Discover What Foods Can Be Dehydrated for Delicious Snacks and Meals

What foods can be dehydrated? Our guide answers this question with a clear and straightforward rundown of fruits, vegetables, meats, and more that are perfect for dehydration. Whether you’re a seasoned food preserver or new to the world of dehydrating, discover the range of items you can transform into shelf-stable, nutrient-rich foods.

Key Takeaways

  • Dehydrating foods like fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains is a great way to preserve them, offering tasty, nutritious options for snacks and meals.

  • Not all foods are suitable for dehydration – avoid those high in fat or oil and be aware that some foods may have altered taste or pose health risks after dehydration.

  • Proper storage in airtight containers, away from heat and light, can extend the shelf life of dehydrated foods for months to years, with rehydration bringing them back to life for consumption.

Dehydrating Fruits: A Healthy Snack Alternative

Variety of dehydrated fruits in a bowl

Imagine biting into a juicy apple or savoring a sweet strawberry, anytime you want, irrespective of the season. Dehydrated fruits make this possible! Dehydrating fruits locks in their sweet, concentrated flavors, making them a delicious snack alternative. It’s also an excellent way to preserve the nutritional value of fruits, especially when they’re in season and abundantly available.

Some fruits that are particularly well-suited to the dehydration process include:

  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Strawberries

  • Kiwi

  • Cantaloupe

When dehydrated at their peak ripeness, these dried fruit retain their sweetness and provide a satisfyingly chewy texture, a far cry from the store-bought dried fruits that often contain added sugars.

Preparing Fruits for Dehydration

To turn fruits into deliciously dehydrated snacks, careful preparation is crucial and simple to achieve optimal results. Start by selecting high-quality, ripe fruits. Wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt or residue.

Next, cut the fruit into consistent slices, around 5mm to 10mm thick. This uniformity ensures that all the pieces dry at the same rate. The way you cut the fruit will depend on its type. For example, small berries can be halved, while fruits with high water content, like melons, should be sliced thicker. Citrus fruits can be sliced into even rounds. Depending on your personal preference and the type of fruit, you can choose whether to peel it or not. For instance, apples and pears can be dehydrated with their peel, while peaches may be blanched to easily remove their skins before slicing.

Fruit Drying Times and Temperatures

With the fruits ready, the next phase involves drying. The recommended temperature for drying most fruits is between 125°F and 140°F. This range helps retain the nutrients in the fruits and prevents over-drying. However, the drying times can vary based on factors like the juiciness of the fruit, its ripeness, and how it’s prepared.

Cantaloupe, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, kiwi, lemon slices, and orange slices all have a suggested dehydrating temperature of 125°F. But their drying times differ. For instance, strawberries require 8 to 18 hours, while kiwi slices need 10-12 hours. To check if the fruit is properly dehydrated, it should be flexible and leathery, without any moisture beads. If it’s sticky or brittle, it’s not done yet.

Dehydrating Vegetables: Nutritious and Flavorful

Assorted dehydrated vegetables on a tray

Vegetable dehydration offers a fantastic method to fill up your pantry with nutritious and tasty ingredients. Just like fruits, vegetables can be transformed into lightweight, easy-to-store, and long-lasting foods through the dehydration process. Plus, you can enjoy your favorite vegetables out of season or make the most of a bumper harvest.

A variety of vegetables can be dehydrated, including:

Even low-carb vegetables like zucchini and cucumber can be turned into healthy chips. Bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions are great for dehydration without any need for precooking.

Dehydrated vegetables can enhance your dehydrated meals, provide a quick snack, or serve as a key ingredient in homemade backpacking meals.

Preparing Vegetables for Dehydration

The process of preparing vegetables for dehydration includes the following steps:

  1. Select fresh, ripe produce.

  2. Clean the vegetables thoroughly and pat them dry.

  3. Cut the vegetables into thin, even slices, about 1/8 inch thick, to ensure they all dry at the same rate.

  4. If your vegetables are leafy greens like kale or spinach, remember to remove the tough stems before dehydrating.

One crucial step in preparing vegetables for dehydration is blanching. This process involves briefly boiling the vegetables and then plunging them into ice water. Blanching helps to destroy enzymes that can lead to spoilage, keeps the vegetables’ vibrant colors and flavors, and can result in brighter colors that last throughout storage.

