- Hide menu

Using Dehydrators

Using Dehydrators

Owning a dehydrator will help equip your kitchen with the right tools.  It will open up a whole new world of raw culinary preparation and in preserving foods with the most nutrients left intact.

Why we dehydrate foods:

  • Dehydration is the process of removing water from food. Why would we do this?  There are several reasons.  It extends the shelf life of your food. You can create breads, crackers, and chips, thus satisfying the “crunch” factor that is often missed by those who choose to follow a raw food diet.
  • You can also use your dehydrator to warm foods.
  • Dehydrated foods intensify in flavor, color, and can add different textures to your meals as well.
  • One thing to remember is that when you eat dehydrated foods, be sure to drink plenty of fluids.

When will I use a dehydrator with raw foods?

  • To “slow bake” raw breads, crackers, cookies, cakes, and many other dishes.
  • To thicken sauces.  You can make a “reduction” just like you do in the cooking world in your dehydrator.  Simply place your sauce in a glass, uncovered dish, setting the temp at around 115 degrees (F) for 2-3 hours.
  • To warm foods while maintaining its “enzymatic integrity.” Such as raw soups.
  • To soften coconut oil and raw cacao butter gently.
  • To speed up the marinating of vegetables.  Place your thinly cut veggies and marinating sauce in a covered glass container and dehydrate for 1-2 hours.  It will speed up the process intensifying the flavors, softening the vegetables, and giving it a cooked appearance.

What can I dehydrate?

  • Drying is a wonderful way to keep your abundance of homegrown fruit, or farmer’s market finds for months after the harvest is over.  Always package your dried fruits in a tightly sealed container and store in a cool, dry space for optimum shelf life.
  • Using a food dehydrator is suitable for a variety of foods, including:
    • Fruits
    • Vegetable
    • Herbs
    • Seeds
    • Cheese
    • Yogurt
    • Raw cookies/bars
    • Raw dishes
  • Drying Herbs: Here are some straightforward tips to keep in mind when drying herbs to use in your everyday cooking! You’ll love how they bring out the flavor in your favorite foods and dishes!
    • Remember that the best time to harvest most herbs for drying is just before the flowers first open when they are just about to bud. Consider gathering your herbs in the early morning after the dew has evaporated, and you will minimize wilting.
    • Trim off any dead or discolored plant parts and rinse your precious herbs in cool water and gently shake them to remove excess moisture – be careful not to bruise the leaves!
    • Always store your dehydrated herbs in airtight containers free from moisture and sunlight. You don’t want sunlight reaching your herbs as it will fade the color and weaken the flavoring oil.

What temperature should I use?

  • In recent research by The Excalibur Dehydrator Company, they suggest that it is better to begin the dehydration process at 145 degrees (F) for the initial stage of the drying process. The reasoning is that as the food is dehydrating, it literally “sweats out” the moisture it contains. By doing this, we are inhibiting bacterial growth by reducing the time the food spends in the dehydrator.
  • So in many recipes, you might notice that they start the dehydration temperature a higher temperature around 145 degrees. Then the temperature is reduced down to 105-115 degrees after a few hours (will be indicated on the recipe).  I know what many of you are thinking….”Am I killing the valuable enzymes?”  The answer is NO; the food is still considered raw, the nutrition and the enzymes are still intact.  Should a recipe call for this process, make sure you don’t forget to turn the temperature back down; otherwise, you will indeed lose all the benefits of being raw.  The process of starting at a higher temperature is so that the bulk of moisture can be removed, thus speeding up the overall dry time and preventing fermentation.  Because there is so much moisture, in the beginning, the food doesn’t heat up; it stays relatively cool.
  • Key to remember – Do not dehydrate above 115 degrees, unless you following the formula above.

How long do I dehydrate my foods?

  • There isn’t a set answer on this when it comes to complicated recipes.  It mainly depends on your personal preference on what the overall outcome will be.  For example, take a cracker recipe… you can turn that recipe into a bread recipe if you wanted just by removing the mixture from the dehydrator before it gets too crispy.
  • Keep in mind if you have oils in your recipe, it may never get really crispy anyway.   Oils don’t release moisture.
  • I have made a lot of different raw cookies that don’t even require dehydration at all, but sometimes I put them in there to create a crunch on the outer skin or to warm them.  Refer to the paragraph above regarding how you can speed up your drying time.
  • Be sure to let your food cool for 10-20 minutes before sealing in an airtight container.
  • Key to remember – When all the moisture is removed from your food, you have a much longer shelf life.  If you remove your food before it’s completely dry and moisture remains,  it won’t last as long and has a chance of fermenting a lot sooner.

