While dehydrating may be a less popular food storage method than freezing or canning, that doesn’t mean it’s any less useful! In fact, dehydrated foods offer plenty of unique benefits that frozen and canned foods don’t.
One such benefit is that they are lightweight. This makes dehydrated foods an attractive food source for camping trips, hikes, and other outdoor activities where you wouldn’t want to carry around a bunch of extra weight. They also have a long shelf-life, so stocking up on dehydrated foods can make it easy to throw together a quick meal in the future!
There’s a lot of useful information out there about dehydrating, but unless you’re already experienced at it, all that information can be a bit overwhelming! So today we’ll be exploring 5 foods you can dehydrate at home, along with tips for putting those dried foods to good use.
5 Useful Foods You Should Dehydrate At Home
Why Dehydrate? – Dried potato flakes are always handy to have on hand when throwing together a quick meal. You can also add them to your favorite meatloaf or meatball recipe to help bind them together!
In order to make your own dehydrated potato flakes, you’ll need to start by making mashed potatoes. Peel a medium-sized russet potato or a large white potato and cut it into 4 pieces.
Boil the pieces until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain the potatoes thoroughly. Mash the cooked potatoes until the texture is smooth and free of lumps (and, don’t add anything either—you just want smooth, plain mashed potatoes.)
Spread the mashed potatoes onto your dehydrator’s fruit leather or jelly roll tray, then place the tray it in the dehydrator. Turn it on high and let the potatoes dehydrate until completely dry. (As a reference point, this took about 24 hours in my dehydrator.)
Remove the dried potatoes from the tray and break them up into small chunks. Place the chunks in your food processor or blender and pulse a few times to break them down into small granules. Store the finished potato flakes in a glass jar.
How To Rehydrate Potatoes
To rehydrate your potatoes, bring 1 cup of water or milk, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a boil on your stovetop. Add 1/2 cup of the potato flakes, stir, cover, and remove from heat.
Let it sit for 5 minutes, then whip the potatoes with a whisk. Add additional milk and/or butter if desired and serve.
Why Dehydrate? – Dried fruits like banana chips make a delicious and healthy snack, and they’re super simple to make yourself!
Cut a banana into thin slices, then arrange them in a single layer on your dehydrator racks. Turn your dehydrator on low heat and let the banana slices dry for around 7-8 hours, or to your liking. (I like mine when they’re still a little chewy, but you can dry them a bit longer if you like them crunchy.)
Store the dried banana slices in a ziplock bag or airtight container. Add them to your favorite trail mix or granola for a backpacking trip, sprinkle them into your morning oatmeal, or enjoy them as a yummy snack!
Other dehydrated fruits that are really popular are apricots, plums, blueberries, cranberries and raspberries.
Why Dehydrate? – Powdered eggs can be stored for much longer than fresh eggs, and you can use them in almost any of your favorite cooking and baking recipes.
If you find yourself with over-abundance of eggs, you can increase their shelf life dramatically by making your own powdered eggs. For full instructions and photos, read my blog post about making powered eggs here.
Why Dehydrate? – Homemade jerky is so much more affordable than the store-bought stuff, and the results are simply delicious.
To make your own jerky, you’ll need a lean cut of beef. (Lean cuts include flank steak, eye of round, top round, sirloin tip, and more.) Trim off any excess fat from the outside of the cut, then place it in your freezer for 1-2 hours. (This step just helps make the beef easier to cut!)
Remove the beef from your freezer, then slice it against the grain into 1/4″ thick slices. Place the slices into a container or ziplock bag and pour your favorite marinade over the top, then seal the bag and store it in your fridge for 6-24 hours.
After marinating, remove the meat strips from the bag and pat them dry with paper towels. Arrange the strips on your dehydrator racks, turn it on high, and let it run for 8 hours or so until the jerky is flexible, but just starting to crack. Store the finished jerky in an airtight container.
Why Dehydrate? – Yogurt powder can added to all kinds of recipes to add creaminess and bright flavor without the added liquid. You can also add it to smoothies for an easy boost of protein!
To dehydrate yogurt, spread your favorite yogurt out onto your fruit leather or jelly roll tray in an even layer. Place the tray into your dehydrator, turn it on low and let the yogurt dry completely, about 8 hours.
Once dry, break the dried yogurt into chunks, then blend or process them into a fine powder. Store the yogurt powder in an airtight container.
How To Rehydrate Yogurt
If you want to rehydrate your yogurt before using it, simply stir in water a little bit at a time until it reaches the consistency you want.
Bonus Tips For Dehydrating Food At Home
- You can dehydrate different foods at the same time, but be aware that smells and tastes may transfer between two foods. (For example, you’d want to avoid dehydrating garlic and bananas at the same time, because the taste and smell of garlic would likely leech into the bananas.)
- Dehydrated foods are best stored in glass jars in a cool, dark location.
- When slicing fruits or veggies before dehydrating them, slice the pieces evenly to ensure they dry at the same rate.
- If the fan in your dehydrator is located at one end of the machine, the trays nearest to the fan will dry out first. To promote even drying, rotate the position of the trays every couple of hours.
- The amount of time it takes to dehydrate something depends on many different factors (like humidity, dehydrator type, food thickness, water content, etc.) Make a habit of checking on your dehydrator once every couple of hours while running it, just in case the food dries faster or slower than expected.
- If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven in most cases! Read this post to learn more.
Do you dehydrate foods at home?