How to Dehydrate Without a Dehydrator

By LeafTV Editor

Don't worry if you don't have access to a dehydrator; you can still dehydrate your foods without one. While you may not receive as consistent results when you don't use a dehydrator, you can easily dry foods without the expense of buying this appliance. There are a few different methods you can try, each of which requires just a little time and preparation. The heat and natural drying process do the rest.

Dried apricots in a copper bowl
credit: Tetiana_Chudovska/iStock/GettyImages
How To Dehydrate Without A Dehydrator

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Select foods at their best -- only use ripe, unblemished foods. Wash fruits and vegetables before drying.

Slice food items into pieces of uniform size and thickness so they dry evenly.

Treat light-colored fruits and vegetables with ascorbic acid before drying. Follow the instructions provided with the ascorbic acid product. Most preparations call for about 2 tbsp. of ascorbic acid per 1 qt. of lukewarm water. Place the foods directly in the solution and allow to soak for a few minutes.

Set your oven to its lowest setting -- usually the warm setting and always below 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your raw foods on a non-stick pan and place the pan in the oven. Keep the oven door propped open. Place a fan in front of the oven to keep the air circulating. Turn it on its lowest setting. Watch foods for signs of dehydration -- they should shrink in size, appear dry and feel leathery. Most foods dehydrate in about half the time it takes when using a traditional dehydrator.

Toaster Oven

Prepare foods as you would when oven drying. Select high quality foods and cut them into uniform sizes for even drying. Use an ascorbic acid solution, if desired.

Turn the thermostat on your toaster oven to its lowest setting.

Place your raw foods on the toaster oven pan.

Place the pan in the toaster oven and keep the door open. Place a fan in front of the oven to prevent water condensation. Check foods periodically; again they should dry quicker than if using a dehydrator.

Sun Drying

Wash fruits and vegetables before sun drying.

Cut the foods into uniform sizes with sharp knife so they dry evenly.

Treat lighter-colored fruits with an ascorbic acid solution, if you wish, before sun drying.

Place your raw foods on a pan and set them out in the sun to dry. If you have a large sunny window, try placing the foods in the window. This method takes a little more trial and error since the sun may be hotter than the temperature recommended for dehydrating. Try placing the pan of raw foods in different areas throughout your home or outside.