There has been a dehydrator in my home for years, but until recently it sat quietly on a shelf collecting dust.
Canning has always been my go-to vegetable preservation method, but lately, I have been in love with dehydrating my food and even MORE obsessed with making homemade dehydrated vegetable powders.
Dehydrating vegetables and fruits isn’t difficult or a new form of food storage. In fact, it was one of the first forms of preservation, dating back centuries. Today, dehydrated vegetables can be made into dehydrated vegetable powder that can be stored as-is in an airtight container for extended periods of time.
There are plenty of articles out there these days about making dehydrated powders, but they miss some important steps that are necessary to get your powders to stay fresh and to not get clumpy.
To help you out, I created this step-by-step guide to not only show you how to condense your produce even more by grinding it into a dehydrated vegetable powder, but also how to keep your dehydrated powders good for longer and prevent them from getting clumpy.
I started my obsession with making dehydrated powders after talking to Darci from The Purposeful Pantry on my podcast. You can listen in to our conversation about them here:
After that fantastic interview, I started making dehydrated vegetable powders for my own home and when I got good at it, I made it one of our monthly projects for my homesteading group called Project Homestead. If you would like to pore through my materials and learn how to make dehydrated foods, including vegetable powders, with videos and in-depth instructions, check out Project Homestead here. If you join, you get access to ALL of the materials we have covered so far, including: dehydrated foods, fermenting foods, food storage, and more.
What are Vegetable Powders?
These are powders made from vegetables that have been dried in a dehydrator and then ground down into a fine powder. You can use just about any vegetable to make your dehydrated vegetable powder; it’s really fun to come up with different blends of vegetable powders to use in creative from-scratch cooking in the kitchen.
Why You Should Consider Making Dehydrated Vegetable Powder
Vegetable powders are a great addition to add to your list of ways to preserve your food. There are a ton of reasons you should consider adding them to your preservation methods:
Minimal Storage Space Needed – Dehydrating condenses large amounts of vegetables/fruits into smaller portions that reduce the amount of storage space you will need.
Added Nutritional Value – Powdered fruits and vegetables are not a substitute for your daily intake amount, but they can be used to add extra nutrients to existing dishes or foods.
Added Spice or Taste – Powders can be added to different dishes or foods to add additional spices or flavors. (We have been enjoying popcorn with mushroom powder these days)
Natural Food Coloring – Powdered Fruits and vegetables have been used throughout history to create different colors in foods and dyes for garments.
Inexpensive Seasonings – You can dehydrate vegetables to make common kitchen seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, or chili powder.
DIY Salt Mixes – Dehydrate your vegetables and combine them with your salt, this way you can control the amount of salt in your combinations. (Celery salt is a great example of this)
Soup Thickeners – Vegetable powders can be used to help thicken your soups and add an extra flavor boost along the way.
Dehydrated Vegetable Stock Powders – You can use just about any mixture of dehydrated vegetable powders to create a yummy vegetable broth. You will have vegetable stock on-hand with a minimal amount of storage space.
How to Dehydrate Vegetables for Vegetable Powder
Like all forms of preserving vegetables, there is a process, fortunately though, dehydrating isn’t a difficult one. One important part for easy dehydrating is having a good food dehydrator. I have used an Excalibur Dehydrator for many years and it’s a great one. However, I recently switched to this Sedona Dehydrator, and I’m totally in love with it.
My Sedona dehydrator is a power horse with tons of shelves (11!), and a greater temperature range (77-167!), than I’ve found anywhere else. I love the glass door, the stainless steel racks, and the interior light. Bonus: it takes up a small footprint on my counter and is super quiet when it’s running. So if you are looking for a great-quality food dehydrator to amp up your food preservation, check them out!
Bonus: it can also be used to culture yogurt and give new life to stale cookies and crackers (seriously).
