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Food Dehydration - How to Dry Foods Instead of Canning or Freezing

Food Dehydration - How to Dry Foods Instead of Canning or Freezing

Dry your own fruits, vegetables and other foods

Click here to print a PDF overview of the steps

Dehydration is an alternative to canning (called "bottling" in the UK) and freezing fruits and vegetables. If you have a surplus of fruits or vegetables from your garden, but lack the canning equipment or freezer space, drying may be the right method for you!

Dehydrated foods have a number of advantages: Dehydration is a low-cost way to preserve food that is free from concerns about botulism, the dried foods require less storage space than canned goods, and there's no freezer to keep running.

If you want to dry meats or make a meat jerky, see this page.

Best / Easiest Fruits to Dry

Some fruits are easier than others to dry at home. The more challenging ones can become sticky and fall apart, not firm, so it's best to start with these until you get some experience drying fruits:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • cantaloupes
  • cherries (pitted)
  • citrus peel
  • coconut
  • cranberries
  • currants
  • dates
  • figs
  • grapes
  • nectarines
  • papayas
  • peaches
  • pears
  • pineapples
  • plums / prunes
  • pomegranates (if infused with sugar or juice)
  • rhubarb
  • strawberries

Equipment needed

Select the drying method and equipment that is right for you.

Foods can be dried in a (from best to worst, in terms of effectiveness, quality and safety)"

  • a food dehydrator, (Be sure to read the instructions with your dehydrator). A food dehydrator is a small electrical appliance for drying foods indoors. A food dehydrator has an electric element, similar to a a hair dryer) for heat and a fan and vents for air circulation. Dehydrators are efficiently designed to dry foods fast at 140ºF. Costs vary depending on features, from a low of about $35 to a high of $200. Most models are expandable and you can purchase additional trays later. Twelve square feet of drying space dries about a half-bushel of produce. The major disadvantage of many dehydrators is their limited capacity.
    See this page for models, prices and features of popular and reliable food dehydrators and where to get them.
  • a convection oven (has a fan, like a dehydrator, but it may be difficult to maintain a low enough temperature),
  • A regular oven, (note: Drying is in a regular kitchen oven slower than dehydrators because it does not have a built-in fan for the air movement.  It takes about two times longer to dry food in an oven than it does in a dehydrator. Thus, the oven is not as efficient as a dehydrator and uses more energy.)
  • in the sun. (very, very slow... Drying times for sun drying could range from 2 to 6 days, depending on temperatures and humidity.

Now see Step 1 Preparation

Links to all steps:

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