One of the easiest ways to preserve food is to have it dehydrated.
You don’t need to invest in specialized equipment, preservatives, or special jars to do so.
In fact, you don’t even need to buy a dehydrator. Your oven will suffice. Perhaps even a full-sized toaster oven will suffice.
These appliances are fully capable of dehydrating your food perfectly in the same amount of time as a dehydrator.
So the question is, can I really use my convection oven as a dehydrator?
Yes, in fact, you can use the oven to dry your food. The fact is that both a dehydrator and conventional oven-dry most foods in precisely the same way. However, a conventional oven and dehydrator both have different benefits. Ovens are probably the most accessible form of drying your food because pretty much anyone has an oven inside their home.
Drying food inside your oven is pretty simple, but they are some limitations, as well.
In some cases, you want to set the oven to its lowest temperature irrespective of whether you are dealing with an electric or gas oven.
However, both are designed to work at high temperatures so achieving a good temperature for drying would be anywhere between 50° to 70°C and this process often takes a little bit of fiddling, to get it right.
- 1 Using Convection Oven As A Dehydrator
- 2 Using A Food Dehydrator
- 3 Using A Convection Oven
- 4 Related Questions
Using Convection Oven As A Dehydrator
Lots of people use their convection ovens had dehydrators or a toaster oven to dry food instead of a food dehydrator.
The tools responsible for dehydrating food are simple, and you probably already have them lying around in your kitchen.
If you are just starting out drying food in the oven, there are a few things that you need.
If you’re drying fruit, you need lemon juice, a mandolin knife, cookie sheets or any flat pan, wax paper, and a spatula.
Preparing The Food
Depending on the food item that you are using, the preparation will vary. Here are some tips to get the best results:
- To prevent foods from going brown, soak them in an equal mixture of lemon juice and water for five minutes before starting the dehydrating process.
- Fat on meat cause it to scorch and burn during oven drying. So to remove the visible fats from meat and use lean cuts instead
- In order to dry food evenly and naturally, the pieces need to be the same size and thin enough to get the best results. Cut them fairly thin, and around a quarter of an inch slice are the best for drying food in your oven.
- If you don’t have the best knife skills, use the food mandolin instead. A large piece of meat can be placed directly on your oven rack or use paper towels to blot access marinade, so it doesn’t drip down into the heating element.
- A sheet of wax paper should be used on your cookie sheet and lay foods on top. This prevents a sticky situation when trying to remove the foods from the sheet.
Setting The Temperature
The key to proper hydration is getting the oven temperature just right. If it’s too hot, your foods will scorch and burn.
Alternatively, if it’s too low, you won’t get the desired results as well. Your oven temperature should be under 200°F for adequate results.
However, not many ovens have temperature options under 200°. In that case, simply set your oven to warm, and you’ll be all set.
However, if you do have an oven that gives you temperature options, 120° F to 140°F is usually optimal for a variety of foods.
When you start the dehydrating process, crank up the heat to 150°F until the surface moisture is visibly evaporated. When the surface of the food seems dry, lower the temperature to 120° F.
For Optimum Results
Drying food in your oven can be tricky, so here are a few points to remember:
Ovens tend to have hotspots, which can cause some foods to dry faster than others. So throughout the dehydrating process, ensure that you rotate the pans so that they dehydrate uniformly.
This is especially important when you use a toaster oven because they usually don’t contain fans to distribute the heat evenly.
The food should be flipped over several times throughout the dehydrating process so that all sides are dried evenly as oven drying times vary depending on the food.
Ultimately, plan on taking 6 to 10 hours to get your desired results. The drier the food, the less time it will take to dehydrate. Juicy foods tend to take longer than any other food type.
Finally, to check whether your food has dried properly, do a simple test. If the food is sticky or moist, then it isn’t finished drying.
Also, ensure that you space the pans 1.5 inches apart so that air can circulate around the food as it continues to dry.
How To Use It?
- In a nutshell, when it comes to dehydrating food, a food dehydrator is not needed in many cases. A convection oven will do the job just as well as the food dehydrator since it has a fan and convection cycle to speed up the dehydration process.
- Dehydrating food in this method prevents the formation off yeast, bacteria, and molds by removing moisture from the food. It also slows the enzyme that eventually will break down the components of the food.
- Your convection oven should be heated up to between 140 to 160°F. Thereafter, place the food that you are going to dry on a cookie sheet so the food edges are not touching, and there’s plenty of an assassination around your food.
- The loaded cookie sheet then goes into the convection oven, and you close the oven door or try experimenting with popping it open with a wooden spoon to ensure further air circulation.
