The Best Foods to Dehydrate

By Kay Ireland

Dehydrating food is a good way to preserve food that spoils easily, like fruits or vegetables. It can be the perfect solution for storing your fresh food, which can then be used throughout the winter when those foods are no longer in season. Dehydrating food also means that you keep the valuable vitamins and nutrients in the food so that they are still beneficial. Some foods are better than others for dehydrating, but you can use trial and error to see what kinds of foods hold up to the dehydrator.

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Dried apricots.

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Bananas and Apples

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Dried fruit and nut trailmix.

Bananas and apples are perfect for dehydrating because they are both very fibrous foods. When being dehydrated, all of the moisture is removed from the food, which means that some water-based foods do not dehydrate well. However, bananas and apples have a low moisture content and lend themselves very well to being dehydrated. Just make sure that you cut them into uniform sizes for even drying.

Beef and Game

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Spanish style beef jerky on a skewer.

If you've ever had a satisfying piece of beef jerky, then you know how successful dehydrating beef can be. Making your own beef jerky at home is easy. Just choose the kind of meat that you like, and by pounding it out to thin strips, you can dehydrate the meat so that it dries thoroughly. Season it with some pepper and spices, and you'll have your own personal brand of inexpensive beef jerky.

Seasonal Vegetables

You may not immediately think of vegetables when deciding what to dehydrate. However, low moisture vegetables like carrots and peas can be dehydrated. This is a great way to save your backyard garden harvest in a particularly bountiful year. If you dehydrate in the fall, you'll have vegetables for muffins, breads, soups and stews throughout the winter.

Herbas and Spices

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Dry and fresh oregano on a cutting board.

If you have your own herb garden, then you know how much bay leaf, rosemary, oregano or mint can perk up a dish. While fresh herbs are best, you can use your dehydrator to make bottles of your own dried herbs to save you a trip to the grocery store when your herb plants aren't producing. Just make sure to put different herbs and spices on different racks, keep them separate and label them so as not to mix them.

Bread

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A bowl of croutons.

Do you have a few loaves of bread that might be getting close to staleness? Cube the bread and pop it into the dehydrator with some garlic and parsley. The dehydrator will remove all of the moisture from the bread, leaving you with delicious croutons to sprinkle over your salad.