We tend to get a little obsessed with our kitchen gadgets here at OGT. One of the gadgets we’re currently using a lot is our dehydrator! Before we bought it a couple of years ago, the only food storage methods I really used were freezing and canning. While dehydrating may be a less popular method, that doesn’t mean it’s any less useful. In fact, I would argue that in certain scenarios, dehydrating can be more useful than either freezing or canning!
One of the main benefits of dehydrated foods is that they are lightweight. This makes them perfect to take along on camping trips, hikes, and other outdoor activities where you wouldn’t want any extra weight. Another benefit of dehydrated foods is their long shelf life. Stocking up on dehydrated foods will make it easier to throw together an easy meal in the future!
You can dehydrate all kinds of foods, but if you’re just learning about dehydrating, all that information can be overwhelming. So today I thought I’d share a list of 5 of my favorite foods to dehydrate, and instructions on how you can dry them at home. I’ve also thrown in a few general tips that I think might be helpful. Consider this post as your introductory course in home dehydrating. :-)
5 Of The Best Foods To Dehydrate
Why Dehydrate? – Dried potato flakes are handy to have on hand when you need to throw together a quick meal. You can also add them to meatloaf or meatballs as a binding ingredient!
To make your own dehydrated potato flakes, you’ll start by making mashed potatoes. Peel a medium-sized russet potato or a large white potato, then cut it into 4 pieces. Boil the potato pieces until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes thoroughly, then mash them until the texture is smooth and free of lumps. (Don’t add anything either – you just want smooth, plain mashed potatoes.)
Spread the mashed potatoes onto your dehydrator’s fruit leather or jelly roll tray, and place it in the dehydrator. Turn it on high and let the potatoes dehydrate until completely dry. (This took about 24 hours in my dehydrator.) Remove the dried potatoes from the tray and break it down into smaller chunks. Place the chunks in your food processor or blender and pulse a few times, until all the potatoes are broken down into small granules. Store in a glass jar.
To rehydrate your potatoes, bring 1 cup of water or milk, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a boil on your stovetop. Add 1/2 cup of your potato granules, stir, cover, and remove from heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then whip the potatoes with a whisk. Add additional milk and/or butter if desired and serve.
Why Dehydrate? – Banana chips are a tasty and healthy snack, and they’re super simple to make at home!
Start by cutting a banana into thin slices, then arrange them on your dehydrator racks. Turn your dehydrator on low heat, and let the banana sliced dry for around 7-8 hours, or until they are dried to your liking. (I like them to be a little bendy/chewy, but you might prefer them to be more crunchy.)
Store your banana chips in a ziplock bag or airtight container. Add them to your favorite trail mix, rehydrate them in your morning oatmeal, or enjoy them as a snack on their own!
Why Dehydrate? – Powdered eggs are easy to rehydrate, and can be used in your favorite cooking and baking recipes.
If you find yourself with over-abundance of eggs, you can increase their shelf life dramatically by making your own powdered eggs. Follow the link below for full instructions.
Related: How To Make Your Own Powdered Eggs
Why Dehydrate? – Homemade jerky is so much more affordable than the store-bought stuff, and the results are simply delicious.
To make your own jerky, you’ll need a lean cut of beef. (Lean cuts include flank steak, eye of round, top round, sirloin tip, and more.) Trim off any excess fat from the outside of the cut, then place it in your freezer for 1-2 hours. (This step just helps make the beef easier to cut!)
Remove the beef from your freezer, then slice it against the grain into 1/4″ thick slices. Place the slices into a container or ziplock bag, and pour your favorite marinade over the top. (We used a store-bought sweet chili marinade that was surprisingly tasty!) Let the meat marinate in your fridge for 6-24 hours.
Remove the meat strips from the marinade and dry them off a bit with some paper towels. Arrange the strips on your dehydrator racks and turn it on high. Let it run for 8 hours or so, until the jerky is flexible, but just starting to crack. Store in an airtight container.
Why Dehydrate? – Yogurt powder can be used in all kinds of recipes to add creaminess and tang without adding liquid. You can also add it to smoothies for an easy protein boost!
To dry yogurt, start by spreading your favorite yogurt onto your fruit leather or jelly roll tray. Place the tray into your dehydrator, and turn it on low. Let it dry completely for about 8 hours.
Break the dried yogurt down into chunks, then blend or process them down into a fine powder. Store the yogurt powder in an airtight container. To rehydrate, simply add water a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
Good-To-Know Tips For Dehydrating
- You can dehydrate different foods at the same time, but be mindful of keeping certain foods separate. (For instance, you wouldn’t want to dehydrate garlic and bananas at the same time, because the garlic taste and smell would leech into the bananas.)
- Store your dehydrated foods in glass jars (or at least an airtight container) and place them in a cool, dark spot.
- If you’re slicing fruits or veggies before dehydrating them, make sure to cut your slices evenly so they dry at the same rate.
- If the dehydrator in your fan is at the bottom or the top of the machine, whichever trays are nearest to the fan will dry out first. To dry things more evenly, you’ll want to rotate the position of the dehydrator trays every so often while it’s running.
- It’s hard to say how long something will take to dry, because there are so many different factors involved (like humidity, dehydrator type, the thickness of the food, the water content of the food, etc.) Just make it a habit to check on your dehydrator once every couple of hours, in case it dries faster or slower than you expected.
- If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven in most cases! Follow the link below for more details.
Related: How To Dry Fresh Herbs In Your Oven