How to Dry or Dehydrate Summer Produce

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Dried chanterelle mushrooms

At the end of the summer when we are awash in gorgeous produce we must remember to take a moment away from slathering corn with sweet butter and making fried zucchini to remember that this embarrassment of riches lasts but so long, and that if we are not smart, we could be left with just fond memories of all those peaches. Time to preserve those seasonal gifts.

Dried chanterelle mushrooms

Certain ingredients take very well to drying or dehydrating. You want to make sure that whatever food you are drying is just ready to eat, not overripe, and not underripe, and without any bruises or dings.

In some cases produce that is to be dried should be pretreated, either blanched first (cooked very briefly in boiling water, then cooled quickly in an ice bath) or dipped in solutions in order to retain both color and texture. Click here for more info on that. Vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms, depending on the type and pretreatment, must be up to 90% dehydrated to keep without spoiling. 

Methods for Drying Produce

There are a few types of drying methods to consider: air drying, oven drying, and using a dehydrator. Using a dehydrator is the most reliable method. If you think that you will be interested in drying produce and other foods on a regular basis, an electric dehydrator is a good investment. Eugenia Bone, an expert in preserving food, recommends you look for a dehydrator that has an enclosed thermostat which ranges from 85 to 160F, a fan or blower to circulate air, and trays made of plastic.

Some of the newer air fryers also have the ability to dehydrate, so check to see if yours has that capacity. Or, look up instructions for dehydrating in your particular air fryer make and model.

Dried cherries on parchment paper.

Another possibility for fruit is to make fruit leather. Again, looking up specific directions for each type of fruit will ensure best quality and safest results, but here is a quick guide. This can be done in a dehydrator or your oven.

Best Summer Produce for Drying or Dehydrating

  • Shell beans
  • Corn
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Hot and sweet peppers
  • Smaller tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
Dried tomatoes on parchment paper.

Recipes That Use Dried Produce:

Here are 6 recipes using dried fruit or vegetables, so you can enjoy summer’s bounty all year long.

Braised Cipollini Onions with Dried Cherries
5 from 4 votes

Braised Cipollini Onions with Dried Cherries

Cipollini in Agrodolce is a wonderful sweet and sour preparation for these charming little onions.
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Lentils and Carrots with Dried Apricots / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman /
5 from 2 votes

Lentils and Carrots with Dried Apricots

Protein-packed lentils brightened with some spices and seasonings shine in this vegetarian or vegan recipe.
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Moist Dried Cherry Scones / Katie Workman / / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen
5 from 2 votes

Moist Dried Cherry Scones

A morning that starts with one of these is a very good morning.
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Pickled onions in a bowl of Mushroom Spelt Soup.
5 from 1 vote

Mushroom Spelt Soup

Move over barley, there’s a new grain in town.
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Mixed Greens Salad with Pears and Balsamic Dressing
5 from 2 votes

Mixed Greens Salad with Pears and Balsamic Dressing

This is a super-simple gorgeous salad recipe that features fresh pears and dried apricots — perfect for a fall or holiday meal.
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Granola in a see-through container with a lid.
5 from 11 votes

Nut-Free Granola

This easy and customizable granola recipe will become a loved staple in your house.
View Recipe

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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