5 Surprisingly Useful Foods You Should Dehydrate At Home

dehydrated food

While dehydrating may be a less popular food storage method than freezing or canning, that doesn’t mean it’s any less useful! In fact, dehydrated foods offer plenty of unique benefits that frozen and canned foods don’t.

One such benefit is that they are lightweight. This makes dehydrated foods an attractive food source for camping trips, hikes, and other outdoor activities where you wouldn’t want to carry around a bunch of extra weight. They also have a long shelf-life, so stocking up on dehydrated foods can make it easy to throw together a quick meal in the future!

There’s a lot of useful information out there about dehydrating, but unless you’re already experienced at it, all that information can be a bit overwhelming! So today we’ll be exploring 5 foods you can dehydrate at home, along with tips for putting those dried foods to good use.

5 Useful Foods You Should Dehydrate At Home

dehydrated food

1. Potatoes

Why Dehydrate?Dried potato flakes are always handy to have on hand when throwing together a quick meal. You can also add them to your favorite meatloaf or meatball recipe to help bind them together!

dehydrated food

In order to make your own dehydrated potato flakes, you’ll need to start by making mashed potatoes. Peel a medium-sized russet potato or a large white potato and cut it into 4 pieces.

Boil the pieces until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain the potatoes thoroughly. Mash the cooked potatoes until the texture is smooth and free of lumps (and, 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, then place the tray it in the dehydrator. Turn it on high and let the potatoes dehydrate until completely dry. (As a reference point, this took about 24 hours in my dehydrator.)

Remove the dried potatoes from the tray and break them up into small chunks. Place the chunks in your food processor or blender and pulse a few times to break them down into small granules. Store the finished potato flakes in a glass jar.

How To Rehydrate Potatoes

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 the potato flakes, 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.

dehydrated food

2. Bananas

Why Dehydrate?Dried fruits like banana chips make a delicious and healthy snack, and they’re super simple to make yourself!

dehydrated food

Cut a banana into thin slices, then arrange them in a single layer on your dehydrator racks. Turn your dehydrator on low heat and let the banana slices dry for around 7-8 hours, or to your liking. (I like mine when they’re still a little chewy, but you can dry them a bit longer if you like them crunchy.)

Store the dried banana slices in a ziplock bag or airtight container. Add them to your favorite trail mix or granola for a backpacking trip, sprinkle them into your morning oatmeal, or enjoy them as a yummy snack!

Other dehydrated fruits that are really popular are apricots, plums, blueberries, cranberries and raspberries.

dehydrated food

3. Eggs

Why Dehydrate?Powdered eggs can be stored for much longer than fresh eggs, and you can use them in almost any of your favorite cooking and baking recipes.

dehydrated food

If you find yourself with over-abundance of eggs, you can increase their shelf life dramatically by making your own powdered eggs. For full instructions and photos, read my blog post about making powered eggs here.

dehydrated food

4. Jerky

Why Dehydrate?Homemade jerky is so much more affordable than the store-bought stuff, and the results are simply delicious.

dehydrated food

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, then seal the bag and store it in your fridge for 6-24 hours.

After marinating, remove the meat strips from the bag and pat them dry with paper towels. Arrange the strips on your dehydrator racks, turn it on high, and let it run for 8 hours or so until the jerky is flexible, but just starting to crack. Store the finished jerky in an airtight container.

dehydrated food

5. Yogurt

Why Dehydrate?Yogurt powder can added to all kinds of recipes to add creaminess and bright flavor without the added liquid. You can also add it to smoothies for an easy boost of protein!

dehydrated food

To dehydrate yogurt, spread your favorite yogurt out onto your fruit leather or jelly roll tray in an even layer. Place the tray into your dehydrator, turn it on low and let the yogurt dry completely, about 8 hours.

Once dry, break the dried yogurt into chunks, then blend or process them into a fine powder. Store the yogurt powder in an airtight container.

How To Rehydrate Yogurt

If you want to rehydrate your yogurt before using it, simply stir in water a little bit at a time until it reaches the consistency you want.

dehydrated food

[bonus_tips] Bonus Tips For Dehydrating Food At Home

  • You can dehydrate different foods at the same time, but be aware that smells and tastes may transfer between two foods. (For example, you’d want to avoid dehydrating garlic and bananas at the same time, because the taste and smell of garlic would likely leech into the bananas.)
  • Dehydrated foods are best stored in glass jars in a cool, dark location.
  • When slicing fruits or veggies before dehydrating them, slice the pieces evenly to ensure they dry at the same rate.
  • If the fan in your dehydrator is located at one end of the machine, the trays nearest to the fan will dry out first. To promote even drying, rotate the position of the trays every couple of hours.
  • The amount of time it takes to dehydrate something depends on many different factors (like humidity, dehydrator type, food thickness, water content, etc.) Make a habit of checking on your dehydrator once every couple of hours while running it, just in case the food dries faster or slower than expected.
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Do you dehydrate foods at home?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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15 Comments

  1. This is a very useful post. I do not use canning as a food preservation method because I cannot handle the physical demands.

