You can do oven dehydrating! Even if you don’t have access to a dehydrator, oven dehydrating is a viable option for preserving food for your pantry and extending food storage.
Even if you don’t have a ronco dehydrator or don’t have the space in your home for one, oven drying (not to be confused with the unauthorized practice of putting products in jars with lids and baking them to ‘vacuum seal them’) can be a terrific way to preserve leftover groceries or garden produce.
Benefits of Oven Dehydrating
- Doesn’t require extra equipment. You likely already have cookie sheets and cooling racks in your kitchen tools.
- Allows you to create healthy snacks for your family without preservative additions in commercially dried foods.
- Can often be faster than drying with a dehydrator
- Can be an extra tool for those who do dehydrate by using the oven to do the last stage of drying while you start a new batch in your dehydrator
Drawbacks of Oven Dehydrating
- Cooks, doesn’t dry. Unless your oven has a true dehydrating feature, it likely can’t get low enough for recommended drying temperatures for try moisture removal as opposed to cooking.
- Takes up your oven when dinner might be necessary.
- Does not remove moisture – along with the first drawback, most ovens don’t have the means of remove moisture from the chamber without a fan.
- It is expensive – in the true cost of running an oven vs a dehydrator, the oven is much more expensive.
When you want to make snacks, oven dehydrating is a terrific option. Because you’re cooking more than drying, it can make items crisp when a dehydrator can’t.
Oven Dehydrating Tips
- First, perform a test. With an oven thermometer, check the actual temperature of your oven (not what the display says). Then, using the open door procedure outlined below, repeat the test to determine the exact temperature in your oven. This will assist you in making better judgments about how to proceed.
- Prop the door open with a wooden spoon, wooden block, oven-safe silicone glove, or spoon to allow moisture to escape.
- To help create airflow, remove moisture, and lower the temperature, position a fan outside the oven.
Safety Tip: PLEASE be mindful of small children or mobility-impaired individuals as this can be of great risk to them.
How To Do Oven Dehydrating
- Preheat oven to the appropriate temperature (as low as you can possibly go)
- Prepare your foods as you would any dehydrating process for the food you are using (including blanching, breaking the skin for berries, etc.)
- Place foods on a cookie sheet with a cooling rack to allow airflow, directly on the oven racks, or on parchment paper/silicone mats.
- Place in oven to begin drying
- Check once an hour and flip as necessary until done.
- Cool and check samples for appropriate dryness
- Store in airtight containment.
- Electric: Turn on your oven light and leave them on a tray with a cooling rack and allow them to sit overnight.
- Gas: Pilot light will serve as a mild heat source
Fruits and vegetables
Place on parchment paper or oven-safe silicone sheets, turn often for complete drying.
Most jerky can be done easily in the oven – just get them fully up to 160°F and thoroughly dried. These are not storable for long-term under modern safety guidelines and should be sealed and stored in the freezer to extend their life.
Dehydrating vegetables and fruits is an ideal way to reduce food packaging and make your food last. This is also practical for emergency storage and outdoor adventures. If you have a seasonal harvest, drying your fresh produce helps you store for the next season.
Dehydrating with convections ovens, if you have a convection oven, chances are it dehydrates – read your manual (or get it off the internet) to find out how.
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