To dehydrate food in the oven, preheat it to the lowest temperature with the door propped open to promote airflow. Prepare food by laying out small, thinly-sliced pieces in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Dehydrate until the food is completely dried, flipping the pieces to ensure even drying.
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How to Use Your Oven to Dehydrate Food
You can make all kinds of dried foods using an oven. The process is the same whether you’re making dried fruits, veggies, or jerky.
- Cut your food into thin, uniform pieces. Aim for no more than 1/4-inch thick.
- Take a baking sheet or cookie sheet and cover it with a layer of parchment paper.
- Lay your sliced food on the baking sheet in a single layer to ensure even drying, and make sure none of the pieces are overlapping or touching.
- Set the oven temperature to the lowest setting. If you have an oven thermometer, it is a good idea to hang it inside the oven to monitor the temperature because oven temperatures fluctuate.
- Place your food in the oven. If you have only one baking sheet, try to center it on the center rack. If you have more than one, you should rotate the sheets every half hour or so to ensure even drying.
- Prop the oven door open to help with air circulation and allow moisture to escape. This can be done with a wooden spoon.
- Keep an eye on the food you’re dehydrating to ensure it doesn’t burn. Check on it every half hour, and flip the food pieces as needed to ensure even drying.
- Once your food is completely dried, remove the tray from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Allow the food to cool to room temperature. If moisture forms on the food, dab it away with a paper towel.
- Once the food is at room temperature, place the pieces in an airtight container to extend their shelf life. It is a good idea to label any dehydrated goods with the date and the contents of the container for future reference.
- Store your dehydrated food containers in a cool, dark, dry room for long-term storage.
Tips for Oven Dehydrating
Here are some helpful tips and things to keep in mind while dehydrating in an oven:
- Flip the food throughout the drying process because moisture can easily get trapped.
- If you have multiple pans, space them apart. This ensures that there is airflow around the food, which is key to the drying process.
- Ovens often have ‘hot spots’ – parts of the cavity that get to a higher temperature than others. Rotate your pans every hour to counteract this.
Prepping Food for Oven Drying
Most foods will need some type of preparation before dehydration. Here are a few important tips for preparing food for the oven:
- All fruits and vegetables should be rinsed, and the inedible portions should be removed. This includes leaves, stems, and seeds.
- After rinsing fruit or vegetables, dab them dry with a paper towel. The less moisture they contain, the easier they will dehydrate.
- Certain types of fruits (such as apples) will need to be soaked in an ascorbic acid solution for 10 minutes or tossed in lemon juice before dehydrating to prevent the browning that occurs when they are exposed to oxygen.
- When dehydrating meat, it is important to choose a lean cut and to remove as much of the fat as possible because fat makes the drying process less successful.
Useful Tools and Equipment for Oven Drying
It is a good idea to know what type of preparation is needed before you begin the dehydrating process and ensure you have all the tools and items necessary to do it.
Some common utensils and equipment for oven drying include:
- Airtight containers such as Mason jars, vacuum-seal bags, or Mylar bags
- Baking sheets or cookie sheets
- Parchment paper
- Sharp knife or mandolin
- Vitamin C powder or equivalent (Ascorbic acid or lemon juice)
Do You Need to Blanch Food Before Oven Drying?
Blanching is the process of scalding food in hot water or steaming it for a short period before shocking it in an ice water bath.
Most vegetables should be blanched as part of the dehydration process. This destroys enzymes within the veggies that would otherwise survive being dehydrated. These enzymes accelerate spoiling and reduce the quality of your dried veggies!
Most vegetables should be blanched for 4-6 minutes. Some larger, starchy vegetables, such as beets and sweet potatoes, require a little longer.
Most fruits and meat should not be blanched before dehydrating.
How Long Does it Take to Dehydrate in the Oven?
Drying times vary depending on the type of food you’re dehydrating and the oven. The dehydrating process for most foods takes between 6 and 10 hours.
Below is a quick guide for how long it takes to dehydrate some common foods in an oven:
|Type of Food
|7 – 15 hours
|20 + hours
|6 – 10 hours
|10 – 15 hours
|6 – 10 hours
|12 – 14 hours
|4 – 6 hours
|Herbs and Spices
|2 – 4 hours
|4 – 6 hours
|3 – 7 hours
|6 – 14 hours
|7 – 11 hours
Should You Leave the Oven Open When Dehydrating?
Yes, you should prop the oven door open when dehydrating food. This is because a key part of the drying process is ensuring good air circulation. It is best to prop open the door using a wooden spoon or similar instrument.
Can You Dehydrate in a Regular Oven?
Yes, you can dehydrate food in a regular oven. However, convection ovens are the best type of oven for drying produce.
This is because the fan and heating elements, which are located at the back of a convection oven, help to promote airflow and ensure good air circulation throughout the oven cavity.
Convection ovens also have a better range of lower temperature settings. They are more energy efficient than standard ovens, which is great for your wallet if you’re dehydrating food for several hours at a time.