You don’t have to set up your food dehydrator to dry small amounts of veggies. Use the much more convenient oven!
January is National Soup Month. If you, like me, enjoy a good bowl of homemade soup, you may want to make some soup mixes ahead. Soups can be frozen or canned (I will post about those processes later this month), but the easiest make-ahead method of all is dried.
In the summer, when the garden harvest is in full swing, my food dehydrator sits on the counter and dries fruits and veggies for weeks on end. But this time of year I use the oven to dry the few veggies needed. Drying vegetables in the oven is a good Saturday project when you may be cleaning or doing other household chores. The oven can do its work while you are otherwise occupied but close enough to check on the vegetables.
How to Dry Veggies in the Oven
- Set your oven to 140 degrees or its lowest setting (some ovens won’t set below 170).
- Use the convection setting if available. The convection setting mimics a food dehydrator by circulating heated air in the oven and reducing the drying time needed.
- Cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
- Blanch raw vegetables until crisp-tender. Rinse to cool.
- It is not necessary to blanch raw onions, mushrooms, greens, zucchini or peppers.
- Raw vegetables that must be blanched before drying include carrots and other root vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, and winter squash.
- I find it easiest to blanch small amounts of vegetables in the microwave.
- Frozen vegetables that have been thawed may also be dehydrated. Blanching is not necessary for vegetables that have been previously frozen.
- Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends placing a cooling rack (like those used for cookies) on the baking sheet and placing the cut vegetables on the rack. However, I have always had good luck spreading the cut veggies directly on the baking sheet.
- Dry vegetables until they are brittle, occasionally turning the vegetable pieces. Timing varies, although usually takes a bit longer than it would using a food dehydrator. Using my oven set on 140 degrees with the convection setting, the above vegetables all took less than 6 hours to completely dry.
- Vegetables dried in the oven don’t have to be conditioned like dried fruits as they are dried until brittle, not leathery.
Drying Greens and Celery
- Many sources don’t recommend drying greens or celery, but I have always had good luck drying both. Celery doesn’t need to be blanched, just chopped and dried. Most greens, like spinach and arugula, also can be dried without blanching, much like drying herbs.
- Tougher greens like collard or Swiss chard should be lightly blanched before drying.
- Watch your drying greens closely! They may dry very quickly. Leave them for hours in the oven and you may end up with burned greens. Yuck.
Uses for Dehydrated Vegetables
- Make your own soup mixes.
- Add dehydrated vegetables to purchased soups.
- Use dehydrated vegetables when making casseroles.
- Dehydrated vegetables are perfect for camping or backpacking meals.
- Make your own vegetable powders from dried veggies. Vegetable powders can be used for:
- Broth powders
- Homemade pasta
- Adding nutrition to meals for picky children
Get More Ideas for Using Your Dried Veggies
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