Vegetable Drying Times and Temperatures

When it comes to drying vegetables, most should be dehydrated at a temperature of 125°F until they become crisp or hard. However, the drying times can vary, generally ranging from 4 to 12 hours depending on the type of vegetable.

For instance, sauerkraut takes about four to six hours to become crispy at 125°F, while green beans require approximately eight hours to become hard at the same temperature. Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are best dehydrated at 135°F for about 2-3 hours to achieve crispiness.

On the other hand, frozen vegetables such as mixed vegetables, corn, peas, broccoli, green beans, and okra are dehydrated at 125°F for six to eight hours.

Dehydrating Meat and Seafood: Protein-Packed Options

Dehydration isn’t confined to fruits and vegetables; it’s also an excellent method to preserve and enrich the flavors of meats and seafood. Using a food dehydrator for food dehydrating, especially for meat and seafood, provides protein-packed options for meals and snacks, particularly for those who are on-the-go or need lightweight foods for outdoor adventures.

Fresh, lean meat and low-fat fish are the best choices for dehydration. Before dehydration, these meats should be cooked to the appropriate temperature and have all visible fat trimmed off. This step is crucial in ensuring a delicious outcome and avoiding spoilage.

Cooking and Preparing Meat for Dehydration

Before dehydrating meat, it should be safely cooked to at least 160°F for beef and 165°F for poultry. This step is vital to prevent foodborne illnesses. Once cooked, the meat should be sliced into consistent thicknesses, between 1/8” and 1/4”. Freezing the meat for 30-60 minutes beforehand can aid in slicing uniformly.

Ground meat should be mixed with breadcrumbs or oats, cooked, and spread evenly on dehydrator trays. When it comes to making ground beef jerky, lean meats are preferred. If you’re preparing fish, it should be cleaned, gutted, filleted, and cut into slices. Then, you can use specific methods like sun-drying or smoking for dehydration.

Meat and Seafood Drying Times and Temperatures

All types of meat should be dried at a temperature of 145°F. The drying times can vary. For example, beef jerky is recommended to be dehydrated at 165°F and typically requires 3 to 6 hours to dry, depending on several factors. Ground beef and turkey should be dehydrated at 145°F for 6-12 hours.

Fish should be dehydrated at 145°F for around 10 hours. Dehydrating precooked salad shrimp is done at 160°F for approximately 10 to 12 hours. Properly dehydrated shrimp become hard little nuggets. However, keep in mind that the process may emit a strong smell, so you might want to use a well-ventilated area or outdoor drying.

Dehydrating Grains, Legumes, and Pasta

Dehydrated grains and legumes in glass jars

Aside from fruits, vegetables, and meats, dehydration can also encompass grains, legumes, and pasta. These options offer benefits such as a reduction in weight and packaging volume, which is ideal for backpackers and campers. They maintain their nutritional value while being convenient for situations with limited water access.

Grains such as rice and quinoa, along with pasta and beans, are suitable for dehydration. However, dehydrating grains can be challenging due to their high starch content and complex structure, which requires careful processing to ensure successful drying.

Dehydrating Cooked Grains and Legumes

Before you can dehydrate grains and legumes, they need to be cooked first. Then, they are dried until they reach a hard, crunchy state. To achieve the best rehydration results with rice and grains, cook them in water or non-fat broth and ensure they are slightly underdone before dehydrating.

Beans, on the other hand, must be fully cooked before dehydrating. This step allows them to be rehydrated and ready to eat in a shorter timeframe. Both canned beans and lentils, as well as home pressure-cooked beans, are effective for dehydrating and rehydrating.

Dehydrating Pasta

Pasta can be cooked normally before being evenly spread on dehydrator trays to dry until brittle. Small to medium-sized pasta shapes are preferable for dehydrating and subsequent storage compared to long or thick pasta.

