Although fleshy and juicy, red beets are easy to dehydrate into dry beet chips that can be stored as is or ground into dry beetroot powder. You can dry your beets in the sun, food dehydrator, or kitchen oven before storing them in airtight containers for up to one year.
After an indulgent trip to the local farmers’ market or a bountiful harvest from your garden, you may have surplus red beets you want to preserve to avoid waste.
The good news is that you can make beetroot powder from ground dry beets or store them as dried beets ready for reconstitution.
This handy guide will teach you how to dry beets and make beetroot powder from one of the best-pigmented root vegetables in your kitchen.
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Best Methods to Dry Beets
You can dry these versatile veggies in three ways—in the sun, in an oven, or in a food dehydrator. Check out below how to dry your beets using each method.
To dry beetroots in the sun, follow the steps below:
- Prepare the beets by washing them in cold water and scrubbing them to remove the soil.
- Use paper towels or kitchen cloths to pat the beets dry.
- Use a sharp knife to peel the beets before cutting them into thin slices measuring 1/8-1/4 inches.
- Arrange the slices in one layer on a rack and angle the rack so it doesn’t lay flat. This is to prevent moisture from collecting beneath the sliced beets.
- Cover the rack using mesh fabric to allow circulation of heat and air and keep away pets and dust.
- Leave the beets directly in the sun for 4 hours.
- Check to see that the tops of the beets are dry. If they are, turn them to dry the bottom side for four hours.
- If the beets are fully dry on both sides, collect them from the rack for cooling and immediate storage. If they aren’t, take them indoors to stay there overnight before repeating the drying process the following day when the sun rises.
How to Dry Beets in an Oven
Drying beets in the oven is easy, whether you have a conventional oven or a convection one.
Below are the steps for oven-drying beetroots:
- Prepare the beets by cleaning, drying, and slicing them into thin, uniform pieces.
- Set the oven to the lowest temperature, usually 125°F or 150°F.
- Place the oven rack in the middle position of the oven for even heat distribution.
- Arrange the beet slices in one layer on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet or parchment paper. Ensure the pieces have a 1/4-inch space between them for proper heat and air circulation.
- Dry the beets for 8-10 hours. If your oven is conventional, open the door slightly to promote the circulation of air and moisture removal.
- Check their progress every few hours and more toward the end of the drying time to ensure your beets do not get burned.
- Remove the beets upon drying and allow them to cool before storing.
How to Dry Beets in a Dehydrator
To dry your beets in a food dehydrator, follow the steps outlined below:
- Wash, dry, and cut the beets into thin easy-to-dry slices.
- Set your dehydrator to 120°F.
- Place the beet slices on drying trays in single layers with 1/4-inch spaces between them.
- Put the loaded dehydrator trays in the dehydrator and let the beets dry for 8 hours.
- Check the progress at the four-hour mark and flip the beets to promote even drying.
- If the beets aren’t fully dry after 8 hours, leave them to dry for a few more hours. Keep checking the progress every hour.
- Remove the dried beets from the dehydrator and allow them to cool before storage.
Useful Tools for Drying Beets
Depending on your preferred drying method, you’ll need the following tools and equipment to dry your beets.
For all drying methods, the following items should be used:
- Coffee grinder (if you choose to make beet powder)
- Cutting board
- Gloves (you’ll want to avoid beet juice stains)
- Labels and pen/marker for labeling the storage containers
- Paper towels or kitchen cloths for drying the beets
- Pressure cooker/stovetop if you choose to prep the beets using heat before drying
- Sharp knife or mandolin slicer for slicing the beets evenly
- Small kitchen brush for scrubbing the beets when cleaning
- Storage vessels such as airtight containers or vacuum-sealing bags
- Timer to keep track of the drying process.
For the food dehydrator method:
- A food dehydrator, complete with dehydrating trays
For the oven-drying method:
- An oven, complete with oven racks
- Baking sheets or parchment paper
- Baking tray
For the sun-drying method:
- Drying rack
- Mesh fabric
How to Prepare Beets for Dehydrating
You’ll find different opinions when it comes to preparing beets for drying.
Washing and Trimming Beets
Some people simply wash the beets, cut off the unwanted material on both ends, and then slice or dice the beets without peeling them.
People who prefer drying the beets unpeeled say they retain more nutritional value this way, while those that peel the skin say they do so to avoid the bitterness of the skin.
Whether you peel your beets or not, ensure you wash them thoroughly in cool water. Use a brush to clean them until all soil is removed. Cut off the green top and the roots at the bottom before slicing the beets using a mandolin slicer or sharp knife.
Blanching and Pre-cooking Beets
Some people prefer to use a blanching technique or pressure cooking the beets before drying. Whether you should blanch or not depends on what method you use to dry beets.
If you choose to blanch your beets before drying, note that this will significantly increase their drying time. Do not blanch your beets if you will dry them in the sun or an oven. Blanching will add extra moisture to the beets, and a food dehydrator is the best way to get the extra moisture out.
If you want to blanch or par-cook your beets and use a dehydrator, you have two options.
The first option is to wash the beets without the greens and roots. Blanch the whole beets in boiling or simmering water for 3-5 minutes. Remove the beets from the heat and toss them in cold water in a bowl or under running water. Rub off the skin using paper towels or kitchen cloth. You can also peel them with a knife. Cut into desired slices.
