For today’s seasonal recipe round-up, I’d like to show you how to dehydrate zucchini and summer squash!
A single zucchini or squash plant is quite productive and can easily overwhelm a good sized family. So preserving it for the future is a good and frugal idea. Not to mention that your family may be pretty sick of it, if you’re eating a lot fresh.
Are you all sick of it? Truthfully, I’m not yet. We’re not eating tons of it because I’m saving a bunch — and that’s probably helping. 😉
The two best ways I’ve found to dehydrate zucchini are: shredded and thinly sliced. The thinly sliced become zucchini chips and they’re really good!
By the way, in today’s podcast I share three reasons why dehydrating is my family’s preferred method of long-term food preservation. Here’s where you can listen to that.
How To Dehydrate Zucchini (or Squash) Chips
Thinly sliced, seasoned, dehydrated, and crispy zucchini or squash make a great snack! We really enjoy them.
Thinly slice zucchini or squash to somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick. 1/8″ is too thin, I think, and you end up with paper-like chips. 1/4″ is a bit too thick. I use my mandolin slicer; mine is a Bron and it comes with a carriage guard to protect fingers from the very dangerous and sharp blade. (Love it!)
Spread on dehydrator trays and sprinkle the chips with sea salt. You can also brush with olive oil or sprinkle with other seasonings like pepper or garlic. If you use olive oil, they’re more of a fresh-eating chip rather than something you store long-term.
Dry at 115 degrees Fahrenheit until crisp, about 12 hours or overnight, give or take. They really will be crisp when done. Let cool, but transfer as soon as possible to air-tight jars or containers. Vacuum seal if you can and they will keep crisp a long time.
I think you could also make these in the oven. Anyone know what the temp and timing would be on that? Please share. 🙂
Shredded, Dried Zucchini or Squash
Perhaps the easiest and most useful way to preserve excess zucchini or squash is through shredding and drying. This is a really portable and space-saving technique.
Did I mention easy?
Shred the zucchini or squash and spread out on dehydrator trays that are lined. I have an Excalibur dehydrator and I put the Paraflexx liners on — you can also line with parchment paper.
Dry at 115 degrees Fahrenheit until the shreds are totally dried out and crunchy, about 12 hours or overnight, give or take. They will be totally dry when done. Let cool, but transfer as soon as possible to air-tight jars or containers. Vacuum seal if you can and they will keep a long time at room temperature.
You might wonder how to use the shredded zucchini. Here are some ideas. You can crumble the dried shreds and sprinkle on salads. You can toss them in soups or stews or with browned hamburger. You can use in muffins, cookies, and breads.
I keep track of the measurements this way. I spread 3 or 4 cups of wet shredded zucchini on each dehydrator tray. Then when they’re done, I vacuum seal each tray’s contents separately and label accordingly — “4 cups wet zucchini.” This way, when I go to use it in the winter, I’ll know that each packet contains the equivalent of 3 (or 4) cups of wet, shredded zucchini. These are good amounts for most recipes, I think.
If the zucchini should be reconstituted for the recipe, I’ll mix the dried shreds with water to fluff up. If there’s excess water, I’ll drain it away before use. As time goes by, I’ll know better how much water to use, but right now I don’t.
Do you know how much water to use to reconstitute shredded zucchini? If so, please share. And don’t forget about the question above — if you know how long and at what temp to make zucchini chips in the oven, please fill us in.
Have a blessed weekend everyone! Don’t forget to check out the other squash and zucchini recipes and tips in this week’s seasonal recipe round-up.
save time, spend less, and get healthy... simple & delicious traditionally-cooked meals using ingredients you already have... even leftovers... 30 min or less!
free worksheet + videos:
Healthy Dinner in 30 Minutes... While Spending $0 Extra!
We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. This post may contain special links through which we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (though your price is the same).
Sarah Tudor via Facebook says
I just did this with 20 zucchinis!
debra cusick says
WOW! I just did one large one, and I’m TIRED! So worth it. Now you’ve inspired me to keep going. Our dehydrator only has 4 trays, but–now that we’re using it all the time–I think the 9 tray might find its way to our kitchen!