Can I dehydrate different foods at the same time?

  • I don’t recommend dehydrating savory foods with sweet foods.  The flavors could influence one another. Nothing like a sweet chocolate cookie with a hint of garlic?!  It’s along with the same concept of your cutting board.  You should always have one side designated for savory foods (garlic, etc.) and the other side for your sweet ingredients.

What dehydrator should I buy?

  • Again, I am going to share my personal preference, again based on experience.  I am 100% sold on the Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator.  The Excalibur has the Parallexx Horizontal-Airflow Drying System, which evenly distributes air, eliminating “hot” spots.  It also has a thermostat that controls the temperature.  It uses mesh and  Teflex sheets.  These are non-stick sheets that are used whenever the food to be dehydrated is of a more liquid-like consistency that could spill through the plastic net sheet that is consistently used on the dehydrator tray.  I have heard a few arguments to where some people feel that this machine is too large.  My response to that is that it doesn’t have to become part of your kitchen decor.  For instance,  I have mine in the laundry room.  The gentle hum that comes from it doesn’t bother me at all.  But if that is a bother, find another room or spot that you can use it in rather than your kitchen counter.
  • I recommend the Excalibur

Tips and Tricks to remember:

  1. Remember to slice or dice your food uniformly and thinly so that you maintain even dehydration.
  2. Start your dehydration at 145 degrees for 1-2 hours, then turn down to 105 degrees.
  3. If you don’t have teflex sheets, you can use parchment paper or brown paper bags.
  4. Check your foods periodically as they are drying.  Test flavors and textures to get the desired outcome.
  5. Keep your dehydrator clean!
  6. Try to maximize its use and load all the trays.  You can dry different types of foods at the same time, but remember to keep sweets and savory foods separate.
  7. Always start with fresh, good quality food.
  8. Cool all dehydrated food before storing it. Choose airtight containers or plastic freezer bags to keep moisture out.
  9. A key element in learning how to dehydrate foods is to recognize that the smaller the pieces, the faster they will dehydrate. Also, a food high in fructose, like fruit, will be leathery when it is finished with the dehydrating process.

30 thoughts on “Using Dehydrators

  1. Miri says:

    Hi Amie! I got my dehydrator finally :-) it traveled oceans of time to get to me heehee . Thanks you ( and Bob ) so much ! So far i have made : yoghurt leathers, apple leather, dried fruits ( mangoes, chico, pineapple, lanka ) all turned out fairly good. Im working on Dragon fruit next. I did dried veggies ( im gonna need advice on this though ) next- like tomorrow im drying some mint and oregano- should i dry them at separate times? I hope its not a bother, i may be pestering quite often :-)

    LOVE your new site!


    • amie-sue says:

      Miri!!! so wonderful to hear from you!

      Goodness, that took forever for that dehydrator to get to you but regardless, I am glad you got it and are using it. :) Ask all the questions that you can fire at me. If I don’t know the answer, I will help you find it.

      It sounds like you have been busy already dehydrating all sorts of goodies. How exciting. To answer your question about dehydrating the mint and oregano at the same time or not….you can do them at the same time. Do on separate trays though. It shouldn’t be a problem at all. They won’t take very long either. The only time I really throw a word of caution out is dehydrating a sweet item and a savory item at the same time. It is possible for the strong pungent aromas of the savory foods to infuse into the sweet foods. Does that make sense? In the end, it might be ok but not a risk I want to take. So what I am saying is that I don’t recommend dehydrating garlic cloves on one sheet and pineapple on the other. :) Let me know how things turn out for you! amie sue

      • Miri says:

        Hi Amie Sue!
        Thanks for the herb advice- i did a couple, oregano, mint, tarragon in separate trays and they dried up nicely, stored them in jars :-)
        My apple leather didnt come out quite well, i pureed fresh apples and mixed in some raw honey , spread them out then baked for around 12 hours it didnt come together? Too much honey? So i scaped it and made it into candy instead . How to make leathers?
        Thanks! Im trying out your peanut butter cookie recipe next :-)