I show you a closer look at my Sedona dehydrator in this video, in case you wanted to see it and how it worked for me:
Step #1: Choosing Vegetables For Dehydrated Vegetable Powder
When it comes to deciding what vegetables to use for dehydrated vegetable powder, it isn’t really a matter of what you should use but what vegetables you would like to use. The sky’s the limit when it comes to making vegetable powders.
When you are choosing your vegetables, there are a few things that you should keep in mind:
- The vegetables you choose for making dehydrated vegetable powder don’t have to be at the peak of their freshness. You can use what you have at the time.
- Dehydrating will not change or improve the quality of the vegetables you have chosen. The vegetable you start with will be a crispy version of itself when done.
- Vegetables that have been damaged or bruised can still be dehydrated. Remove the damaged parts and they will be ready to go.
- Dehydrating vegetables is more forgiving than other food storage options. It is very hard to end up with bad end results.
If you still aren’t sure what vegetable you want to make into a powder first, I would recommend starting with making garlic powder, onion powder, or tomato powder. Of course you could try any one of the vegetables here:
Step #2: Preparing Your Vegetables for Dehydration
Once you have decided what vegetable to dehydrate, now it is time to prep them for the dehydrator trays. Preparing your vegetables can be as simple as washing and slicing, but there are other things like pretreatment and cracking that take place during this step.
Pretreating Your Vegetables/Fruits
Most of the time, pretreating is completely optional. It is a step that is used to preserve the color, texture, or taste of the vegetables. The pretreating step is when you will use citric acid dip or blanch your vegetables.
Dipping certain things in Citric Acid or Lemon Juice can help prevent color loss. It keeps lighter fruits from turning brown during the dehydration process.
Blanching is when you scald your vegetables in boiling water for a 1-2 minutes and then quickly submerge them in an ice bath. This process of pretreatment is used to help the vegetables keep their color, texture, and taste.
Benefits of Pretreating:
Color – Pretreating your vegetables will give them a more appealing color on the shelf.
Taste and Texture – Pretreating your vegetables or fruits can slow down the enzyme activity that causes their taste and texture to change over time.
Dehydrating Process Speed – Pretreating can help break down tissues in some vegetables speeding up the dehydration process.
Reconstitution Time – If you choose to pretreat your vegetables, it could help speed up the rehydration process by 10 0r 20 minutes (which doesn’t really matter for making powders, but can be helpful for when you just want dehydrated food for storage).
Again, keep in mind pretreating is an optional step when you are preparing your vegetables for dehydration. If you are short on time, or you don’t care about potential color-fading, or if you are worried about the possibility of additional nutritional loss, then don’t worry about pretreatment.
If you are dehydrating certain types of fruit, cracking might be a necessary step to your food preparation. Cracking (also known as checking) is used when you are dehydrating any thick-skinned fruits (cherries, blueberries, grapes) where the moisture is trapped inside the skin.
There are three different ways to crack/check your fruit: you can poke them with a pin, boil them, or freeze them before dehydrating.
Three Ways to Crack Fruit
Poke with a Pin – As you are putting your fruit on the trays use a sharp pin to poke a hole in the skin. Make sure each fruit has been pricked, the hole will allow the moisture to escape while dehydrating.
Boil then Cool – Submerge your fruit into boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove and immediately dip them in cold water. The quick change in temperature should split the skins. Leave your fruit out to dry and then start dehydrating.
Freeze – Freezing causes fruit to expand and cause the skin to split. Thaw your frozen fruit, allow them to dry, and place them in the dehydrator.
Slicing Your Vegetables or Fruits For Dehydrating
After washing and pretreating, it is time to slice your fruit/veggie and load up the dehydrator trays. When you are slicing your vegetables/fruits, you will want your slices to be as thin as possible and consistently sliced. Thinner slices will speed up the dehydration process. Slice consistency will make sure that all of your slices are done at the same time.