Just add trays. I now have 8 trays. Amazon or Walmart.
I have a small dehydratoer and did 5 trays put them in a zip lock bag anddd this mroning they were not crisp — hmmm should i have left them in longer ??
When I dehydrate things, I usually store them in glass jars. I haven’t had any luck storing in plastic bags – perhaps the humidity can get in. I just use mason jars to store things. If your dehydrated things go soft, just put them right back in the dehydrator and crisp them up. I have sometimes had the dehydrator shut off when I was out, and found the “should be crispy” things limp – I just turn the dehydrator back on for a couple of hours to crisp them again.
This happens because when you dehydrate foods, you have to condition them after drying. To do this, you place your cooled dehydrated food in a zipped up ziplock bag overnight at room temperature to allow the moisture that is left to evenly distribute. This is a test to see if they are finished dehydrating. If they are wet or floppy, they have failed the test and need to go back into the dehydrator and undergo another conditioning after more drying. Hope this helps.
Even though plastic bags are suppose to be air tight, they are not. The plastic itself allows air and moisture to transfer through in minute amounts. And plastic is a man made chemical that still contaminates the food. Glass is the best way to store, can be cleaned & sterilized, is air and moisture tight and totally recycled.
When any item is dry, it will ping when tossed into a glass bowl.
Rachel MacPherson Crouse via Facebook says
Do you need a mandolin or will a food processor slice thin enough?
Little late to the party, but I just used a knife to slice my zucchini. I just kept an eye on how thin I sliced each chip. Worked well enough. 🙂
GNOWFGLINS via Facebook says
Rachel — You can use a food processor. I have read you have to play with it to get them thin enough. I think press lightly on the blade so it doesn’t take so much off.
Adrienne Percy via Facebook says
I am a zucchini chip-a-holic. I’m just hand slicing and throwing some sea salt, coconut oil and lime juice on them before dehydrating…It seems I’m eating a couple zucchini a day. It’s the new kale chip in this home 🙂
Your Bron Mandoline cost $163 on Amazon. Can you or anybody else here recommend a mandoline that is less expensive? There is a Norpro on Amazon for around $17.00. As much as I would like the one you own there are other cooking tools I’d rather have more like the Vitamix.
I got a Kyocera Mandolin slicer (http://tinyurl.com/Kyoceramandolin) which has a an adjustable very sharp ceramic blade (I also bought a cut-protection glove http://tinyurl.com/microplaneglove l which I had used the other day when I decided to slice some cucumbers, and ended up slicing off a nice portion of my thumb…eeeuuuww! I think the glove is definitely a good investment)
The Kyocera slicer is adjustable to, I think, 3 widths. I really like it a lot. (I just recommend forego storing it in a drawer if you like your fingertips. I hang mine on a magnetic hook on the side of the refrigerator)
This device sells for $22 or so on Amazon.
Sally Jones says
Check the Ninja 1500 Blender
Kay — When I was picking mine out, this article helped me:
You’ve probably found one by now, but a coworker suggested the OXO $40 from amazon. It is perfect. Has 4 adjustable slice size settings, wavy and Julian blades and a finger guard spoof holder. This has made dehydrating so much better
I used a “Veg-O-Matic” that is a hand slicer that can go to super thin (1/8″ or less) to about 1/2 inch. You may be able to find one on ebay or amazon. I got mine about 30 years ago from my mom. Works super fast, easy. Did my 9 tray dehydrator but didn’t have sea salt so I used my canning salt on some, sugar and cinnamon on some and also taco seasoning on some. Going to see if we like any or all of them. Can’t wait.
Cheap mandolin slicer works fine. Definitely use glove. I just sliced through the end of my pinky last night halfway through my nail bed.maybe next time I’ll use my own advice.