Dehydrating pasta should be done at 135°F until the pasta snaps when bent, which typically requires 6-12 hours of drying time. Once dehydrated, pasta can be used in various ways:

  • As an ingredient in prepared meals in a jar

  • Useful as emergency meals

  • For outdoor activities like camping and hiking

  • Can be gifted as a unique homemade item.

Dehydrating Herbs and Spices

Assortment of dehydrated herbs and spices

The dehydration of herbs and spices can revolutionize your kitchen experience. It allows you to have fresh flavors at your fingertips, regardless of the season. Plus, dehydrated herbs and spices can be used to add a concentrated source of flavor and nutrition to various recipes.

Air drying is a method used in the drying process to dehydrate delicate greens and herbs, which helps to preserve their flavor and aroma. From dehydrated products, you can create fruit powders, vegetable powders, and seasonings that enhance the taste of multiple dishes.

Preparing Herbs and Spices for Dehydration

To prepare herbs and spices for dehydration, begin by using clean utensils and thoroughly washed hands to inspect the herbs and spices. Remove any insects, debris, or damaged parts. Rinse the herbs in cool water, shake off excess moisture, and then use a salad spinner or pat them dry with paper towels to eliminate as much water as possible.

To dry herbs using a dehydrator, follow these steps:

  1. Arrange the cleaned herbs in a single layer on the dehydrator trays.

  2. For small cuttings and seeds, place them on silicone mats on the racks, spacing them equally apart without overlapping.

  3. Pre-heat the dehydrator to 95°F to 115°F, or up to 125°F in high humidity conditions, to prepare it for drying herbs and spices efficiently.

Herb and Spice Drying Times and Temperatures

The recommended temperature for drying herbs is between 95 and 110°F. They are considered dry when they crumble easily, and stems break when bent. For less tender herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and winter savory, you can air-dry them by tying them into small bundles and hanging them in a dry area with good air circulation.

Specific dried herbs and spices require various dehydration times and temperatures:

  • Garlic: 8-12 hours at 130 ºF

  • Ginger: 3-4 hours at 130 ºF

  • Onion: 3-8 hours at 135 ºF

  • Shallots: 3-4 hours at 135 ºF

  • Turmeric: 5-7 hours at 135 ºF

Foods to Avoid When Dehydrating

However, not every food is appropriate for dehydration. Foods that are high in fat or oil, such as peanut butter or avocados, do not dehydrate well and can become rancid, compromising their safety and taste.

Some foods that can be dehydrated include:

  • Olives (for short-term consumption)

  • Nonfat dairy products (although not recommended due to a higher risk of foodborne illness)

  • Cheese (except for soft cheeses, which should not be dehydrated due to their high-fat content and potential for bacterial issues)

Certain condiments that are high in sugar or contain hidden oils and fats are also not recommended for dehydrating.

Storing Dehydrated Food Properly

The preservation of freshness and prevention of spoilage in dehydrated foods hinges on proper storage, which is a crucial aspect of food preservation. Several factors can affect the shelf life of dehydrated foods, including:

  • Temperature

  • Moisture

  • Oxygen

  • Light

Desiccant packets are essential in removing moisture, which helps prevent spoilage. Similarly, oxygen absorber packets play a critical role in removing oxygen, reducing the risk of spoilage.

Packaging Options for Dehydrated Food

There are a variety of packaging options available to store dehydrated food. Airtight containers such as glass jars with tight-fitting lids, hard plastic containers with airtight seals, and vacuum-sealed bags are all good choices for storing dehydrated foods.

For larger volumes of dehydrated foods, you can use food-grade plastic buckets with gamma seals. Alternatively, aluminum cans with sealed lids can serve as an alternative long-term storage solution, offering protection against pests and light, though they may be less convenient for frequent access.

Shelf Life of Dehydrated Food

When stored correctly, dehydrated food can last for a significant period. Most home dehydrated foods can last for months or even up to a year if prepared and stored correctly. Dehydrated grains such as rice, wheat, and oats can last for years if kept in a cool, dark, and dry environment.

Dehydrated foods can last for varying lengths of time, depending on the type of food and how it is stored. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Dehydrated fruits and vegetables can last for about a year, with fruits generally having a slightly longer shelf life.