The second option is to wash the beets and boil them whole or pressure-cook them for a few minutes.
If you use a pressure cooker, pour 1 cup of water on the cooker’s inner pot and hold the whole beets in the rack or basket for a 5-minute cook time under high pressure while releasing the pressure immediately. Subject the hot beets to a cold water bath and rub off the skin before slicing.
Once cool, you can arrange your beet slices on food dehydrating trays in your food dehydrator.
How to Make Beetroot Powder
To make beetroot powder, grind the dried beet slices into a fine powder in a coffee grinder, powerful food processor, or high-speed blender.
Beetroot powder can be added to soups and smoothies and is a great way of adding nutrition while also making the earthy flavor of beets less perceivable.
How to Make Dehydrated Beet Chips
The process of drying fresh beets results in dehydrated beet chips. It requires slicing the beets into thin chips, similar to potato chips or crisps. The dried chips are edible without seasoning them, but the flavor will be bland.
The simplest spice to add to dried beet chips is salt. Put the chips in a large bowl and sprinkle some sea salt or ordinary table salt on them. Sprinkle a tiny bit of water or vinegar on the chips, just enough to dissolve the salt for the chips to absorb without getting soggy.
Allow them to sit for 15-20 minutes. Drain or blot off any excess moisture.
Once dry, add some oil (such as avocado or olive oil) to the bowl and toss the chips to coat them thoroughly. Bake the oiled chips in the oven at 300°F for 40-60 minutes. Flip them over after 30 minutes to ensure even baking. Now you have a flavorful and healthy snack!
What is the Texture of Dry Beets?
Dry beets are crunchy and brittle. They break easily when you squeeze them between your fingers. If they bend when squeezed, they aren’t completely dry.
What do Dry Beets Taste Like?
Dry beets retain the earthy, slightly sweet flavor of raw beets.
How Long Does it Take to Dry Beets?
The time it takes to dry beets varies depending on the drying method used. Assuming a uniform prep time of 15-30 minutes for cleaning and cutting, you can expect the following time frames:
- 8-10 hours or more when sun-drying.
- 8-10 hours in a convection oven or 20-24 hours in a standard oven at 125°F or 150°F.
- 8 hours in a food dehydrator at 120°F, without pre-cooking them.
- 16-20 hours in a food dehydrator at 130°F if you prepped the beets by blanching.
What are the Nutritional Benefits of Dry Beets?
Dry beets and other healthy dehydrated foods have many health benefits. They are vegan and have little saturated fat.
Dry beets are a superfood and are a good source of potassium, folate, calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, nitrates, and protein. These plant-based nitrates are healthy. They contain antioxidants and convert into nitric oxide.
The natural pigment in dried beets adds natural color to food when reconstituted or crushed into beet powder, allowing you to avoid using chemical dyes to color food.
According to research published in the Public Library of Science journal, dry beets contain vulgaxanthin and betanin, which are phytonutrients that have detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
The study shows that the betanins in dehydrated beets reduce the growth of tumor cells by inhibiting pro-inflammatory enzymes. This and other studies suggest that betalains and betanins in dry beets can help treat and prevent certain types of cancers.
Dry beets can also help manage erectile dysfunction. The nitrates in dry beet chips and beetroot powder are good for the heart. They help regulate blood pressure and enhance the flow of blood and oxygen to various body parts. This may help manage erectile dysfunction.
Storage and Shelf Life of Dehydrated Beets
The best way to store dry beets is to keep them in vacuum-sealed bags or containers at room temperature in a cool, dry, and dark place. When stored this way, the shelf-life will be 1 year.
Some dehydrating enthusiasts say vacuum-sealed dry beets can stay for over 30 years.
If you store your dry beets in airtight containers such as labeled glass jars or mason jars, you can expect them to stay usable for 1-12 months. Keep the jars in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Avoid storing dry beets in a fridge or freezer where the risk of moisture reabsorption is high.
5 Exciting Ways to Use Dried Beets
Once you have prepared your fresh beets, dried them, and stored them, it’s time to enjoy them in various recipes. Here are some fun ideas to use your dried beets!
This recipe involves adding flavor to dried beets by coating them with a mixture of lemon zest, black pepper, cinnamon, salt, and dark brown sugar. The coated chips are then baked until crisp and eaten immediately or stored in airtight containers.
Add beetroot powder into smoothies to add the characteristic red color and earthy, slightly sweet flavor of red beets. The sweetness of the pineapple and bananas in this recipe offsets the earthy flavor of beetroot. To kick up the nutrients in this smoothie, consider adding kale powder alongside your beet powder!
Using dried beets, you can make your own homemade natural red food color. All you have to do is grind the dried beet slices into beet powder and add them to your food. You can add natural red color to cake frostings, glazes, and sauces!
Although this recipe uses fresh beets, you can use dry beets or beetroot powder to make this incredible side dish for Indian dishes, such as paneer butter masala, rajma, and dal makhani.
Substitute the fresh beets in this recipe by rehydrating your dehydrated beets. Add them to this incredible, heart-healthy salad which can serve as a nutritious side dish or a meal on its own! The apple cider, lime, and herb dressing will dazzle your tastebuds.