Cut pieces of tofu on a plate

Dehydrating tofu leaves you with a nutritious, portable, shelf-stable food item that's ideal for use as a snack or main dish. The key to avoiding dehydrated tofu with the appeal of a piece of cardboard is to select the right type of tofu and season it with a marinade to infuse flavor into this protein-packed, bland ingredient.

Tofu has been around for thousands of years. It got its start in China and Japan, and over the centuries, it became a major protein source around the world. You can find it in major grocery stores, gourmet shops and ethnic markets. In general, you'll find four main varieties, including silken, soft, firm and extra-firm. Firm and extra-firm tofu contains less water, making them ideal options for making dehydrated tofu, according to The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook.

Drain the water the tofu is packaged in, pat the block dry and cut it into strips, slabs or chunks with a thickness of 1/4- to 1/2-inch. To help get the drying process started, press the tofu to remove as much moisture as possible. Lay the cut pieces of tofu on a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels. Place another layer of paper towels on top, along with another plate or baking sheet and a few heavy cans to weight it down. Let the tofu sit for approximately 30 minutes before proceeding.

If you have a dehydrator, grab it and get to dehydrating the tofu. If not, you can let your oven do the job for you. Arrange the tofu in a single layer on the dehydrator trays or on a baking sheet. Set the dehydrator to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oven goes that low, preheat it to 140 degrees F or the lowest possible setting. Tofu typically takes 6 to 10 hours in the dehydrator, and 8 to 12 hours in the oven. Turn the tofu pieces after 3 hours for even dehydrating. Once it's done, the tofu should have a leather-like texture.

Dehydrating extends the shelf life of this perishable food item, allowing you to store it for several weeks in a cool and dry spot. This makes it useful for traveling, camping or backpacking. Removing the water in the tofu also reduces the weight, leaving you with a lightweight product that's easy to pack without weighing you down. Eat it as a snack or rehydrate it for use in a meal. To rehydrate dried tofu, simmer it in water or broth for 20 minutes, or until the texture softens.