Guide to Dehydrating Food at Home

The Savory Answer to Food Wastage

It's time. Time to start dehydrating food at home. As you look at the fresh fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator and see them turning from vibrant and lively to darkened and soggy, you need to read this guide to dehydrating food at home: the savory answer to food wastage.

Rotting vegetablesCreated with Midjourney

You may wonder, "Isn't there a better way?"as you dodge the side-eye glances from your kids as you toss the rotten potatoes in the garbage.

Why, Yes, There Is (a Better Way)

You yearn to provide fresh, nutritious food for your family without dealing with the constant race against waste. Your kitchen probably seems more like a pit stop for spoilage rather than a hub for nourishment, right?

Here's where we introduce you to the fascinating art of dehydrating food—a tried and tested method for preserving the food and flavor longer.

Actually, dehydrated food has a more concentrated taste. Why? Because the water (which bulks up the food) is evaporated during the dehyrating process. Makes sense!

The Good Old(en) Days

Drying food on racksCreated with Midjourney

Dehydrating food at home not only offers satisfying food preservation but also symbolizes a nostalgic charm that brings in inner peace of mind and sparks pioneer woman feelings.

OK, that's my trip down memory lane. Not that I'm anywhere near being a pioneer woman!

The Charm of Dehydrating Food at Home

Dried sliced apples and dried sliced mushroomsCreated with Midjourney

The magic of dehydration lies in its simplicity. Though dehydrating foods at home might test your patience, witnessing that first batch of tangy apple chips or savory mushroom slices is well worth it.

From powerful jerky - brimming with intense flavors - to sweet, chewy fruit leather, home dehydration provides a creative and practical solution to your food waste conundrums.

Plus, the energy consumption concerns you might have regarding running a dehydrator for hours at a time, can be offset by the savings in food cost (or rather, less waste) and gaining space in your refrigerator and freezer. Sell the spare refrigerator that is in the garage.

Getting Started:

Easy Food Dehydrating - free 6 simple steps mini-course

The first step in making your kitchen a bastion for deliciously dry food safely is to understand what this process entails.

Good news—it's simple - yes, as in my free "Six Simple Steps." The dehydration process slowly removes water from foods, preventing future microorganisms from spoiling them. The free email course teaches you the six steps, which includes adding oxygen absorbers (what size to get), and best storage methods for long-term storing.

Remember: It's a balance of time, temperature, and air circulation. It's not just an efficient way of prolonging the life of your food—it's also scientifically fascinating. It's amazing to see celery shrink down. Read my tips on dehydrating celery here.

How to Dehydrate Food:

But how do you get started? While you can invest in a food dehydrator, your standard oven will likely do the trick. Spread your chosen food on a baking sheet, set the oven to its lowest setting, and crack the door slightly for air circulation... doesn't sound so great, right? What if you don't want to heat up the house as it's mid summer? Would be cozy in winter, though!

And while the timings vary, the process might take between six to twelve hours, depending on the type of food. I bet you're thinking that doesn't sound stress-free - and you're right! Read on...

Put Dehydrating Food at Home "On Auto"

Nesco dehydrator
Excalibur dehydrator

If you prefer to "set it and forget it," then invest in a dehydrator. The starter models are surprisingly affordable and last for years. I began my dehydrating journey with a Nesco (still have it!) along with my starter Excalibur (I still have that beauty, too!).

Check out this page about Nesco and Excalibur dehydrator models.

To learn  more about Nesco Dehydrators click here,
or Excalibur Dehydrators click here.

Safety Measures While Dehydrating Food at Home

When it comes to dehydrating food, safety is paramount. Make sure the foods are adequately dried and stored properly to avoid bacterial growth. Dehydrating food at temperature below 140°F may not kill harmful bacteria. In most cases, food needs to be 95% dehydrated for long-term storage.

It's the removal of water that works. When we store our dehydrated foods in airtight containers in a dark space, we take care of the "three enemies," namely

  1. air,
  2. light, and
  3. water.

On each of my how to dehydrate fruit, and vegetables pages,  you'll see the average length of time it takes to fully dehydrate 16 of the top vegetables, and 14 of the top fruits - and what the expected texture is like when dried properly.

Cooked chicken salmon and beef

The Book Includes Meats too!

I also cover meats such as chicken, turkey, beef, too inside Easy Food Dehydrating & Safe Food Storage.

Learn about pork and seafood on our site (click the links to read them).

To aid in storing your dehydrating goodies, we use Oxygen Absorbers. These little oxygen packs absorb oxygen, as their name implies. We add an oxygen absorber inside our vacuum sealer bag PRIOR to vacuuming out the air. Learn more about the different sizes of oxygen absorbers here.

Savoring and Storing Your
Homemade Dehydrated Delights

Mason jars filled with dehydrated vegetables

Imagine the peace of mind that comes with opening your cupboard to find rows of containers filled with nutritious, delicious, and safely dehydrated foods, ready to re-hydrate for stews, soups, smoothies, or just as a healthy snack.

Dehydrated food storage is indeed a delight. Preserved and properly packed, these foods require less space, reducing freezer and refrigerator clutter. Read more on how to store food here.

And There You Have It

Whether you are a 'full plate' working mom always in a hurry, or a retiree with time to connect with this economy-friendly activity, or someone who simply loves throwing on your domestic goddess apron and creating something marvellous—home dehydration of foods can be your secret ally against food wastage, impulse grocery shopping, and a cluttered refrigerator.

Family eating dehydrated beef stewCreated with Midjourney

Homemade dehydrated meals are not just convenient and healthy, they also give a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

20 Taste-Tested Easy Recipes containing dehydrated food

The process demands forward planning, yes, and yet, the result is very rewarding—efficient control over food waste, alongside producing delightfully handy meals.

So why not give dehydrating food a try? It could well be the smart, cost-efficient solution you've been seeking.

Indeed, indulging in this art yields concentrated, intense flavors, and a sense of creative fulfillment.

Embrace this technique and join thousands of (men and) women who have found delight in homemade dehydration.

It’s easier than you think!

The author, Susan Gast, used GPT-4 by OpenAI, Bard by Google, and Claude2 by Anthropic, to research this topic. The author then wrote this entire article, optimizing its content and value for you the reader. As such, she takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication. Midjourney (and occasionally Leonardo) also helped her bring back stunning images for you to feast your eyes on. Also, utilizing AI as an assistant means she can write better, more interesting articles - just for you - on a regular basis.

Susan Gast owner, Easy Food Dehydrating plus and

Susan Gast began Easy Food Dehydrating in December 2010. Read Susan's story of what sparked her interest in all things related to "food dehydrating."

She is featured on Mother Earth News blog, and on Solo Build It (SBI) who host this site. Read her first SBI interview, and her second SBI interview.

Since 1980, Susan's involvement in publishing - in one form or another - led her to create a "review site" of products related to the publishing industry. Visit ePubTechReviews today, also hosted by Solo Build It. Susan also runs her namesake site on Solo Build It that showcases the books she has written since 2010.

Do you want to send Susan a quick message? Visit her contact page here. She'd love to hear from you!