  • If meat is stored properly in the freezer, it can remain safe to eat for up to a year. Proper storage helps to maintain the quality and freshness of the meat for a longer period.

  • Even dehydrated herbs can retain quality for 1 to 2 years if stored away from light and heat.

Rehydrating Dehydrated Food

The rehydration of dehydrated food entails replenishing the water quantity extracted during the dehydration process. This step is crucial as it revives the food, making it ready for consumption or cooking.

Dehydrated foods can be rehydrated through different techniques such as soaking in boiling water, allowing it to sit for varying times, or simmering in soups or stews. To dehydrate food, various methods can be employed, such as using a food dehydrator or oven drying. For those who are hiking or camping, pre-soaking dehydrated food in a tightly sealed container can save fuel by rehydrating the food over time. Dehydrating food is a popular method for preserving and extending the shelf life of various ingredients.

Rehydration Ratios and Times

The ratios and times for rehydrating dehydrated foods can vary depending on the type of food. For instance, one cup of fresh fruit or vegetable typically equates to 1/3 to 1/4 cup dried or 1 tablespoon of powdered. Pasta follows a 1:1 water-to-pasta rehydration ratio.

The rehydration process for larger, denser food pieces requires more water and time compared to smaller, less dense pieces. It’s important to add enough water to submerge the food, plus a bit extra. Any unused water can be incorporated into cooking.

Creative Recipes Using Dehydrated Food

What culinary delights can we create with all this dehydrated food? There are countless ways to incorporate dehydrated ingredients into your meals. Here are a few ideas:

  • Adding a zesty kick to your meals with dehydrated sauerkraut

  • Sweetening your granola recipes with dehydrated apricots

  • Enhancing the flavor of soups and stews with dehydrated vegetables

  • Creating flavorful marinades with dehydrated herbs and spices

  • Making homemade trail mix with dehydrated fruits and nuts

The possibilities are endless!

You can also enhance your rice and noodle dishes with dehydrated vegetables for added nutrition, wrap bacon around cream cheese-stuffed figs for a sweet and salty snack, or create savory meals like North African Chicken and Rice with dried food such as fruits and fruit leather.

Salads get a fresh twist with dehydrated beets in an Orange & Beet Salad or with dried fruits in a Curried Chicken & Peach Salad, offering a delicious way to enjoy fresh food.


From fruits and vegetables to meats and grains, dehydrating foods opens up a world of convenience and nutrition. Whether you’re a backpacker needing lightweight meals, a busy parent looking for quick, nutritious snack options, or someone wanting to make the most of a bumper harvest, dehydrating is a versatile and beneficial skill. So why not give it a try? With the right preparation, drying times, and storage techniques, you can create a pantry full of delicious, long-lasting meals and snacks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best foods to dehydrate?

The best foods to dehydrate are fruits like apples, pears, and strawberries, as well as vegetables such as carrots, corn, and green beans. You can also dehydrate bananas, mangoes, pineapples, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and zucchini for tasty snacks and ingredients in recipes.

What can you put in a food dehydrator?

You can put in a variety of foods in a food dehydrator, including dehydrated meals, meat, vegetables, fruit, and even pet treats. The possibilities are endless!

How long do dehydrated foods last?

Dehydrated foods can last from 4 months to 1 year when stored in cool, dry, and dark areas. The storage temperature affects the length of storage, with higher temperatures decreasing the shelf life.

Can you dehydrate any food?

Yes, you can dehydrate many fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, and meats, but high-fat or oily foods don’t dehydrate well and dairy products are not suitable for dehydration.

What is the best temperature for dehydrating fruits?

The best temperature for dehydrating fruits is between 125°F and 140°F. Happy drying!

author avatar
Hey there, since 2016, my mission has been to provide you with the information and guides you need to make food dehydrating simple and fun. Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned pro, my site offers helpful guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your dehydrating experience. I take pride in only recommending products I believe in, ensuring my readers' trust. As an affiliate of various programs, including Amazon Associates, your support helps me continue providing quality content. Thanks for stopping by, and happy dehydrating!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *