Dehydrating vegetables is one of the ways you can preserve your garden bounty. The crispy, dried vegetables make a healthy snack or they can be rehydrated in soups and other dishes. Dehydrating frees up space in your freezer and doesn't require special equipment like some other preservation methods do. There is no need to purchase an expensive food dehydrator when you begin drying your vegetables. Use your oven and the proper technique and the only cost is the energy it costs to run your oven.
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Things you need
- Baking trays
- Parchment sheets
- Paper towels
- Oven thermometer
Clean and slice vegetables. Cut large vegetables, such as carrots, into 8 mm (1/4 inch) discs. Remove pods and non-edible material from small vegetables such as peas.
Fill a large pot half full with water and bring it to a boil. Fill a bowl with cold water and place it next to the stovetop.
Place 1 litre (1 quart) of prepared vegetables on a square of cheesecloth. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth together to make a pouch and tie it closed.
Place the cheesecloth pouch into the boiling water. Boil for four to five minutes then scoop the bag out with a spoon and immediately place it in the cold water to stop the cooking process.
Line baking trays with parchment baking sheets. Blot the vegetables dry with a paper towel and spread them out on the lined sheets in a single layer, with no sides touching.
Preheat the oven to 60 or 66 degrees C (140 or 150 degrees F) if that is the lowest temperature setting. Place an oven thermometer inside the oven and prop the door open halfway. Adjust the cooking temperature until the oven thermometer maintains a reading of 60 degrees C (140 degrees F).
Place the baking sheets in the oven, stacking them if necessary but maintaining a 6.3 cm (2.5 inch) distance between trays. Check the temperature and the food to see if it is scorching every one to two hours.
Check food near the end of the drying time to see if it's done. Dehydrating takes between six and 15 hours on average, depending on the vegetable. Food is done when it is it is crispy and hard.
Tips and warnings
- Store dried vegetables in sealed bags or jars in a dark pantry. Many dried foods store for up to 12 months.
- Food is prone to scorching toward the end of drying. Turn off the oven the last 30 minutes of the cook time to avoid this.
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