16 Facts You Should Know Before Dehydrating Food

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Dehydrating food is one of my favorite ways of preserving; I love it so much I’m teaching a class on dehydrating foods! So if you’ve got a dehydrator in the closet that you bought for just making jerky–get it out! Because let me tell you, it can do so much more than make jerky! There are 25 lessons in the dehydrating eCourse and only one of them is about making jerky. Yes, you read that correctly–25 classes, and I keep trying to make them short and sweet but they all at least 20 minutes long, most are a little more. Not to worry, they are not too long, most are under 30 minutes. I only mention this because there is so much more to dehydrating than jerky.

Maybe you don’t even have a dehydrator yet and are wondering if dehydrating is for you. I hope I can convince you to give it a try because it’s fun, easy and so versatile. You can build a complete food storage easily, quickly and safely.

Dehydrating is a very old method of food preservation. If you remove 90 to 95% of the water content from food then bacteria that aids in the decomposition process can’t survive. Your food is preserved in a sort of suspended state waiting for you to add the water back in order to nourish your body. Here are some important facts you should know about this great food preserving method.

Facts About Dehydrating Food

Easy To Do
Dehydrating is fun and easy. Most foods can be dehydrated and there aren’t a ton of rules you have to remember like other food preservation methods. There are techniques that help your food be at its best through the dehydrating process but it’s really hard to “mess up” when dehydrating.

Risk Factor Is Low
There is a risk factor with all preserved foods. After all, they are not fresh, so something had to make them safe to eat at a later time. The risk of your food not being safe to eat after you have preserved it is very low with dehydrating. There is also a low risk of your food not tasting good after you’ve dehydrated it, provided you’ve used the correct pre-treatment.

Dehydrating preserves more of a food’s natural enzymes than other forms of food preservation. Dehydrated food can be as nutritious as fresh food provided the food is dehydrated at low temperatures. This is especially handy for preserving herbs for natural remedies, since all of the herb’s healing properties can be preserved.

Light and Portable
Dehydrated food is light and portable. All the heavy water content has been removed so the food is super light. This makes stuffing it in a backpack, a bug out bag or a 72 hour kit a great choice. You can carry considerably more dehydrated food than fresh or other food preserved by a different method.

Easily Add Food To Your Food Storage
Since dehydrating is such an easy process you can quickly build up a food storage for whatever emergency might come along, or just for a rainy day.
Takes Up A Smaller Amount Of Space
Since dehydrated food is missing the water content, not only is it light and portable, but its size is greatly reduced. So your food storage takes up less space. This is great for people who don’t have a lot of storage space. Also, it can be stacked, unlike home-canned food.

Preserve Your Organic Garden
You worked hard on that organic garden. Dehydrating is a great way to preserve your harvest. You can simply put things in your dehydrator as they become ripe. You can dehydrate in large or small batches.

Unique Recipes
You can create some great-tasting recipes even if you’re not trying to build a food storage. Have you ever had homemade crunchy spiced corn or kale chips? They make great healthy snacks.

Less Running To the Grocery Store
This one is kind of a no-brainer if you have a food storage. But the thing is that sometimes you’d rather run to the store before opening a case, jar or can of something in your food storage. But when you dehydrate you can open almost any container, take a little out, and seal it back up with little or no trouble.

Uses A Minimum Amount Of Energy
Other forms of food preservation use a lot of energy either for the process itself (canning) or to maintain the environment (freezing). Dehydrating takes very little energy to process food and none to store it.

Dehydrated Food Is Easy To Cook With
Dehydrated foods are really easy to cook with. Most of the time you can throw them into soups or stews without even reconstituted them. Even if you need to rehydrate them for a recipe it usually only takes a quick soak in a bit of water.

Save A Ton Of Money Making Powders
Not only can you save a ton of money by preserving things from your garden but you can save a ton of money by not having to buy so many items from the spice isle. You can make your own garlic and onion powder. Dry your own basil and rosemary. You can even make some of your own spice powders like ginger and turmeric powder.

Equipment Is A Good Investment
A good dehydrator is not super cheap but it’s probably not the most expensive thing in your kitchen either. The thing is if you buy a good dehydrator (I recommend an Excalibur) then you’re likely to have it for years. They are excellent dehydrators and mine has paid for itself many times over.

Can Be Done In Any Location
You can dehydrate most any place on earth. All you need is either a bit of electricity or the sun. Sun Oven makes a dehydrating kit for their solar oven, and you always have the option of making your own solar dehydrator. So dehydrating is a great off-grid food preserving option.

Children Love It
Kids love bite-sized snacks, and dehydrating different foods can give them a variety of healthy snacks. They are no longer limited to just raisins. You can dehydrate most any food and kids love the sweet (most fruit is sweeter once it’s dehydrated) chewy bites.

Dehydrated Foods Can Be Stored At Room Temperature
Although any food will last longer the cooler, darker and dryer it stays, dehydrated food will last a good long while at room temperature as long as it stays dry. So that means you can store it in a closet or bedroom.

Did I leave any dehydrating facts out? What’s your favorite reason for dehydrating food?

  • Lyn says:

    Can I use a moisture absorber instead of an oxygen absorber in my dehydrated foods? I’ve just started dehydrating, and the one thing I hear is to be careful of moisture.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Lyn,
      No, you can’t use one instead of but you can use both if you like. They do different things.

  • Susan Trip says:

    Have you dehydrated mushrooms? Id really love to have them on hand!

  • Karin says:

    Recently started to dehydrate and found that tomato powder has been a GREAT addition to my cooking. Love dehydrating!

  • Kit says:


    I live in the tropics so storing things in a cool dry place is simply out of the question. Would storage be a problem?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Yes, it might be in the tropics. You can test to see how things will keep in a Mason jar with a desiccant package. That might be all you need.