        • amie-sue says:

          Good evening Miri,
          I am so glad to hear that your herbs turned out. :) Though I am sorry to hear about your fruit leather. Can you explain a bit more to me as to what you did and how it turned out? I have one recipe posted for banana crepes / leathers. Under recipes click on breads / wraps. I just made some apple wraps but I haven’t published it because I need to take a picture. I will do that tomorrow! But give me some more details so I can help trouble shoot this.

          I hope you love the peanut butter cookie as much as I do! YUM!!!

  2. Irina says:

    Hi Amie-Sue,
    I made some of your honey oat bread and stored the bread pieces in an airtight container. But now 5 days later the container is getting “foggy,” would that mean that the bread is not dry enough. Should I move it into the fridge. I am very new to the raw diet, so thank you very much for all your recepis.

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Irina,

      Shelf life and storage: My personal recommendation would be to store this bread in an air-tight container, in the fridge, for 3-5 days. The more moisture that is left in your bread, the shorter the shelf life. Therefore, shelf life will vary with your drying technique. Whenever I make this bread, it never lasts very long enough to spoil. Keep in mind, the whole purpose of eating a raw diet is to eat foods at their peek of freshness, so don’t expect this bread to have a long expiration date.

      Irina, I don’t know how much moisture was left in your bread after you dehydrated it, nor do I know if it has spoiled at this time. If it were me, I would open the bag and take a good whiff. Does it smell bad? Yeasty (even though it doesn’t have yeast in it… looking to see if there is a sour smell to it). Do you see signs of mold? Taste it? Does it taste sour? If yes to any of these questions, throw it away. You are going to have to be the judge of it. I am sorry that I don’t have a better answer. Have a great day, amie sue

  3. Irina says:

    Thanks for you reply. It tastes, smells and looks just fine. I will keep in mind your recommendations though. Thanks.

  4. Sandra Christmas says:

    Last week I decided to start doing the raw food diet. It seems like a lot of work but I know it is better for my health. I am lost with all the reading but I am going to start with the soups first and work my way through. I am a great cook and I figure in a year I will be blowing though all this. Do you have any advice you can give me on being a beginner??? I am so lost and can you tell me the easiest way to start and some of the dishes I should start off with. I am so happy I found your sight and the food dishes on here is wonderful . HELP!!! Thank you

  5. Min says:

    Hi Amie. I am new raw baking. I don’t have a dehydrator currently, is it possible to use the over on low heat with your bread recipes? Thanks. Cheers Min

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Min… I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t be sure, but I am guessing it could be ok. It most likely won’t be “raw” once done, so keep that in mind. Keep the heat as low as possible and crack the oven door during the process. You will have to watch the bread and test often. Let me know if you try it. Have a wonderful evening, amie sue

  6. Paul says:

    Hi, I really want to start making these raw breads and other things at home, which dehydrator should I start with?

    • amie-sue says:

      Hi Paul… if you look at my store which you can find the link at the bottom of the left side menu bar… there is a section with the Excalibur dehydrators. I LOVE and use those. amie sue

  7. Mary says:

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing. I am new at the raw food diet lifestyle and have so much to learn, and your site is so helpful!!First thing on my list is a dehydrator as I love my spicy food :)
    Thanx again for this wonderful informative site <3

    • amie-sue says:

      Thank you Mary. It blesses me to know that you are finding great inspiration throughout my site. I hope that you continue to do so. I am always her e if you have any questions. Have a great day, amie sue

  8. Irma says:

    Hi, I just got my dehydrator but I feel a little overwhelmed. I don’t know how to organize myself. Do you leave yours unattended? Do you run it at night? How do you organize yourself? For example on a receipe that needs to be first dehydrate at 145 for 5 hours and then 10 more hours at 105. Thanks!

    • amie-sue says:

      Good evening Irma…

      First thing first…. YAY!!! I am so glad that you made the investment. You will find it to a be a great tool to have in your kitchen. :)

      Secondly… Please don’t get overwhelmed, you will quickly get the hang of using the dehydrator and will find it so fun as new recipes open up to you. Can you share with me what machine and model you got?

