No Dehydrator? No Problem. How to Dehydrate Food in the Oven
HOW TO DEHYDRATE FOOD IN THE OVEN
Dehydrated foods are ideal for backpackers and hikers because they are lightweight, can withstand heat, and they are easy to store. Have you ever wanted to dehydrate your own trail food but don’t have the money to invest in an electric dehydrator? I’m going to teach you how to dehydrate food in the oven. This is a fairly simple process, but is rather time consuming. Keep in mind also that the lowest temperature most ovens go is 140°F and the higher the temperature, the more nutrient content is lost. Most food dehydrators go as low as 85 or 95 degrees F, which keep the beneficial living enzymes in tact. If you’re interested in using a food dehydrator to preserve your foods keep them in a raw state, I suggest the Excalibur EXC10EL Food Dehydrator.
Set your oven on its lowest setting. This will probably be between 140 degrees F and 200 degrees F. The lower your oven setting, the longer your food will need to be in but more nutrient content will remain in tact. You can choose a little bit higher setting if you are short on time, but keep in mind more of the nutrient value will be lost.
Prep your food. If you are dehydrating fruit, you will need to peel and slice or chop them. To prevent browning, you might want to dip some fruits in a lemon juice mixture (1 cup lemon juice : 4 cups water) Vegetables will need to be chopped and either blanched or steamed. Blanching is done by immersing food in water for several minutes. Cook any meals you wish to dehydrate. While chopping ingredients, you want to make sure everything is a uniform size so that it will dry out at the same rate.
Spread food out on flat cookie sheet. You will want a single layer of food and a flat cookie sheet to ensure air flow around all sides of the food.
Place cookie sheet in oven. You will probably want to prop the oven door open a few inches to improve air flow. You also might want to place a food-grade thermometer inside the oven door to periodically check oven temps.
Leave food in oven for around 6-8 hours. Depending on what you are dehydrating, times will vary but 6-8 hours seems to be the average. Fruits will be pliable but almost brittle when done and most vegetables will be brittle when done. If the food is stuck to the tray when done put it in the freezer for a few minutes and it should pop right off.
Store food. The more airtight you can store the food, the better. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, opt for freezer bags and try to remove as much air as possible before sealing the bag.
BACKPACKING SNACK IDEAS FOR DEHYDRATING
- Fruit – berries, apples, cherries, pineapple, pears, watermelon
- Vegetables – kale, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, green beans, broccoli
- Beef Jerky
BACKPACKING MEAL IDEAS FOR DEHYDRATING
- Soups and Stews – Lentil, black bean
- Veggie burrito bowls
- Ground or minced meats
So, have you tried dehydrating food in your oven? I’d love to hear how it worked out for you. If you have any questions or tips please feel free to comment below!