How to Dehydrate Zucchini and Summer Squash

A Great Method for Preserving Summer Veggies

Mixed summer squashes (Cucurbita)
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It's easy to grow more zucchini and summer squash than you can possibly eat, and even friends and neighbors can get tired of zucchini bread. Fortunately, zucchini and other summer squash are among the easiest vegetables to dry in a dehydrator—and dehydrated zucchini and squash will stay tasty and fresh for recipes all year long. To use your summer bounty in the dead of winter, just rehydrate squash and add it to pureed soups, stews, and other dishes.

How to Dehydrate Zucchini or Summer Squash

The dehydrating process takes about a day. Most of the process requires no active work on your part; if you use an oven you'll need to be home to monitor your stove and remove the squash at the right moment but if you use a dehydrator you can just set and go.

Before Dehydrating Consider Blanching

Before dehydrating, you may want to blanch your squash to retain color and texture. Blanching is a simple process of boiling the squash whole for about one minute and then immediately plunging the hot vegetable into extremely cold water. Blanching is an optional step, as it doesn't impact the taste of the zucchini; if you plan to puree the squash for soup, for example, color and texture are unimportant.

Equipment and Ingredients

Steps for Dehydrating Zucchini and Summer Squash in a Dehydrator

  1. Wash the squash. You won't be peeling them, so you should gently brush or scrub away any dirt.
  2. Slice the squash into 1/4-inch thick rounds or pieces.
  3. Arrange the squash pieces on dehydrator trays leaving space between the pieces on all sides. You don't want them touching each other as that will result in inconsistent drying. You need space around them so the airflow will be more effective in drying the slices.
  4. Set the dehydrator for 135F. Dry the squash until crisp-dry. This will usually take about six hours.
  5. Remove the dried squash from the dehydrator and let it cool at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  6. Once the dried squash is cool, transfer it to airtight containers. Label the containers to identify the contents and include the date that you dried the squash. This will help in identifying it later, as well as knowing which containers you dried earlier or later so you can use the oldest first.
  7. Store the dried squash in a cool, dark place.

Dehydrating Zucchini in an Oven

If you don't have a food dehydrator, it is possible to dry zucchini or squash in your oven. One problem is that many ovens don't have a temperature setting below 150. As a result, it's hard to get the consistent temperature you want for drying squash, which is between 125 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

To use an oven, first prepare your zucchini as in steps 1-3, arranging them on a cookie sheet or baking sheet you have covered with parchment paper.

Place them in an oven set to the lowest heat setting and prop the door open about an inch. Check the temperature with an oven thermometer. Dry for four to six hours until the slices are crisp-dry.

Rehydrating and Using Dried Zucchini

To use dehydrated zucchini and summer squash, pour boiling water over the squash and let it soak for 15 minutes. Once the vegetables are properly plumped up, pour off the water and use the squash as usual in your favorite recipe.