Many of the vegetables that we grow here in the UK are great options when it comes to preserving them through dehydration. Dried vegetables make great snacks and drying vegetables is a great way of preserving them for long term storage to use in recipes after the harvest and also to use as snacks. Dried vegetables are nutritious, lightweight and easy to store. Dehydrating vegetables takes less energy than it does to freeze vegetables. You’ll also find that preserving vegetables by drying them adds fewer preservatives than storing them in pickles and relishes. Preserving vegetables by dehydrating them retains a lot of the flavour, taste and vitamins for a long time after you’ve harvested them. However, some vegetables are better for dehydrating than others. So here’s our guide to the best vegetables to dehydrate. In this article, I’ll cover the best vegetables to dehydrate that are grown in the UK as well as how to prepare vegetables for dehydrating and how to store your dried vegetables.
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Some vegetables are more suitable for dehydrating than others. And while dehydration isn’t the only way that vegetables can be preserved for the longer term, it is the quickest and easiest (aside from freezing of course!). Vegetables can also be preserved as relishes and pickles, but this method of preserving vegetables takes a lot longer, a lot more energy, work and processing to the vegetables.
Vegetables grown in the UK that are particularly suitable for dehydrating are potatoes, mushrooms, peas, beetroots, carrots, onions and courgettes.
All these vegetables can be dried in a standard oven, but it’s much more energy and cost-efficient to use a food dehydrator (read more about them here). I’ve also included the best vegetable dehydrators to use further in this article.
The Best UK Vegetables to Dehydrate
The primary reason for dehydrating vegetables is to extend the time you can eat them. Harvesting certain vegetables tends to happen over quite a short time – especially with vegetables like courgettes, which tend to come in gluts.
Dehydrating your vegetable harvest means that you can enjoy it for months after harvest time. The best vegetables to dehydrate are those that you don’t have the scope to eat fresh!
The Best Home-grown Vegetables to Dehydrate
In this section, I’m including details of the best home-grown – in the UK environment – vegetables to dehydrate. While softer vegetables like onions, mushrooms and tomatoes do not need to be prepared before drying, other vegetables benefit from being blanched before being dehydrated. This helps to prevent discolouration and helps the vegetables retain flavour for longer.
Peruvians have been dehydrating potatoes for centuries and rehydrating them even decades afterwards when there’s no fresh produce available. Dehydrated potatoes don’t tend to make good snacks (you shouldn’t be thinking crisps, those as baked or fried potatoes), as they’ll be a little too hard for snacking. Dehydrated potatoes work best when you rehydrate them in meals, as they soften in dishes that have long simmer times or in soups that cook for a while.
To prepare potatoes for dehydrating you’re best peeling them and then cutting them into either 1.5cm to 2cm cubes or slices (like you’d prepare them for dauphinoise potatoes). You’ll need to steam or boil them for 10 minutes and once they’ve drained and cooled place them in the dehydrator. Potatoes will take at least 6 hours to dehydrate and they will be hard when dry.
Dehydrated mushrooms have been used for centuries and mushrooms are one of the easiest vegetables to dry. They do not need to be pre-treated before drying and only take around 5 hours to dehydrate. Brush off the dirt – there’s no need to wash, just brush gently with a piece of kitchen roll or a soft cloth. Cut the end of the stalk off if it’s hard and then cut the mushrooms into 1.5cm slices. You can also cut into chunks, but they will take longer to dehydrate. Mushrooms will take 5-8 hours to dehydrate and they will be dry and leathery. To rehydrate dried mushrooms simply soak in boiled water for 10-15 minutes.
Courgettes are a great vegetable to dehydrate for snacking and as courgettes tend to be ready in gluts dehydrating is a great way to preserve courgettes. You can dehydrate courgettes to use as snacks or to use in future meals. Wash the courgette and remove any damaged parts. You don’t need to peel courgettes before drying them. If you’re dehydrating courgettes for snacks then you’ll want to cut them into 1cm slices, you’ll want them to be crispy when dried. If you want to use the courgette in future recipes or soups, then cut them a little bigger and then quarter the slices. Courgettes will take at least 7 hours to dehydrate.
Peas are a great vegetable to preserve these fabulous vegetables. You can dehydrate garden peas and sugar snap peas. You’ll need to blanch peas before dehydrating and be sure to pop them into an ice bath immediately after to ensure the peas don’t keep cooking. Peas will need at least 5 hours to dehydrate and you should check and move them around after 2 hours to ensure that the drying is even. When garden peas are dried they will be dried and wrinkly. Sugar snap peas will become brittle and dark when dried. To rehydrate dried peas you’ll need to soak them in hot water for around an hour, or you can soak them overnight in cold water.