- Remove a piece of the dried food from the convection oven and allow it to cool before you test the level of dryness.
- Ultimately, in the final step, if the food still feels sticky, then you need to put it back in the oven for longer until the food comes out completely dry.
What Is The Best Temperature For It?
If you own an oven, you practically own a food dehydrator. So all you need to do is combine the factors of air current, low humidity, and heat to turn your oven into a dehydrator.
If you enjoy occasionally drying beef jerky, fruit rolls, making banana chips or preserving excess produce like mushrooms and celery, then learning how to dehydrate food in your oven will be an advantage for you.
However, you should be aware that ovens dry food slower than dehydrators and do not have a built-in fan for air movement. Some convection ovens, however, do have a built-in fan that promotes speculation.
However, one of the drawbacks is that it takes the oven twice the amount of time to dehydrate food as a proper dehydrator will.
Ultimately you will be using more energy at the same time.
However, if you do not own a food dehydrator and would like to try out drying your food in your oven, here are the steps you need to take:
First, you need to check the dial and ensure that it has a setting for 140°F. This is crucial because if your oven does not go below 140°F, you will end up cooking your food instead of drying it.
The oven door should be left propped open at 2 to 6 inches to promote air circulation inside the oven. Circulation can also be improved by placing a fan outside the oven near the door.
However, keeping the oven door will ensure that the temperature will vary.
Placing an oven thermometer placed near the food will give an accurate reading. So adjusting the temperature dial will achieve the needed 140°F.
Using A Food Dehydrator
If you still prefer to use a food dehydrator, then you need to know that there are advantages and disadvantages to doing so.
Ultimately food dehydrators are designed to improve the quality of dried foods. So they also lock in the original flavor and color of the food where possible.
They usually have heating elements to dry the food out as well as fans and vents to encourage air circulation for uniform drying.
As the food dries it shrinks and becomes lighter and good; quality food dehydrators allow more of the flavor to be retained inside the dried food.
There are quite a few affordable food dehydrators on the market, and to get the most of your purchase, use it as often as you can.
It’s optimized for people with farms or even backyard gardens that produce a lot of produce during harvest time.
- Ultimately, food dehydrators have adjustable temperature controls that allow you to refine the drying process, especially for high-quality results. This will enable you to dry a variety of different types of foods as well.
- A food dehydrator ensures that you can dry a variety of foods at the same time
- It is designed to be more energy-efficient than an oven
- It offers faster drying time and consistent results
- It does take up extra counter space
- Some fans tend to be very noisy due to dehydration
- These machines tend to be costly
Using A Convection Oven
Using an oven is also a convenient way to dehydrate food. It will take anywhere between 5 to 6 hours or more to dry food properly, and starchy or meaty foods will take longer.
A normal oven usually requires low heat, and soft foods almost always require only low heat in order to dr food properly.
Oven temperatures should be low, if possible under 140° F. If it’s higher than this, food is likely to cook and instead of drying out.
The oven door should be left slightly ajar with a gap of approximately 2 to 6 inches wide. This will allow air to circulate into the oven while your food is drying.
It will also allow for even heat distribution. Placing a fan near the slightly open oven door will also help with air circulation.
Any kind of oven will do. Convection ovens are the best; however, if you don’t have one, a normal oven will work as well.
Energy costs are about 9 to 12 times more expensive than canned food. So you should be aware of this as well.
The most economical way of drying your food in an oven is by using a convection oven. Convection ovens have temperature-controlled settings and go as low as 120°F, which is adequate for drying food.
A gas oven will also get the job done however you run the risk of cooking food instead of drying it since keeping the temperatures low will be a challenge.
- Your normal oven or convection oven serves multiple purposes, so you won’t require an additional machine which will take up counter space.
- There’s no need to spend money on excess equipment.
- It will take longer for your food to dry in an oven
- It would require frequent checking and fidgeting to adjust the drying process and make sure you get the desired results
- It consumes more energy than a food dehydrator, and it’s more difficult to maintain temperature and keep good air circulation flowing
- You also run the risk of burning your food if you don’t constantly monitor the temperature
Can I Use A Normal Oven To Dry Food?
Yes, you can. However, the process is slightly different from using a food dehydrator and you need to exercise caution due to oven’s having high temperatures.
Does Using An Oven To Dry Food Use More Energy?
Yes, your oven will consume more energy as it takes between 6 – 10 hours to dry starchy and meaty foods in your oven as opposed to a fraction of that time in a food dehydrator.
What Temperature Do You Need To Set Your Oven To Dry Food?
It needs to be below 140 degrees Fahrenheit.Last updated on: