If you're new to dehydrating, here are 10 easy dehydrating projects for beginners. They are easy, almost foolproof, and will give you a sense of accomplishment. Get started in your dehydrating journey today!
Too often, people new to dehydrating try to tackle a big project, only to be confused because the produce didn't turn out like the photo in the exact amount of time that they thought it should be done.
Or they tried a project trying to replicate what they purchase in the store, only to be disappointed that it doesn't taste the same.
I want to help you succeed at your first projects using your new dehydrator (or the one you've had tucked away in the garage since Christmas of '12 that you've never used!)
Haven't purchased a dehydrator, yet? Read these tips for purchasing your first dehydrator!
While dehydrating is one of the easiest ways to preserve, sometimes, particular foods can be time-consuming to prepare (blanching or a lot of work to peel and prep), or may be a little tricky in finding that right moment that they are done.
But on the whole, dehydrating is easy, though not quick, but almost a hands-off project that you can do in your sleep!
So to help you be successful on your first try, here are
10 Easy Dehydrating Projects for Beginners
One of the very best starter dehydrating projects to give yourself the confidence that you can do this is frozen vegetables.
They are pre-cut, pre-blanched, and ready to just throw onto your dehydrating trays, set at 125F and go! Simply store in airtight containers (preferably vacuum sealed), and toss into your favorite stew to bulk it up.
Taking it a Step Further: Vegetable Powder
Take it even a step further to make Vegetable Powder! It's a great all-purpose powder that adds a nutritional boost to anything you cook.
Green Onions (aka scallions) are just so easy to dehydrate. Simply wash, chop and dry at 125F. It's as simple as that. You can separate the white from the green and use the whites as you would minced onion, the green as you would chives.
If you can spare a few tears, dehydrated onions are just about one of the most versatile projects that you can create with your dehydrator. Imagine, spend 15 minutes chopping a bunch of onions, dehydrating them, and not having to deal with the tears for a very long time! Just toss them in your dishes and you're done!
Taking it Step Further: Onion Powder
I love using the whites of green onions to grind and add to onion powder. They have a slightly brighter taste which I enjoy!
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Herbs are truly the easiest thing to dry. Simply wash, place on trays and dry at 95°F / 35°C. Most are done within six hours.
There are a few issues that can pop up, though. Basil often needs to be chopped as some varieties do take a long time to dry. Some herbs prefer to be hung as they may lose their flavor/aroma in the drying process.
But dehydrating allows you to take advantage of large amounts of herbs at one time if you don't have space or means to hang them (such as high continuing humidity).
Store dehydrated herbs whole. Grind them for seasoning as you need them to keep the quality as 'fresh' as possible when adding to a dish.
I was simply shocked the first time I dehydrated ginger and then ground it for a recipe. It was as if I'd never had ground ginger before. It was bright, spicy, and so full of aroma! Even three months later, it still tasted better than anything I'd ever purchased at the store!
Store your ginger in its dehydrated form and grind only what you might need for a month or so. This will help ensure your powdered ginger is as fresh as it can be!
Do you hate running out of celery when you're making a soup or casserole? You'll never have to run out again - or face the roller coaster prices at the grocery store. Simply dehydrate chopped celery at 125°F and store it in an airtight container, and you'll never run out of celery for cooking again!
Take It a Step Further: Celery Salt
You CAN make your own celery salt. No need to ever buy that again, either! Because celery is high on the sodium scale, you can even create a celery salt to your taste and need (or just use powdered celery and skip the salt!)
I'm always excited for spring and fresh strawberries. But I have to say, I'm not a fan of them fresh. What I do love is dehydrating strawberries and using them as snacks or in granola or oatmeal.
They are easy to prep - wash, remove the green stem (hull), slice and dehydrate!
While 135°F / 57°C is the standard dehydrating temperature for fruits, I usually do my strawberries a little slower. It helps keep the color in the strawberries when drying (sugars can brown on some fruit).
Cucumbers / Zucchini
I'm combining these two vegetables because they work the same. Wash, slice thin, dehydrate at 135°F / 57°C until dry. You can put any amount of seasoning combinations on them to make great vegetable chips to sooth the snacky cravings!
Take it a Step Further
Zucchini can be thrown into soups or casseroles, powdered cucumber can be used to create a ranch-style dressing or even tzatziki
Bell peppers, like celery, are part of most cook's basic ingredients for many casseroles. But they can be expensive when not in season, or so easy to forget. Dehydrating them and keeping them in your pantry means never running out again when you want to make your favorite casserole or taking up precious freezer space!
Take it a Step Further
DIY 'paprika' from dehydrated bell peppers is a nice way to have a sweet paprika flavor for things like deviled eggs, putting on roasted chicken, etc.!
But quick tip - line your trays with a fruit leather sheet or parchment. Bell peppers can stain plastic mesh/shelves.
Tomatoes are a great project because they require little prep. Simply wash and remove the stems, slice for snacks (with some parmesan and herbs sprinkled on top!) or diced for inclusion chicken salads or stews.
Take it a step further: Tomato Powder
But one of the best ways to preserve tomatoes for down the line is Tomato powder, which Shell from RockinWHomestead demonstrates. It can be used to make tomato paste, thicken stews and casseroles, or create flavor packets for cooking and even DIY ketchup!
Don't mock. And yes, you can easily do this with fresh pineapple. But you wanted easy projects, right?
Learning how to purchase a ripe pineapple at an affordable price is sometimes hard. And learning to cut it (or having a tool to core & peel it) efficiently can be hard for some. So for a first project, canned pineapples are a great way to go!
Simply open the can, drain (and rinse if it is in heavy syrup), place on racks and dry at 135°F / 57°C until as dry as you can - you are looking for leathery or crips (depending on how thick your pieces are).
Test them when they are at room temperature, continue if they are still sticky. Store in an airtight container.
These will make your kids swoon!
Dehydrated greens for the win! As a mom, you want to make sure your kids are getting all the nutrition they can possibly get. But sometimes, life is crazy and it's hard.
This is a way for you to get extra vitamins and minerals, and your kids won't even know they're doing eating spinach, kale, collard, mustard greens, turnip greens or even lettuce.
That's right, even lettuce!
Dehydrating greens and powdering them in a blender is the perfect way to get extra greens into your diet and your kids' diet - so much so that you can even add green powder to brownies!
Take It a Step Further:
If you'd like a different kind of crunchy snack, try dehydrating some baby kale with a little nutritional yeast. It's crunchy with a hint of cheesy flavor, and is a perfect low-carb or keto snack!
Here's a bonus one: Do your kids love Lucky Charms? Or the little marshmallow bits in those hot cocoa packets? Now you can make them yourself, on a grand scale, and have fun treats that can be useful too!
Dehydrating marshmallows is a great way to get your kids involved in a no-fail project!
Whether you do chunks, rings, or dice, dehydrating apples is a great first project to try!
Want something more unique to try?
Why aren't other popular projects on this list?
There are many other easy dehydrating projects that are very popular, but tend to yield disappointing results to the first-time dehydrator.
- Bananas -- bananas can be hit or miss because people expect the texture of store-bought bananas (which happen to be fried).
- Potato -- potato slices are NOT a good replacement for fried potato chips. Also, you have to blanch them so that they don't turn black!
- Pickles - because they contain so much salt, pickles can be off-putting for some.
Don't NOT try these projects, but now that you know the pitfalls of some of them, you can try them, too!