Dehydrating Quick Tip #3. Can you over dry food in a dehydrator?
We’ve all done it. That batch of fruit rolls usually takes just 4 to 6 hours to dry, but for some strange reason you’ve left them in the dehydrator for hours too long, and they are now crispy. Not exactly burned but certainly not able to be rolled up in any way, shape, or form. They might even be stuck to fruit leather trays, and you are unable to get them off. Can you reclaim them?
Probably not as fruit leather, but there are a few tricks you can try.
First, try placing a damp towel over the leather and see if it will absorb some moisture. Moisture will help it become pliable again, and the pieces should release from the trays.
Second, if adding moisture doesn’t work, they are not a total loss. The best option to still be able to use the food is to make sure it’s extra crisp and turn it into powder. You can use the same process as these instructions for making green powder or sweet potato powder. Fruit powder can be used in smoothies, to top yogurt, or added to spice blends. Use the vegetable powder in spice mixes and soups.
What happens to overly dried vegetables?
I have never actually seen food that has burned inside of a dehydrator. Even top of the line machines do not get hotter than 160F, and it would take many, many hours to burn something at that temperature. You would have to work very hard, or be very forgetful, to accomplish ruining the food.
If you have mistakenly overdried vegetables, they can seem like they are ruined, but they are probably fine. They will be rock hard and not look at all appealing, but that is the way most dehydrated vegetables look when they are completely dry. If you want to keep them for extended pantry shelf life, they do need to have all of the moisture removed.
Also, be sure that you are not comparing dehydrated food with freeze-dried food. Each type of food will have a completely different look and texture. Dehydrated vegetables will look shriveled and be very hard. They will click then you drop them on the kitchen counter. Freeze-dried food will look like it could be fresh and it will be light and airy.
Ultimately, extreme overdrying is often caused because you’ve used too high of a temperature for the food you want to dehydrate. For the best results, be sure to follow the recommended dehydrating temperatures and times from your recipe.
General drying temperatures:
- Jerky – 160F
- Fruit – 95 to 125F
- Vegetables – 100 to 135F
2 tricks to bring back overly dehydrated food
- For fruit rolls and pieces of fruit – Try placing a damp hand towel over the food and see if they will absorb enough water to make them pliable again.
- For vegetables – Try the damp towel trick, leave them as they are, or grind them and make vegetable powder for soups.
These tips are ONLY for food that has been dried in a dehydrating machine. If you tried dehydrating in your oven or convection oven, the results would be much different, and there is a high probablility that you did indeed burn the food and ruin that batch.
You will also find that food dried in an oven will have a burned smell. It and may have started to brown on the side that is facing the oven trays. A burned smell and browned food cannot be corrected with the trick mentioned above. Unfortunately, you will have to discard that batch.
What is your experience with dehydrating food, have you ever overdried it?