I would imagine one simple way to find out how much water to use for re-hydration, is to weigh the raw zucchini on a kitchen scale first. Weigh again when completely dried. Find the difference in weight which would be the amount of water removed form the zucchini during drying. I’m sure if you did this several times you would get a good idea of approximate water needed to rehydrate.
I havent tried this yet, but it seems logical to me!
Dawn — Good thinking! I think that would work. 🙂
I tried this last year and found I needed a good long soak starting with hot water to get the zucchini to rehydrate back to the point I could bake with it, but it remained disappointingly chewy no matter what I did. The best was to use a generous bowlful of water & drain it after an overnight soak. I’m going to try zucchini chips this year & just go with the crispiness…
I prefer to rehydrate with an excess of water, if I can I drain and put fresh water halfway, because somehow there often is a special flavor that I don’t particularly like with rehydrated dry veggies
I,m going to do the next batches shredded, so far I’ve always sliced. Thanks for the thip
Do you peel the outside before you shred or do you leave it on?
My zucchinis are organic, so I just wash them well, then leave the peel on. If you are using non-organic, you might want to remove the skins.
Nancy — I leave the peel on. Very easy!
I peel the zucchini – I have been drying it for a couple of years now – and I put it in my soups all winter long – (not necessary to know how much water to rehydrate) if the soup gets too thick, add a bit more water.
back to peeling – I peel it – it seems the skin gets really tough during the drying and rehydrating process. Yes, it is one more step – but I enjoy my soups and chili a lot more (and the kids don’t know it is in there
Lisa C says
I’ve learned that I don’t love zucchini. So it’s been piling up on our counter from our CSA and my brother-in-law’s garden. I tried zucchini chips in the dehydrator and it only concentrated that flavor I don’t like lol. But I am okay with it in soup and bread because the flavor gets covered up. I love your idea to shred it then dry it! I’m going to need a vacuum sealer…
After the webinar on food preservation, and now this post on dehydrating, I’m almost ready to buy a good dehydrator. I have one of those small circular tray dehydrators and have dehydrated zucchini but it doesn’t hold much! I used dried zucchini in soups, refried beans, and spaghetti sauce. I like the idea to add it to hamburgers.
Nancy Roberts says
Thanks for sharing your experiences about dehydrating squash! I have been doing it for a while and chunk the squash before dehydrating it as it looks better in soups and stews! I’ve never dried shredded zucchini, but it’s a great idea. Thanks again!
Do have any instruction on how to dehydrate using oven? I don’t have one and would love to learn to do this.
I am going to dehydrate some store bought now to experiment for this summers crop. I might put it in the food processer after it dries to powder it, that way I can sneek it into all kinds of stuff 🙂
When you mention that vacuum sealing lets them stay crisp for a long time would that be 3 months, 6 months? I am trying to dehydrate for an upcoming trip where we will be mainly in the remote bush for 3 months and want to work out when I can start frantically stockpiling non persihable non fridge reliant foods.
Pamela — I’ll be opening up a package of them from the summer soon and I’ll let you know if they’re still crisp. Let’s hope they are! 🙂
I’d love an update on this. Did the chips stay crispy in the vacuum sealed bags?
With the vacuum sealing they stayed crisp fro months. 🙂
GNOWFGLINS Support Team
is it necessary to pre treat summer squash before dehydrating? Thanks
Wardee Harmon says
No — It isn’t. 🙂
Gary Ratajczak says
Wife and I are just getting started. We bought an 80L Cabelas commercial dehydrator. When doing zucchini chips for longer storage (3 to 6 months) would you still spray with coconut oil and then season? Is that oil the best to use?
I already have a Foodsaver.
We are in UpState NY and the Amish stands are just beginning to have some produce.
Thanks in advance for the assistance.
Wardee Harmon says
Gary — For longer storage you’d want to avoid using fat, though coconut oil is very shelf stable so I think it would be okay for 3 to 6 months.
i’m reading a recipe that says to put them in oil and salt first. thoughts? i know they wouldn’t be a stable that way. I was googling ‘zucchini chips dried’ and yours popped up. wondered if u ever used oil when doing dried veggies. I have done them the way you mention and the crew didn’t care for them as much and the salt didn’t stick.