      I have been using a dehydrator almost daily for the past 7 years… I do leave mine unattended, whether that be during the day or at night. You would never want to dry a food at 145 degrees for 5 hours if you wish for it to remain raw. I sometimes do 145 degrees for 1 hour if it has a high moisture content, such as my raw breads.

      As you begin to learn how to make dishes with your machine I might suggest that you start you experiments when you have a day off (If possible) so you don’t feel rushed, overwhelmed or worried. But I surely don’t want you to feel that you have to peek in your machine every 30 minutes to see how it is doing either.

      Since you are brand new to using a dehydrator, why not start with soaking and dehydrating nuts and/or seeds? This is very simple to do but it will break you in with great ease. Read this link… if you need some help with that. https://nouveauraw.com/soaking-nuts-seeds-and-grains/. You don’t have to worry about them over-drying so you won’t need to worry about when the machine has to turned off, if you know what I mean. Follow the directions for soaking, then dry them as instructed. You could place them in the machine in the evening and wake up to dried nuts / seeds or you can start the process in the morning and they should be done by late evening. Just depends on how full the machine is, the climate and so forth.

      Now, should you start with a recipe that tells you to dry at 145 degrees for 1 hour, then reduce the temp to 115 degrees (F)… I would turn the unit on, then set a timer (on your phone, stove, etc) once it goes off, reduce the heat. It is important that you watch the time when you have the temp up that high. Should you forget and the food dries the whole time at that heat, it won’t be raw anymore.

      I don’t know you schedule or lifestyle but get in the habit of fully reading a recipe all the way through so you can plan out the time it takes to make and dry the item. Ask yourself… Can it be drying while I am at work? Can it dry while I am sleeping? and so forth. It’s not a good idea to start a food dehydrating, then turn it off while still moist, let it sit while you are gone from the house, then come home and restart the machine backup. This can lead to bacteria growing on the food.

      Deep breath Irma… no stress, no worrying… enjoy the process and reap the rewards of delicious nutrient dense foods! I hope this helped. Please let me know. amie sue

      • Irma says:

        Thank you Amie-sue!
        I bought a TSM D-10 dehydrator. I decided on this one because it is less noisy.
        Everything you said was very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question and help me.
        There are so many things that I love about your site: recipes, pictures, the information you put, and that you are always there to help, thanks again!

        • amie-sue says:

          Your welcome Irma… glad that I was able to help. I haven’t seen the TSM in person. One day if you would like to, I would love to hear a review from you as to what you think about it. :) Have a blessed weekend. amie sue

  9. eemmily says:

    Can you use all of these in an oven too?!

  10. trishlee29 says:

    Hi Amie-Sue…I am trying to dehydrate some apples.

    I would love them to be crunchy…just can’t seem to get that crunch…What am I doing wrong?

    Hope your having a great day or night :)

    Yours sincerely Trish Lee

  11. Kareen says:

    Hi Im Kareen, im just going to start making Beef jerky. Although i didnt read it in your article about beef Jerky. I am interested to know about the process of temperature that you recommended. Does it also apply to beef jerky to turn the temperature high at first and then turn it low after some hours?
    I hope to hear you back. Thank you!

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Kareen,

      I think you would be best served to Google, “Dehydrating Beef Jerky” and do some research. This particular site is vegan (except for the use of honey). Good luck! amie sue

  12. Bella Nguyen says:

    To sweet Amie,

    I got the inspiration of dehydrating Excalibur from you. Like many people i am always on the way to look for good methods of cooking to keep the healthy nutrient and luckily i just found your page recently and decided to order 9-tray Excalibur ^^ yay

    I read your recommendation on veggie tools and quite overwhelm because there are many kinds. Because im new for this journey so could you please support me to choose one good slicer which can use for many purposes :)

    Thank you so much Amie.

    Bella Nguyen

  13. Thanks for mentioning that you can dehydrate herbs, seeds, cheese, and yogurt! My husband and I are wanting to expand our food storage, and we are starting to explore the world of dehydration. I’m glad I ran into your article; I never knew there were so many options! We’ll have to see if there are any dehydrator rentals in our area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *