How to Dehydrate Seafood - Safely



Want to know how to dehydrate seafood safely? Read on! You, too, can have dried fish in a jiffy!

Salmon, Shrimp, and Tuna

Before starting the drying process, it's important to purchase fresh fish fillets of your choice from a specialty fish market, or a trusty local supermarket.

Read how to choose fresh fish here.

If you can "smell fish," don't buy it. Fresh fish does not stink! Yeah, a slight fishy aroma is allowed, but it shouldn't be overpowering.

Clean Fresh Fish Before Drying Fish on Your Dehydrator

Clean your fish by removing any bones or shells.

Continue reading for Shrimp, Salmon, and Tuna deets specifically. These are the top three dried fish requests.

TOP Frequently Asked Question:

Can you dehydrate fish?

Yes, and we show you how to dehydrate salmon, shrimp, and tuna on this page, further down.

Can you rehydrate dried fish?

Yes, you can rehydrate dried fish. To do this, simply soak the fish in water for a few hours or overnight. The fish will absorb the water (be rehydrated)... and ready to eat.

Can you dehydrate frozen fish? (See THIS surprising answer!)

No. The reason why you should not dehydrate fish that has been frozen is because when you freeze fish, the ice crystals can form inside the muscle tissue which can essentially puncture the cell walls of the fish as it expands.

When cell walls are damaged, this can cause bacteria to form when dehydrating and the fish might not be safe to eat.

How to Dehydrate Seafood ~ The Drying Process

By having uniformly sized fresh fish, we get better drying results. If the fish is not properly blotted dry before dehydrating (using paper towels), it will drip and cause sticking-to-the-tray issues.

If seafood is still dripping after blotting with a paper towel, it's still too wet!

Dry fish are happy fish (in this case!)

Also, air drying the fish a little longer means it's on the dehydrator for a shorter time.

Once the fish is dried, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Read on for more deets.

a trio of shrimp

Dehydrating Shrimp

Here are the steps for properly dehydrating shrimp at home:

  1. Start by making sure your shrimp are very fresh. Clean them thoroughly, removing shells, tails, legs, veins, and then butterfly (cut in half from head to tail) if desired. Rinse well.
  2. Pat the shrimp dry before dehydrating using paper towels. Moisture is shrimp's enemy during drying.
  3. Arrange your whole or butterflied shrimp evenly in a single layer on the dehydrator trays without overlapping.
  4. Dehydrate for 4-10 hours at 145°F until completely stiff and brittle, with a slightly translucent, deep orange hue. The exact time varies due to the thickness of the shrimp and your home's humidity level.
  5. To test for doneness, fully-dried shrimp will snap when bent rather than be flexible. No moist spots should remain inside.
  6. Cool completely then store your dried shrimp in an airtight container for up to 2 months, or in the freezer for 6 months.

Monitor closely when dehydrating to prevent case hardening on the outside before the interior moisture fully evaporates. Rotate the trays occasionally for even drying.

Rehydrate before eating by soaking for 10-30 minutes in broth, water, or sauce - until pliable. Cook per your recipe's instructions and enjoy!

Two fresh salmon steaks

Dehydrating Salmon

Here is how to dehydrate fresh salmon at home:

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs fresh salmon filets, skin and pin bones removed

Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Slice your salmon against the grain into 1/4-inch thick uniform strips.
  2. In a resealable bag or shallow dish, mix the marinade ingredients. Add salmon strips, and toss to coat evenly. Marinate for 30 mins - 1 hour.
  3. Drain salmon well and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange in a single layer on dehydrator trays.
  4. Dehydrate at 145°F for 5-7 hours until salmon strips are slightly shrunken down, darkened, and brittle, with no moist spots remaining inside when cut.
  5. Cool completely then store your dried salmon in an airtight container for 1 month refrigerated, or up to 3 months frozen.

Enjoy your dried salmon pieces as a healthy snack!

The key is slicing salmon thinly so it dehydrates inside and out without overly hardening. Rotate your dehydrator trays periodically for consistent results.

3 fresh tuna steaks

Dehydrating Tuna

Here's how to dehydrate fresh tuna at home for a tasty, protein-packed snack in just a few easy steps:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sushi-grade tuna, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger

Instructions:

  1. Slice tuna fillets against the grain into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick uniformly sized strips.
  2. In a shallow dish, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, and grated ginger. Add tuna strips and toss gently to coat. Marinate for 30 mins.
  3. Arrange tuna strips close together but not overlapping on dehydrator trays lined with parchment paper.
  4. Dehydrate the salmon strips at 145°F for 5-7 hours, checking periodically. When done, tuna will be darkened, have shrunk slightly, be dry to the touch, and brittle.
  5. Cool completely then store your dried tuna strips in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or several months refrigerated/frozen.