While I love fresh beetroots and pickled beetroots, dehydrating beetroots is also a fabulous way to preserve them. You’ll want to make sure that all the pieces of beetroot that you dry are of the same size so that they dry uniformly. You’ll want to cook the beetroots, as in this guide here, peel them and then slice them thinly. Beetroots will take at least 8 hours to dehydrate. Once dry, store your beetroot slices either in vacuum bags, sealable plastic bags or jars that are airtight.
Dehydrated carrots are a great snack and another vegetable that requires blanching before dehydrating. Wash and scrub the carrots to clean them and cut off the top and tail. Then you can either cut the carrots into 4-5cm sticks or circles. Blanch or steam them for 5-6 minutes – then plunge into an ice bath. This will help the carrots to retain their colour after dehydration. Once the carrots are cool then you can put them into the dehydrator. They’ll need at least 6 hours to dry. Dehydrated carrots will be pliable, with a texture like leather.
Onions are a great vegetable to store for the long term by dehydrating. Dehydrated onions can be used in a variety of recipes as onion powder, chopped dried onions and dehydrated onion flakes. You can substitute dried onions for fresh onions in many, many recipes and it means that they’ll last a whole lot longer. Prepare onions for dehydrating by peeling off the outer later and either slicing or dicing. The smaller the pieces of onions the quicker they will dry. I aim to dice the onions into 2-4 cm pieces. All layers of onions should be separated so that they’re not overlapped. There’s no need to pre-treat onions before dehydrating. Move the pieces of onion around every two hours to both speed up the drying and stop them from sticking. Be aware that the onions may stick to the trays of your dehydrator and they’re likely to smell and cause the trays to smell. To get rid of the smell of onions on the tray you’ll need to scrub with warm soapy water and then rub with lemon juice. Onions take at least 4 hours, but up to 10 hours to dehydrate.
What are the Best Vegetable Dehydrators?
I wrote a comparison of the UK’s best food dehydrators, which you can read here – but here’s an overview of which dehydrators are great for drying vegetables.
|Food Hydrator Name||Highlights||What It Looks Like||Read Reviews & Buy Now!|
|Excalibur Food Dehydrator||• 9-Tray dehydrator, 15 square feet of drying space|
• Built-in on/off switch and adjustable thermostat with 26-hour timer
• Easy to clean Polyscreen tray inserts
• 7-inch fan, 600 watts, voltage: 110-120V
• Unit Dimensions: 12-1/2 H x 17 W x 19 D (inches)
|Check prices and buy now|
|BioChef Arizona||• Digital Display: 19.5 Hour Timer|
• Adjustable Thermostat: 35º to 70ºC
• 9x Stainless Steel Drying Trays + 100% BPA Free inner- and outer casing
• 3x Non-Stick Sheet, 3x Fine Mesh Sheet & 3x Drip Tray
• Superior horizontal airflow for even & consistent drying of foods & no flavour contamination between the trays
• 3 years warranty on motor & parts - UK service & support centre
|Klarstein Fruit Jerky 6||• Temperature and timer setting gives even dehydration as the fan circulates warm air|
• Adjustable display on the upper surface.
• Adjustable temperature from 35-70°C.
• Adjustable timer from 0:30 - 19:30 hrs
|Check Prices here|
|MisterChef Circular Food Dehydrator||Temperature- setting. easy to clean plastic trays and lid|
On/off switch on the unit base.
Settable temperature from 35-70°C.
|Buy the best Circular food dehydrator here|
|Cooks Professional Budget Food Dehydrator||• 5 tier design means you can preserve varieties of food simultaneously|
• Instruction manual included with drying time guidelines
• The 240W dehydrator has a timer that can be set between 1 and 72 hours with an adjustable temperature of between 35°C and 70°C
• Measures W33.5cm x D26cm x H27.5cm when all 5 trays are stacked together.
• If only one tray is used, the height is 14.5cm
|Buy the best budget food dehydrator|
Pre-treating Vegetables before Dehydrating
Some vegetables should be blanched before it-s dehydrated. This pre-treatment will help to prevent loss of colour but also prevent mould and damage after it’s been dried.
How to Store Dehydrated Vegetables
You’ll need to wait until your dried vegetables are completely cool. They will last longest if you store them in an airtight container. So a plastic ziplock bag with the air squeezed out of it tends to work the best. Place your container of dried vegetables in a cool, dry place. Dried vegetables will last for about a year if stored under the right conditions.
Final Words on the Best Vegetables to Dehydrate
Drying vegetables is a fabulous way to be able to savour the taste and flavour long past harvest season. And luckily, many of the vegetables that we grow here in the UK are great options for dehydrating. You’ll get fabulous lightweight, easy to store and nutritious vegetables year-round. Let us know how you get on dehydrating vegetables and what for you are the best vegetables to dehydrate are!