas, etc.?
YOU CAN, because YOU have a dehydrator!

Your Enemies in Long-Term Storage

Water / moisture
Rodents and bugs

Blanching and Skin Scalding (which foods?)

Blanching is when you place your food in boiling water for about one minute prior to dehydrating.

Why do you have to steam or blanch some items and not others?
Skin scalding occurs during the blanching process. Skin scalding is done to either soften the skin of a fruit or vegetable you want to dehydrate, or to soften the skin to allow for its removal. While blanching a grape, for example, you must blanch it prior to dehydrating in order to ‘skin scald’ or soften the skin. While blanching a tomato or peach, however, you will find the skins fall right off. By doing this it is possible to dehydrate your food without any unwanted skin or peach fuzz.

Food that should be blanched or skin scalded

Summer Squash


  1. question have you come across dehydrating eggs?

  2. Have you dehydrated cheese? Is it better to buy it already done?