I Tried Using a Food Dehydrator for the First Time – Here’s What Happened

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

My daughter gave me an early Mother’s Day gift – you guessed it – a food dehydrator. Since I had wanted one for a while now I could not wait to try it out and opened it way before Mother’s Day.

Why I wanted a food dehydrator

Drying food is a great skill to have.

  • Supplement your food storage with dried foods.
  • Take advantage of produce and meat sales.
  • Preserve foods you are not able to use and avoid waste.
  • Control what goes into your dried foods – no preservatives or additives.
  • Make great snacks for the family.

I’ve posted articles about drying fruit in an oven or convection oven before, so you may be wondering why did I still want one?  The main reason is the energy expenditure.  My small turbo convection oven which I use for cooking bacon, air-frying and baking uses 1300 watts per hour, while the food dehydrator only uses 400 watts.

She got me the Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator and Jerky Maker.

How to dry fruit in a food dehydrator

I decided to dry bananas and canned pineapple (in juice).  Here are the steps I took:

1. I sliced the bananas in thin even slices. To make the slices even, I used a mandolin slicer. (The mandolin slicer is very sharp, so watch your fingers and knuckles as you can slice skin off.)

2. Open the canned pineapple and save 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice; you can drink the rest.  Since I used canned pineapple there was no need to slice.

3. Dip the banana slices in the 1/4 cup pineapple juice to prevent browning.

4. Wash the food dehydrator trays and dry thoroughly.

5. Arrange the fruit slices in the food dehydrator. They should not be touching as this will delay the drying process.

6. Turn on the dehydrator.  Use the recommended hours in the instruction manual.

I left the dehydrator on for about 10 hours before checking if they were done. I found they were already dry so I turned it off.


Running the food dehydrator all day gets to be a bit noisy.  Next time I will make room and place it in the garage so I can run it all day and not hear any noise.

The dried bananas were a bit stuck on the food trays. I just needed to pry them off with a spatula.  They came off very easily, but next time I may spray the trays with Pam cooking spray. The pineapple slices came off easily.


Both had a really good taste.  Since I did not add sugar, and the bananas I used were not completely ripened, the dried bananas were less sweet than store bought banana chips.  I found them to be just as crunchy as store-bought banana chips.

The dried pineapples were naturally sweet and have a pleasant chewy texture.

All in all, drying fruit in the dehydrator was great and I will be trying to dry other foods such as vegetables and meat.  My next project that I will post about will be beef jerky.

Have you tried dehydrating food?  Please share your experience in the comments below!


About the author:

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.




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  1. I have died several different fruits and potatoes. The potatoes came out the best after I learned to slice them very thin. My dehydrator is a really cheep one that does not have a fan and you need to move the tray stack around when drying. I also found that I needed to spray the racks with “Pam” so the pineapple did not stick. Be VERY carful using a mandolin slicer I cut a chunk the size of a dime off the end of my thumb right down to the bone slicing potatoes. I still have a flat spot in that thumb. You have to blanch potatoes or they turn black when dried. I have not tried any meat yet.

    1. Hi Oldguy, Thanks for that tip about blanching potatoes so they don’t turn black. I had heard that about the mandolin slicer – appreciate the warning 🙂

    2. I use my covered back porch to dry foods and garage esp. when hot weather.
      HINT: when items stick on trays, just put in freezer for a few minutes–they’ll pop right off.:-) Guaranteed!

  2. A good way to start dehydrating vegetables us to use a bag of frozen vegetables. They will be already cut to a good working size. I first tried bags of mixed vegetables I let them thaw on some paper towels to absorb any extra moisture. Because my dehydrator has wide a grid I use parchment paper to line the trays (just like I would have done in the oven). This worked really well and I have used the same papers several times.

    1. Hi Ben, Great! I will try drying mixed vegetables, I do have a bag I can use. Good tip about using parchment paper – I wasn’t sure if that would work. Thanks!

  3. This is going to sound strange, but I dehydrate things like tomato sauce, veggie puree, bbq sauce, precooked baked beans in sauce, and frozen veggies (thawed first) it doesnt have to be just fresh food dehydrated. I have used the purees that are dehydrated as a powder (thrown into a new coffee grinder to make a fine powder) in sauces, baking, and drinks, it adds nutrition to meals that may have minimum nutrients.. The precooked baked beans dehydrate nicely and rehydrate wonderfully, just a bit crumbled compared to the nice beans, but the flavor is there. Its just a bit easier than dragging 100 cans of beans, or soaking dried beans for 24 hours when in a bug out situation. bbq sauce is dehydrated looks like a fruit roll up, it can be vacuum packed with an Oxygen absorber to keep long term, lasts longer than in the bottle or in the fridge.

    1. Hi Cynthia, What a nice selection of dried foods you’ve learned! Even sauces and baked beans! I am impressed, I need to learn how to make all that. Would save money and space too. Thanks for the comment.

  4. YES. A great way to preserve. I use the dehydrator on the porch (back) to keep the moisture out of the kitchen. We get plenty of that from cooking and plants. I love to do mixed greens to add to everything in the winter.

    1. Hi Leah, Good idea using the dehydrator on the porch. Growing mixed greens is excellent! Thanks for the comment!

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