Wardee Harmon says
Amylou — That’s for more of a eat-right-away chip and would be really good — and more tasty. I do mine without because I want to store them longer.
For oven drying, I’ve seen 2 hours at 225 degrees mentioned elsewhere.
Hi, I would recommend ALWAYS blanching because of the quality of the product you end up with for dry storage. Quick blanching sets the quality of color/taste/killing of germs and enzymes. And also somewhat assists in tenderizing the vegetable so that it rehydrates nicely when you prepare it for any of your recipes. I used to NOT. (An extra step! I have bushels to work on…do I have the time? and all other thoughts that wanted to lure me away from blanching!) Now I take the brief time needed to do that step. This comes from one who loves “shortcuts” but has learned that food to be saved is worthy of being prepared for saving.
I sliced my zucchini and placed it in the dehydrater and they stuck to the trays. Should I spray the trays with non stick? Would that make the chips ok for saving?
What did you put on your zucchini? I mean, what sauce or whatever? I have non-stick sheets in my dehydrator – things sort of stick, but when I flex the sheets they will peel off. I don’t know what dehydrator you have (mine is an Excalibur), but, no matter, you should be able to flick your zucchini off with a spatula if nothing else.
Sometimes when I put a sauce on something I am dehydrating, the pieces stick a bit, and when I am dehydrating a sauce, it all sticks, and then I have to flex the sheet to get it off.
Wardee Harmon says
I prefer to dry with a lined dehydrator tray — either the Paraflexx liners or even parchment paper. Then the shredded zucchini comes right off with flexing as Margaret mentioned. I wouldn’t advise using non-stick. You don’t want fat on your dried foods (for long-term storage) plus non-stick spray isn’t very healthy.
I had the same thing happen to me – I’ve been dehydrating zucchini for several years using my Excalibur. The times I have had it stick to the parchment were the times I did not remove some of the excess water (I sprinkle with a bit of salt and let it sit for an hour or so, the water just oozes out) before I put the zucchini in the dehydrator. I have no idea why this would make a difference, but it does for me. Hope this helps!
This tip from a friend has worked well for me when things might stick to my dehydrator’s flexible lipped tray liners. What I do is spray a a tiny amount (less than 1/2 tsp) of olive oil or nonstick spray onto the tray and then use a paper towel to spread it around the tray. It shows up as barely a sheen on the tray. It works great for drying “leathers” (e.g., apple sauce or pureed tomatoes). When the food is dry I bend the tray and gently pull up the food and peel it off (sometimes I have to use the tip of a paring knife to pry up a bit of the edge, then everything peels off). This should work for chips, too, which I plan to try making this weekend 🙂
I grew cayenne last year,let it dry and ground it to powder. Just a warning. DO NOT BREATH THE POWDER! not even a little. It is soooooo potent. I still have a hard time using it in my cooking.
(it’s very good though)
My father in law thought it was funny that I was cutting zuchini with a meat slicer. It worked perfectly though…=)
I have a huge zucchini I plan on shredding and drying in my dehydrator but I was wondering, when you say that you store in an air tight package, would a regular mason jar work and do I need to seal them like I would when canning? Or can I just put the dehydrated zucchini in and do up the lid? Also can I reopen the jar more than once or do I need to use everything in the jar once I open it?
I just put my dried stuff in mason jars if I am going to use it in a reasonable amount of time (like 6 months or so) If I am going to use it sooner, sometimes I put it in ziploc bags and squeeze out the air.
In researching dehydrating cucumbers found a site that made powder out of his dried cukes. Suppose to use for a base in other recipes as chili powder or whatever. However, thought to myself that dehydrated squash powder would be a good base for meatloaf, salmon patties in lieu of crackers which a few of us are giving up wheat/ gluten. I do powdered peppers all the time and will add that putting salt in the powder keeps it from clumping especially onion powder. All powders stay nicer in the freezer or fridge as they tend to absorb moisture over time on the spice rack.