  • Stephanie Dana says:

    Hi! I am new to dehydrating and would like to take your classes…. I was wondering if there is a charge? thank you

  • I have tried dehydrating a wide variety of things just to see what I think. Some foods that I do not like fresh I have like dried. I love pie cherries but not sweet cherries however I do like sweet cherries dried (except for Bing). Many dried fruits I eat as is.

  • chris says:

    Thanks for that.

  • chris says:

    I love dehydrating cucumbers into chips and apples, onions of all kinds, potatoes. You name it. I make enough to get me through the whole year. One garden season to the next.. And it is so easy. I love easy.

  • Ann lamport says:

    I am looking to dehydrate food for long term say 10 years is this possible with mylar bags and c02

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      It depends on the food. Some food will last that long and some types of food will not. The best way to build food storage is to rotate it so no food is stored for 10 years.

  • J S hurley says:

    My challenge is to become proficient in dehydrating real human food meals for my canine companion . There is a huge demand for “human grade” quality animal protein meals to replace the very high carbohydrate kibble. I would love to work with you to do such a booklet.

  • Betsy says:

    Would love to try bacon jerky ant thoughts?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Betsy, I don’t recommend turning meat with a high fat content into jerky. It’s not self stable.

      • Cheryl says:

        I tried dehydrating bacon last night because we bought a 20 pound box of pieces and they are very thick. We were woke up by our smoke alarm at 3 this morning. The whole house was smoked up. Dehydrators and bacon are not a good idea. Lesson leaned!

        • Jennifer Osuch says:

          Hi Cheryl,

          I’m so sorry to hear about your ordeal. You are correct, bacon and dehydrators are not a good idea. I’m not sure what happened in your case. I’m wondering what temperature you had the dehydrator set at.

          The reason you should not dehydrate bacon is that it has too much fat. You can’t successfully dehydrate food that has a lot of fat for long-term storage. You can make ready to eat high-fat recipes like kale chips. Then when you do decide to dehydrate meat (like when making beef jerky) you want to have very lean pieces of meat.

  • Tina says:

    Hi Jennifer, Have you dehydrated summer squash at all?

  • Kathy says:

    When looking into a dehydrator, an important fact that I learned the hard way was—-how the dehydrator was closed. Do the trays make up the front closing/door; is there a drop down door so that if you don’t have enough food to fill all 9 trays, can you still use the dehydrator? I bought a dehydrator that the tray fronts make the front closed off. But I really struggled to fill 10-trays to make it cost effective. Then I searched the fact that either a temperature control or a timer, well I wanted the option of it getting shut off, if I had to leave and to make sure it shut off. Most models are either or. You also want to try to get a dehydrator that the fan is at the back of the unit so that the air is blowing over all the trays, pretty much eliminating the need to rotate trays and losing any heat built up in the dehydrator. I hope this helps anyone looking to buy a dehydrator because I went thru a lot of research before settling on the ones I bought. I really started out with a $30.00 unit I bought at WalMart before going to bigger unit. I still use the round unit for fruit leathers and smaller quantity jobs.

  • Kathy says:

    After I can my tomatoes and removed the skins, I then lay the skins out flat on my dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 120-125* (degrees) till light and crisp. Then I either run them thru my herb grinder or food processor to get tomato powder. Have you priced what they are selling that stuff for? I use it to season and thicken soups and stews and to flavor my meals in jars. I love my dehydrators.
    Just finished dehydrating yellow squash, zucchini tomato skins and tomato slices. Tonight I have to dehydrate jalapeño peppers and the rest of my tomatoes. Next week it’s sweet potatoes, my first mite doing that.

  • Bruce says:

    Do you have to process or heat the jars in an oven etc. after dehydrating and vaccum sealing to kill off any bacteria?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Bruce,

      Yes, I usually freeze my dehydrated food for a few days to kill off bacteria. Although, it won’t kill all bacteria it will kill some along with insect eggs. I don’t use heat because that would damage any raw food that I have dehydrated.

      • Betsy says:

        After you freeze for a few days, you can then take the jars out and store them in a dry cabinet somewhere?

        • Jennifer Osuch says:

          Hi Betsy,

          That’s what I do, yes.

          • Carolyn Lawver says:

            Do i understand correctly, they are dehydrated. Then it goes into the freezer and out. Then on the shelf. Does the jars get some moisture in the freezer. What kind of lid do you have on the jar before it goes into the freezer.

          • Jennifer Osuch says:

            Yes, I condition dehydrated food in the freezer. Moisture does not get inside the jars in the freezer. I use the metal two-part lid.

  • Kathy says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I’m new at dehydrating and I’m interested to know how to dehydrate meat and how to store it.
    Thanks for your time 🙂


  • Mike the Gardener says:

    I took up dehydrating a few years ago and have become a “maniac” with it. I dehydrate just about everything. My favorite are dehydrated tomatoes, bananas and apples.

    I also will dehydrate all of the excess herbs that I harvest and use them throughout the year in various recipes.

    Not sure what you recommend as a viable dehydrating unit (I think Excalibur is the name I hear quite often), I went on the low end with a Nesco, and it works well for my uses without breaking the bank.

  • Deborah says:

    I love dehydrating fruits and veggies. Thank you for the classes!

  • Joy says:

    I have a question. I would like to sign up for the Dehydrating class. Will I have to complete the entire 25 classes in a month? Also, will I be able to print some of the notes or will I need to take down notes to be able to remember what you teach?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Joy,
      You can go at your own pace in the dehydrating eCourse. The course is designed for a pace of one video a week but you can go slower or faster if you prefer. Also there are printed materials with each lesson so you do not have to take notes. Simply print out the printed materials and you’ll have an at a glance reference.

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