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How to Dehydrate Your Summer Harvest Vegetables



A plate of dehydrated green bean chips.

In my previous article, we went over the process of canning your summer harvest vegetables. There’s another way to preserve your summer harvest – vegetable dehydration.

Many gardeners prefer this method over other preservation methods. Here are just a few reasons why.

  • Lightweight and Portable – Dehydrated foods are easy to pack because drying removes the heavy water content, which saves room on storage. Also, meal packing for a camping or hiking trip is a breeze!
  • Preserves Nutrition – If you use a low enough temperature when drying, the vegetable’s naturally present nutrition remains.
  • Can Be Stored at Room Temperature – Dehydrated foods that are stored in air-tight or vacuum sealed containers keep well at room temperature for at least a year.
  • Ideal for Prepping – As mentioned before, when food is dehydrated, it takes up less space — not to mention that dehydrated food has a great shelf life!

We’ll go over the dehydration process for 7 vegetables from your summer harvest.

  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Carrots

If you do not own a food dehydrator and need a great recommendation check out this great article, from us here at Survival Life, on the Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator.

It’s an easy process and a great DIY project. Let’s get started!

Onions

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  • Peel off the outer layer and dice onions into pieces about  ½ inch long.
  • Separate any layers stuck together and spread out in a single layer on dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 145° for two hours.
  • Reduce to 135° for six to eight more hours or until pliable.
  • Move the onions around every couple of hours to speed up drying.

Tomatoes

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  • Wash tomatoes to remove any possible pesticides.
  • Cut out the hard spot where the tomato was attached to the stem. There is no need to remove the seeds.
  • Slice tomatoes four or five times across and then dice the slices into pieces.
  • Spread out in a single layer on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets. Include the juices to maximize the nutritional value.
  • Shake a little salt on the tomatoes if desired.
  • Dehydrate tomatoes at 135° for approximately eight to ten hours until dry and leathery.

Tips: Dried tomatoes are bendable, not brittle. You can start out at 145° for the first two hours to speed things up. Stirring the tomatoes every few hours helps to dry them evenly and will shorten the drying time.

Garlic

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  • Peel and finely chop cloves.
  • Spread chopped garlic over trays. Use parchment paper if mesh is too large.
  • Dry at 105° until crisp.

Tip: You can store as-is or you can grind it to make garlic powder.

Bell Peppers

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  • Wash and cut peppers into ½ inch pieces, trimming away the white fleshy part on the inside.
  • Place cut peppers on dehydrator tray in single layer with the skin side down.
  • Dehydrate at 125° for approximately six to eight hours.

Tip: Take advantage of the color possibilities of peppers to brighten your meals.

Potatoes

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  • Peel potatoes (optional) and cut longwise into halves for small potatoes or quarters for large potatoes.
  • Slice crosswise ⅛ of an inch thick like scalloped potatoes or dice into ⅜ inch cubes.
  • Steam or boil for ten minutes.
  • Allow to cool and place on dehydrator tray in single layer.
  • Apply salt if desired.
  • Dry at 125° for six to eight hours.

Note: Potatoes will be hard when dehydrated which will make them a little too hard to snack on. They are chewy when rehydrated in meals but soften with longer simmer times or in soup that cooks for a while.

Jalapeno Peppers

dehydrated jalapenos

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  • Wash peppers and cut into rings crosswise. The fleshy inside part and seeds can be removed or included for more spice.
  • Dry in a single later at 125° for approximately six hours.

Tip: Use with caution as the spice concentrates in the dried jalapeno pepper. Use two to three slices per serving in meals where you want some extra spice.

Carrots

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Note: Before you begin, dry carrots raw or steam them first for eight minutes. Carrots shrink a lot when dried, so use large carrots instead of baby carrots. Steamed carrots shrink more than raw carrots and will turn a dark orange.

  • Peel and cut into ⅛ inch thick slices. If a carrot has a narrow or tapered end, that part can be shaved with a peeler or grater instead of slicing it.
  • Dehydrate at 125° for approximately six to ten hours or until leathery.

Have you freeze dried your own food? Got any tips to share? We’d love to hear them! Share your knowledge with your fellow readers in the comment section below.

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