Side note on squash. In battling the squash bug we discovered a small hand battery powered vacuum sucks up those nasty critters fast; also use the vac on other crops with bugs. However, it will not work on the major nasty of hornworms on tomatoes, just have to pick them off.
I grind things into powder if I know I am not going to use them anytime soon (next few months) or if I have excess. Powdered, I can put them in my “superfoods” jar, to add to smoothies, or I can add them to soups, sauces, or dressings later. I find that the powders last longer for me. I leave my dehydrated vegetables whole if I know I’ll be making soup soon. Sometimes, I will use some of the whole dehydrated vegetables in salads (soak them and throw them in – I mostly do this with sea vegetable salads).
Sometimes, I realize that I am not going to eat all of, say, my zucchini chips in a reasonable amount of time, and, so I do grind them into powder and throw them into a jar (sometimes, depending on the seasoning, in the superfoods jar, and other times, into a jar labeled specifically with what’s in there, so I will know exactly what I am adding to what)
Been interested in
Powdered squash and its possibilities of using it for a pizza pie crust. We use thick slices of squash for pizza toppings but it is a little too wet
Interesting! You should definitely give it a try and let us know how it works. 🙂
~Danielle, TCS Customer Success Team
What about blanching?
I have been reading up on it, and it is suggested that most vegetables and fruits get blanched before drying (or freezing).
Perhaps a way to figure out how much water to add back into your shredded dried zucchini is to weigh it wet, and then once it’s dried. Then add water back in until the total quantity is the same as the pre-dried weight. I would imagine that some zucchini would be wetter than others, but it should give you a good approximation. Sorry I’m a bit late to the party.
Rehydrate in your rice cooker. Add water to the bottom of the cooker and the dried squash in the top compartment. Add about just cover the squash in beef broth then continue adding beef broth till the volume is about double. Let dehydrated foods sit in liquid for about 10 minutes before you add heat for best results. If your in a hurry you may omit this step. Your first time rehydrating these, set your rice cooker for about 15 minutes. IF they aren’t done, set for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat till your happy with how they are cooked. Figure out how much time it took to cook these for your particular cooker and the thickness of squash you tend to use when you cut squash. After your first time, just set the timer for that amount of time to cook your squash.
Linda Garrison says
Vacuum sealing in glass. A BIG yes. Did a experiment with turkey jerky. Vacuum sealed in plastic storage bags and vacuum sealed glass canning jars. At 3 months and 6 months no differences. BBUUUTTT at 9 months the plastic bags jerky was going rancid. The glass vacuum seal jerky last bottle was eaten at 1 and 1/2 years . Still crisp and not rancid. Now I did do two other things. Added moisture absorbing packages and misted the jerky while cooling but still warm with mixture of water and colloidal silver. Silver kills mold, bacteria etc.
Has anyone dehydrated raw zucchini leaves straight from the garden? Washed of course!
I also have an Excalibur dehydrator. When I tried to dehydrate basil leaves, as they got dry they blew all over the place because of the fan and ended up off the Paraflex sheets and on the bottom of the dehydrator. Would that happen with the zucchini shreds once they dry up? I don’t think there is any way to turn off the fan on my dehydrator.
I place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the top tray’s food to prevent fly-a-ways.
Rip Linton says
I soak my chips overnight, prior to dehydrating, in seasonings. I use BBQ sauce and water, Cajun spices and water, and Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper and water most of the time. By soaking overnight, the flavor stays in the chips and they still stay fresh for months.
It does take a little longer to dry them completely. I usually let them go for 24 hours.
How lovely! Exactly what I needed. Thank you for posting!
Cindy Byers says
I love fried squash , do you think that it would work for this, I love to dehydrate, an have had good success with it, just thought I would see if it were possible to dry for frying, what do ya think?
Sonya Hemmings says
We’ve never tried to fry dehydrated or rehydrated squash, so we’re not sure what would happen. If you try it, please let us know how it goes. 🙂
TCS Customer Success Team