Step #3: Dehydrating Your Vegetables/Fruits
Using a Dehydrator
There are all kinds of dehydrators (I love my Sedona Dehydrator), there are simple flip-a-switch ones and large programmable ones. All dehydrators have one main purpose and that is to remove moisture from your vegetables or fruits, it doesn’t matter what kind you have as long as it gets the job done.
Note: The quality of your food dehydrator can reduce the amount of drying time your vegetables/fruits will need.
If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can use your oven. You will need to set at its lowest temperature, with the oven door open and constant supervision (because we want to dry the veggie/fruit and not cook it).
How Long Does it Take to Dehydrate Vegetables/Fruits?
Once your trays are in and your dehydrator is running, it can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours to completely dry your produce. There are many factors that can affect your drying time.
Things That Can Affect Your Dehydrating Time Include:
- The thickness of your food slices
- Type of vegetables/fruits being dehydrated (some contain more liquid than others)
- Quality of Your Dehydrator
All of these things can speed up or slow down your dehydrating process; and because there are many different variables, it is best to check your dehydrator every few hours. A trick to help evenly dry your produce is to rotate your trays at least once during the dehydration process.
The more you dehydrate fruits and vegetables, the easier it will be for you to determine how long it will take for each to dry in your dehydrator and home.
How to Tell when Your Vegetable/Fruit is Done
Preparing your produce and loading your dehydrator are pretty straightforward simple steps, but knowing when your food is done can take practice. You can tell when fruits and vegetables are done by the way they feel and if there is any visible moisture.
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables will be slightly different in texture when they are done.
- Fruits will be pliable when done: they will not be brittle but they will have a leathery feel. Fruit should be dried until you see no remaining moisture.
- Vegetables should be dried until completely brittle: they will dry and break apart easily when touched.
There are ways you can test for moisture if you are unsure about the doneness. You can use the glass jar test, the squeeze test, or the ceramic bowl test. Making sure all the moisture is gone is important will prevent molding of your final product.
Glass Jar Test
If you think that your produce is done dehydrating, you can check by taking a few from a tray and immediately placing them in an air-tight glass jar with the lid on. Doing this will trap any leftover moisture and it will appear on the sides of the jar. If moisture appears, then your fruits/vegetables, then need more drying time.
When performing the squeeze test you will allow your fruits to cool to room temperature, and then put them in your hand and squeeze. You will be looking for any moisture on your hand and if the fruits stick together. More dehydrating time is needed if either of these things happens.
Ceramic Bowl Test
This test is very simple and not completely scientific, but it works well when dehydrating vegetables. You will need a bowl that makes noise when things are dropped into it, that is why a ceramic bowl works well. Let your vegetables cool to room temperature, and then drop a few pieces into the bowl. If you hear a clinking sound when dropped into the bowl, then they are probably done dehydrating.
If your vegetables and fruits pass the test, you will want to turn off your dehydrator and allow all of your pieces time to cool to room temperature before moving on to the conditioning part of the process.
Step #4: Conditioning Before Grinding Vegetable Powder
IMPORTANT: Conditioning when you are dehydrating vegetables for powder is a crucial step that ensures that all the moisture is truly gone before grinding and storing. To condition your dehydrated produce, you will need a glass jar or Tupperware container (whichever option you choose, you will need a container with a lid).
The Conditioning Process:
- Fill your chosen container with your dehydrated food and make sure that there is a little wiggle room in the jar (I usually fill them 2/3 full). Note: Label your jars with your vegetable name and date so there is no confusion with other conditioning dehydrated foods you might be doing at the same time.
- For the next 4-10 days, once a day, shake your covered jar/container full of your dehydrated food (how long to do the condition step will depend on your weather/humidity; if you are a beginner, I suggest you try conditioning for 10 days at first and you will soon get more comfortable at figuring out when the conditioning step is done as you keep practicing).
- As you condition your food, any of the pieces that stick to the container or each other will need to go back into the dehydrator.