Enjoy your dried tuna "as is" for a salty *umami kick.

Of course, you can reconstitute your dried tuna in water before use.

Proper slicing and rotating of your trays help ensures even drying.

Play with different marinades like teriyaki or a citrus/herb mix to suit your taste!

*The salty umami flavor of the dried tuna refers to the concentrated, enhanced savory and mildly salty fish-flavors that result from combining the dehydration process with a soy sauce marinade.

Storing Dried Fish Using Vacuum-Sealer Bags

Dried fish can be an excellent addition to your food storage pantry.

If you have a seafood-loving family, then chances are you want to have some fish on hand for those times when you can't make it to the store or when it's simply too expensive.

This is where the FoodSaver food vacuum sealer comes in!

How so?

Store your dried fish in food vacuum-sealer bags or make your own bags "to size" using vacuum-sealer rolls. Read more about bags here and rolls here.

How to Dehydrate Seafood: Fatty Fish vs. Lean Fish

FATTY FISH:
Dehydrate fatty fish at a lower temperature for a shorter time.

LEAN FISH:
Dehydrate lean fish at a higher temperature for a longer time.

When it comes to learning how to dehydrate seafood safely, there is a big difference between fatty fish and lean fish. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, have a high oil content.

This oil helps to keep the fish moist and gives it its flavor.

Lean fish, such as cod, flounder, and haddock, have very little oil.

The difference in oil content affects how long you dehydrate the fish.

Preserved Fish Can Last for Months

Properly dried fish aka 'preserved fish' is great for storing for the long-term. When done properly, the shelf-life of dried fish is months, or even years.

Check out the following TOP tips to make sure your fish - preserved by dehydrating - stays safe and tasty.

TOP Tips on Producing Safe-to-Eat Dried Fish

Here are a few tips on how to dehydrate fish safely:

  1. Make sure the fish is completely dry before you dehydrate it.
  2. Don't dehydrate fish that's been frozen or contains ice crystals (see FAQ at top of the page as to why).
  3. Dehydrate the fish at a low temperature to avoid bacteria growth.
  4. Store the dried fish in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Dry Fish at a Low Temperature for Best Results

The drying process of fish at a low temperature is important because it helps prevent the growth of bacteria as we don't want to experience food poisoning, right? Right!

We typically dehydrate fish on a low temperature as fish can spoil quickly if dried at a high temperature, risking case hardening (tough, outer "skins") which stops foods from drying evenly.

Keep an eye on the dehydration process closely.

NOTE: If your dehydrator manual has specifics on drying fish, read it!

Best Storage Containers

Mason Jars

The best storage containers for dehydrated food are airtight and are moisture-proof. This helps to keep the food fresh and prevents it from spoiling.

Check out this page on vacuum-sealer bags (as mentioned earlier) and try storing your fish in glass Mason jars. Both are ideal for long-term storage - and for keeping your newly dehydrated fish free from spoilage!

Cleaning Your Dehydrator After Dehydrating Fish

Cleaning your dehydrator is important to avoid bacteria growth and to keep your dehydrator in good condition. After dehydrating fish, here is the best way to clean your dehydrator:

  • After unplugging the dehydrator and all the fish is removed, wipe down all the interior and exterior surfaces of the dehydrator with a warm, soapy cloth.
  • Wipe off the soapy residue with hot water. (Never immerse a dehydrator's fan in water!)
  • Allow your dehydrator to "air dry."
  • Make sure the dehydrator is completely dry before plugging it back in and using it again.

For the trays: Rinse off any fishy residue in the kitchen sink, and then use your dishwasher the clean the trays!

Please note: Check to make sure your brand of tray is "dishwasher safe." I don't want them melting on you in the heat-drying cycle. In fact, in other posts, I suggest using the wash and rinse cycles only on your dishwasher, and taking out the trays BEFORE the heat/dry cycle starts.

No dishwasher? Soak your trays in the sink in hot soapy water. Use a scrubby pad or an old toothbrush to get in the tight spaces. Rinse well and let air dry,

What are Your Favorite Fish Seasonings?

Have you dried fish before? What are your favorite tips? Do you have any favorite fish seasonings?

Lemon juice and garlic powder go a long way in adding flavor to baked fish.

Share your TIPS below on how to dehydrate seafood:

Share your Seafood Dehydrating Tips

Do you have a great tip about dehydrating seafood? Share it!

FISHING:
Do You Have the Skill and Patience?

dozing fisherman, rod in hand, waiting patiently for that bite

All you have to do now is simply have the patience to catch the fish.

Or do what I do... go to the store or fresh fish market!

Thanks for stopping by to learn how to dehydrate seafood. If you need to ask me anything, send me an email here.