    However, I love to dehydrate food as much as I can. Dehydrated food takes up much less space in my pantry and allows me to reuse any good glass jars and lids. Our dehydrator has paid for itself many times over since I received it as a gift in 2021.

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  2. These all look like great things to try. I am wondering about the bananas: don’t you need to apply some lemon juice before dehydrating? I would think they would turn brown pretty quickly.

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    • I’d also read that banana chips you buy in the store have been fried, not just dehydrated; so I’ve always wondered if making these in a dehydrator would work. But I dip apple slices in diluted lemon juice to keep them from turning brown, so I imagine bananas would benefit from this too.

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  3. I’ve also tried drying greens – kale, chard, spinach – when I have too much and then turning them into a powder to add to smoothies and such. I also tried using the powder in homemade snack bars, to use as “travel food” on the road when access to fresh produce and especially greens is limited (apart from restaurant salads). My first attempt wasn’t that great but it’s something I would try again.

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  4. I dehydrate so much and love to eat the food BUT I tried a load of strawberries and they were not very sweet to begin with so didn’t think it would work well. I ended up with tough very chewy pieces that were like trying to eat hard gum. After failing to convince my grand kids that it was a new kind of gum, I ended up throwing some into a large batch of oatmeal and WONDERFUL results happened! I will now make these as often as possible for oatmeal. I usually make a large batch with dried fruit and brown sugar and lots of cinnamon and put the extra into individual snack bags to refrigerate for all week. I just microwave it and add a little milk. EASY.

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    • I discovered “strawberry powder” last summer when I made strawberry cake to use up an over-abundance of organic strawberries. The recipe I used called for freeze-drying strawberries and then pulverizing them into a powder. A dehydrator apparently doesn’t remove enough water but freeze-drying does. The powder added an intense strawberry flavor (and pink-red color) to the cake and frosting without watering down either. But I do love dried strawberries in oatmeal too.

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  5. I dehydrated an entire head of cauliflower, chunked up into florets. As they dried them turned an ugly brown, and the whole amount fit into a quart Ziploc bag. Surprisingly, when i rehydrated them in boiling water, the brown came out into the water, and the florets were as white as the day I cut them.

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  6. I do dehydrate foods at home. I’ve dehydrated frozen vegetables, bananas, apple chips, and much more. I make Jersey a lot! We all love it.

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  7. I dry fruit when we have too much to eat before it will go bad. Last fall we had an over-abundance of apples from our farm share bags that were too many for just my husband and I to eat, so I made apple chips. I’ve also dried watermelon slices, either to use up extra watermelon or when it just isn’t very sweet. It takes a long time (~18 hours) but 1/4-1/2″ thick slices will dry to a leatherlike consistency that are candy-sweet and keep for a long time without molding.

    Last year I also had the idea of making “supplemented” dog treats as a way to get more supplements into my dog without sprinkling them on her food. Many of them (e.g., curcumin) are temperature-sensitive so baking them (or even drying them in the oven) wouldn’t have worked. I still had to be careful not to add too much “yucky” stuff while getting enough of it into her, but she ate them.

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    • Love your ideas, Terry! I never thought about watermelon. I’ll have to try it.

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  8. Jillie this has nothing to do with this post and I’m sorry but somehow I ave lost the directions you gave yesterday about making a garden spray to keep animals out of my vegetables. Can you please tell me again? Thank you and I look forward to your posts each day.

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  9. I love this post! Dehydrating food is something I have been learning how to do for a little over a year. And now that I have been diagnosed with diabetes, I need portable snacks. Actually, I made apple chips on Saturday. So yummy! I do have a question, though. Due to my disabilities, I have trouble standing to cook; I have home health help me with some of that. They cook and slice my meats for me, so I was wondering if I could use cooked and sliced meats to make jerky.
    I haven’t seen the following on your website, so hope I’m not repeating stuff you already said:
    When you’re using the oven:
    Cookie sheets and parchment paper work well together for dehydrating
    Set ovens to lowest temperature possible, around 170°
    Be sure to check directions/links around the web, since different fruits dry at different temperatures
    Leave the oven door slightly open during dehydration so moisture can escape. To do this, you can wedge a wooden spoon at the top of the oven door to keep it open a couple of inches
    Hope this helps!

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    • Bethany, I have used sliced turkey from the deli to make jerky. I marinated it in teriyaki sauce and then dehydrated. Yum.

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