- The pieces that fail the conditioning process will need to be dehydrated longer and they will also need to go through the conditioning process again once they are removed from their second round in the dehydrator.
Step #5: Grinding and Storing Your Dried Vegetables/Fruits into Powder
Once you have your dehydrated vegetables/fruit and you are sure that all the moisture has been removed, it is now safe to grind them into your powders.
You will need a high powdered blender, food processor, or grinder to create your fine vegetable/fruit powder. If you notice that there are still some larger pieces, you can sift your powder and blend the larger chucks again.
After grinding your powder to the desired consistency, there is ONE MORE IMPORTANT STEP to ensure that you can store them in an air-tight container for years.
TO AVOID CAKING OF YOUR POWDERS: In order to avoid caking/moisture in your jar for storage, place your vegetable powder on parchment paper and put it in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes.
Store your powders in a mason jar with lid or other sealed container. For optimal results, store your powders in a dark and cool location.
What Dehydrated Vegetable Powders Are You Using?
Depending on what types of dehydrated vegetable powders you’ve made, their uses are pretty much limitless. There are vegetables that are commonly used alone in recipes or you can get creative and create your own or combine them for something really special.
You can keep them as powders for your cooking, or you can reconstitute them into a paste by putting them in a bowl with a little bit of liquid (water, broth, etc.) until you get the consistency you are looking for in your paste.
If you are not sure what vegetable powders to make or are feeling uninspired, here is a list of basic dehydrates vegetable powders to start with.
Common Kitchen Single Dehydrated Vegetable Powders:
- Garlic Powder – make your own garlic powder to use in all recipes that call for garlic powder, or it can also be used in place of garlic or minced garlic in recipes
- Onion Powder – use in recipes that call for onion powder or use it to replace minced or chopped onions in soups , sauces and other recipes
- Tomato Powder – This has become a must-have in my kitchen. Think “Tomato Paste on Demand.” This powder can be used to create tomato paste or sauce, just add water until you reach your desired consistency. Learn more about making tomato paste from powder in this tomato paste recipe.
- Chile Pepper Powder – dry any pepper you want to spice things up add to chili, or to add to homemade taco seasoning or homemade chili powder
- Beet Powder – add some color to different dishes or an extra boost of nutrients t0 smoothies
- Celery powder – common soup thickener and great for homemade celery salt
- Spinach powder – sprinkle on salads or add it to smoothies for an extra green nutrition boost (think homemade green powder)
- Mushroom powder – I use this sprinkled on popcorn or added to my soups and stews for an umami-flavor-boost
A Few Dehydrated Powder Mixes
- Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Powder – makes a great soup thickener and adds a creative twist.
- Vegetable Broth Mix – This is a combination of any vegetable powders you happen to have on hand.
Do you have any go-to vegetable powder ideas or any powder mixtures? I would love to learn some more ideas to try out in my kitchen!
Final Thoughts on Dehydrated Powders
Dehydrated powders are a great way to save space in your food storage and they are also a great way to make fresh and tasty food in your kitchen.
I am having an absolute BLAST right now in my kitchen creating dehydrated powders. It is saving me tons of space in my food storage, especially with making tomato powder instead of storing cans and cans of tomato paste for the winter. My family is really enjoying the mushroom powder on our Sunday evening popcorn.
I’ve enjoyed creating homemade dehydrated powders so much that I included instructions for making some powders in my Project Homestead group and it opened me up to creating all sorts of amazing homemade spice blends for my kitchen (I’m sharing 10 homemade spice blend recipes and some dehydrated powder recipes for one of the month activities in Project Homestead). Learn more about Project Homestead here.
More Food Storage Related articles:
- How to Store a Year’s Worth of Food for Your Family (Without Waste and Overwhelm)
- Top Tips For Storing Vegetables Without a Root Cellar
- Homemade Tomato Paste Recipe
- How to Store and Use Bulk Pantry Goods