Dehydrating Food to Preserve Nutrition

Published by: Nancy Meissner

Did you know that dehydrated foods can retain up to 90-95% of their nutrition if dried properly?  

If you’re still on the electric power grid, Excalibur is a well-known brand of electric dehydrator, but there are many others that work very well and are probably less expensive. If you’re off the grid, you may want a solar dehydrator. You can actually build your own if you want to. Just check online for free info and plans for solar dehydrators. 

Info on the actual process of dehydrating is also available online and in books, and I recommend a small inexpensive booklet from Storey Publishing called “Food Drying Techniques” (Country Wisdom Bulletin A-197). This booklet is also available on Amazon and from Barnes & Noble. 

Once your produce is properly dehydrated, I recommend storing it in glass jars if possible, or food-grade plastic 5-gallon buckets. 

If you’d like some very simple instructions on how to dehydrate a number of my favorite fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

I’ve included that in my cookbook “The Contemporary Artisan’s Collection of Recipes & Methods”.  Here are a couple of samples:

Dried Italian Plums

Wash and slice plums in half (slice along the seam that’s on one side of the plum and back up the other side). 

Discard pits. Place halves on the dehydrator tray. Dehydrate at 135 degrees or in a solar dehydrator until plums show no moisture when touched, but are still pliable. 

To make sure plums are dry enough, put them into a plastic Ziploc bag or glass jar with lid right away while still warm, and if condensation forms on the inside, you need to dry them out a bit more. Pack in air tight containers until ready to use. 

Sun-dried Tomatoes in Oil


*4 pounds ripe, small, plum tomatoes

*8 oz. coarse sea salt

*Olive oil


Cut tomatoes in half and place on a tray to dry in the sun.  Sprinkle with salt and cover with cheesecloth to protect from insects. During the daytime, turn tomatoes twice daily. Bring in at night to protect from moisture. Remove any excess salt that hasn’t dissolved and put dried tomatoes into small jars. Cover with 1/2” olive oil so that the oil is within 3/8” of the top of the jar. Close jars tightly. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups.


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