Self Reliance: Dehydrating

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Dehydration is a method of food preservation in which moisture (primarily water) is removed. Dehydration inhibits the growth of microorganisms and often reduces the bulk of food.

Dehydrating and Food Storage

Dehydrating is a good alternative or supplement to canning for produce preservation. Since the foods compact down in size and weight, you may find it easier to store in large quantities. Dehydrated foods also make great additions to 72 hour kits since they can pack a lot of calories and nutrition into a small space. When dried at low enough temperatures, the foods are considered “raw” still and therefore retain most of their nutrients (great news in emergency situations).

While you can purchase dehydrated foods in #10 cans from many different sources, it is so simple and easy to dehydrate your own that it is typically not worth the expense of buying them. We love the dehydrated foods we bought and can’t wait to make more of them on our own.

Benefits of Dehydrating

  • Enables you to store fruits and vegetables on the shelf for many years
  • Takes up less space than canned or frozen produce
  • Makes delicious snacks for camping, on the run, or any time
  • Helps you stock up when produce is on sale or ripe in your garden
  • Saves you time in the kitchen by not having to chop up veggies for recipes

More Information on Dehydrating


  • Candi

    Dehydrated watermelon and cantaloupe tastes like candy – sooo good and sweet.

  • Lori

    I don’t think I could live without my dehydrator! We put in a huge garden every summer and I use it for so many things, tomatoes, squash, okra, onions, peppers, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, blueberries, celery, onions, mushrooms (OK, so I don’t GROW all of those things!). One of my favorite uses for it is to dry summer squash. As many of you who garden know, summer squash is the gift that keeps giving and giving and giving. I both love and hate it. At first I froze a lot of it, but then learned to dehydrate it. Some I slice to use in casseroles (and it is wonderful for vegetable soups), and some I grate and dry (FABULOUS for baked goods).
    I would recommend putting a dehydrator on your wish list to help fill in some gaps in your food storage. Garden produce is “almost” free and the electricity you use to dehydrate it, IF you do large amounts (I run two dehydrators at once, mine and my mom’s), is negligible. Dried foods take a lot less storage space and weigh less, and many things rehydrate to close-to-fresh taste.

  • Anonymous

    Has anyone use tomatoe powder. I have found several recipes for this & am wanting to try it this coming year with all the garden tomatoes we get.

    • ShannonP

      You can use the tomatoe powder to make tomatoe paste. Its great in soups.

    • Lori

      I dried TONS of tomatoes last summer and powdered some. The powder is a great way to add a little tomato “blast” to anything you cook, soups, stews, scrambled eggs, you can even sprinkle some on salads in winter when real tomatoes are hard to come by.
      I sliced my tomatoes and just put them on the mesh trays. Even easier are the bazillions of cherry tomatoes we get. Wash them, cut once through the center (without separating the halves), and plop them in the dehydrator. As I said, I powdered some but kept a LOT of those exactly as dried…they are an addictive snack!

    • Dan S Sherwood

      We use it all of the time in soups and chili beans, add some paprika and dehydrated chilies from the garden and make enchilada sauce.

      • I use it to thicken spaghettis, soups, sauces, in enchilada sauce, and anything that calls for anything tomatoes!

  • Christianne

    How is your dehydrating plan coming together ladies? I just got my Excalibur after reading your blog and it’s been running around the clock since then (I only stop to reload)! What a great suggestion you gave 🙂

    I would love to know what you’re drying and how it’s working out for you.

    I’ve been doing apples lately but I’ve also had success with oranges, celery, peas, carrots, hashbrown potatoes, bananas, strawberries, red peppers, zucchini and corn.

    Happy drying!
    Ontario, Canada

    • I tried some Apricots and they failed a little. I’ve been too busy to try other stuff but now that canning is pretty much done I am going to get on it before the end of the year. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement!

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