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Food Dehydration - Step 2 - Drying

Food Dehydration - Step 2 - Drying

Dry your own fruits, vegetables and other foods

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During Drying

  • Spread the foods on the trays
    Fruits contain sugar and are sticky, but if you spray (lightly!) the drying trays with nonstick cooking spray before putting the fruit on the trays it will greatly reduce the fruit sticking to the trays.
    Put the fruit or vegetable slices in a single layer on the drying trays. The pieces should not touch or overlap
    After the fruit dries for one to two hours, lift each piece gently with a spatula and turn.
  • Maintain 130F to 140F with circulating air:
    Remove enough moisture as quickly as possible to prevent spoilage. A drying temperature of 130 degrees F to 140 degrees F allows moisture to be removed quickly without adversely affecting food's texture, color, flavor and nutritive value. If the initial temperature is lower, or air circulation is insufficient, foods may undergo undesirable microbiological changes before drying adequately. If the temperature is higher, or humidity too low, nutrients can be lost or moisture may be removed too quickly from the product's outer surface. This causes the outer surface to harden and prevents moisture in the inner tissues from escaping. When testing for sufficient dryness, cool foods before testing.
  • Tips if you are using an oven
    • Check the settings to see if your oven can be set as low as 140°F. Look for a "warm" setting button. If your oven does not go this low, then your food will cook instead of dry.
      Use a thermometer to check the temperature at the "warm" setting.
    • If your oven is not a Convection oven (with a built-in fan), leave the oven door propped open two to six inches for air circulation. Circulation can also be improved by placing a fan outside the oven near the door.
      CAUTION: This is not a safe practice for a home with small children.
    • Keep in mind, because the door is left open, the temperature will vary.  You will need to put an oven thermometer near the food and check it frequently to adjust the temperature dial to achieve the needed 140°F.
    • The food's drying trays should be narrow enough to clear the sides of the oven and should be 3 to 4 inches shorter than the oven from front to back. Cake cooling racks placed on top of cookie sheets work well for some foods.
    • The oven racks, holding the trays, should be two to three inches apart for air circulation.
  • Know when your food is dry: Some foods are more pliable when cool than warm. Foods should be pliable and leathery, or hard and brittle when sufficiently dried. Some vegetables actually shatter if hit with a hammer. At this stage, they should contain about 10 percent moisture. Because they are so dry, vegetables do not need conditioning like fruits. Drying times are shorter for slices and other cuts of fruit than whole fruit.
    Fruit Typical drying time in hours
    Apples 6 to 12
    Apricot 24 to 36
    Bananas 8 to 10
    Blueberries, cranberries, currants, gooseberries, huckleberries 24 to 36
    Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, Tayberries, loganberries, boysenberries, Marionberries 24 to 36
    Cherries 8 to 12
    Figs 6 to 12
    Grapes (seedless) 12 to 20
    Grapes (with seeds) 12 to 20
    Peaches and Nectarines 36 to 48
    Pears 24 to 36
    Persimmons 12 to 15
    Pineapple 24 to 26
    Plums and prunes 24 to 36
    Vegetables Dehydrator approximate drying time
    Beans, green 8 to 14 hours
    Beets 10 to 12 hours
    Broccoli 12 to 15 hours
    Cabbage 10 to 12 hours
    Carrots 10 to 12 hours
    Cauliflower 12 to 15 hours
    Celery 10 to 16 hours
    Corn, cut 6 to 8 hours
    Eggplant 12 to 14 hours
    Horseradish 6 to 8 hours
    Mushrooms (obviously, stick to known edible varieties only!) 8 to 10 hours
    Okra 8 to 10 hours
    Onions 3 to 9 hours
    Parsley 1 to 2 hours
    Peas 8 to 10 hours
    Peppers and pimientos 8 to 12 hours
    Potatoes 8 to 12 hours
    Spinach and other greens (kale, chard, mustard) 8 to 10 hours
    Hubbard squash 10 to 16 hours
    Summer squash 10 to 12 hours
    Tomatoes, for stewing 10 to 18 hours
    Tomatoes, sliced 6 to 12 hours

 

*Drying times depend on initial moisture content of the product and the particular dehydrator being used. Drying times in a conventional oven could be up to twice as long, depending on air circulation.

 

Next step - Testing for Dryness

 


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