How To Dehydrate Food Without A Dehydrator At Home – 8 Easy Methods That Work

By Eric Mitchell •  Updated: March 24, 2022 •  10 min read

In this article, I’ll be showing you how to dehydrate food without a dehdyrator, but with commonly found items around your home.

The act of drying food for preservation is as old as mankind. Evidence shows that our early ancestors actively dried food as early as 12,000 B.C. Here is a timeline about the history of food preservation. This was thousands of years before the invention of electricity, leave alone the modern-day dehydrators.

What this clearly means is that you don’t need to invest in a dehydrator to dry your favorite foods for long-term use. For those who live off the grid, I also have a few techniques of how to dry food without electricity.

How To Dehydrate Food Without A Dehydrator

How to Dehydrate Food Without a Dehydrator

1. Dehydrate Food With The Regular Oven

An oven is a common appliance in most homes. While it’s not necessarily designed to dehydrate food, it can be perfectly used for that. You only need to know how to play with the temperature and time settings.

Mind you, if you are yet to eat dehydrated foods, your oven will offer a great way to experiment and let you decide whether to invest in a dehydrator or not.

To dry your fruits or jerky in the oven, you’ll need:

Cut your fruits, veggies, and meat into ¼-inch cuts (0.63cm) and place them on a cookie sheet which has been lined with a wax paper.

The next step is to prepare your oven for the task. All you need is to set it at the lowest temperature (preferably 180℉). If your oven doesn’t offer these temperature options, simply set it at under 200℉. This should do for most foods.

Tips For Drying Food In The Oven

2. Dehydrate Food Using A Toaster Oven

If you are not planning to dehydrate lots of food at once, then your toaster oven should do just fine. The key benefit of dehydrate food using a toaster oven is that you won’t be interrupting the use of the main oven.

I also find it more reliable since most of them have much lower temperature settings than regular ovens.

To Use Your Toaster Oven

Tips For Using A Toaster Oven To Dry Food

3. Dehydrate Food Using A Microwave

I bet you didn’t know that you can dehydrate food using a microwave. We all know that this appliance works by sealing in the moisture content which is quite the opposite of dehydrating. But with a few tricks, you can dry your apples and herbs in no time. Tho there is a difference between a dehydrator and a microwave oven

I don’t recommend drying jerky in the microwave considering how long it takes to prepare. Instead use a dehydrator machine for jerky.

This method requires foods that dehydrate quickly such as apples and herbs.

How To Dehydrate Herbs In The Microwave

How To Dehydrate Apples In The Microwave

Available to read: best apples to dehydrate

Alternate Methods To Dehydrate Food Without Electricity

As I told you earlier, the people of old didn’t rely on electricity to dehydrate their food nor on some other kitchen small appliances. And it’s still very possible to do the same today.

Here is how to dry your food when the grid goes down!

4. Dehydrate Food Using Fire Drying

This is one of the oldest methods. It works best for meat although vegetables and fruits can also be dried by placing them on the ground near the fire.

To dehydrate jerky using fire:

5. Simply Hang Them In Open And Dry Airspace

Do you live in a dry area that gets quite hot? Well, you don’t really need a dehydrator. Simply look for a good spot free of bugs and pests. Ideally, this spot should have a good airflow and should reach temperatures of 90-100F during the day.

To keep the bugs out, simply use a net to create a bag. This method works best for flowers, small fruits such as cranberries, and leafy items.

6. Dehydrate Food Using Your Car

Besides taking you where you need to be, you could use your vehicle as a diy dehydrator. Vehicles tend to build up a lot of heat when parked in the sun. They also get quite warm even in winter thereby making them ideal for dehydrating food throughout the year.

To dry food inside the car:

If you don’t have trays, you could simply hang the food with strings making sure that it does not take touch anything. To do this, you could run several strings through the windows by hanging a small weight on either side. Hang your food on the ‘line’ inside the car and let it dry slowly

It might take a day or two for the food to dry completely depending on how hot the inside of your car gets

For those who live in extremely sunny areas, you could simply place your food in trays and put them on the top of the car. A light cloth or a net could be used to keep the pests out.

7. Dehydrate Food Using A Black Tarp Or Clean Trash Bag

Black tarp and trash bins accumulate a lot of heat when spread on the ground in the sun. This helps in creating a perfect drying zone for a variety of foods.

Your food will need some form of protection from flies and other bugs. Spreading a net or light cloth on top might help.

8. Use A Home-Made Dehydrator

A food dehydrator works by creating heat using a heating element. The heat is then circulated across the food to remove moisture by a fan.

Based on this principle, you could easily make a home-made food dehydrator with easily available materials around your home and if you need further inspiration, here are 10 uses for the food dehydrator I’ve already written a guide on how to make a solar or electric homemade food dehydrator in this article.

Store Your Dried Food For Future Use

Your food will take a varying amount of time to dry depending on the type of food and the type of method that you are using. An easy way to tell whether the food is okay is the cracker effect.

Perfectly dried food should snap in half. If it bends, then the chances are that it needs more time to dry.

After drying, you’ll need to put away the food for future use. Vacuumed containers perform the best in keeping your dried food safe for prolonged periods (Check our best food vacuum sealer reviews here).

You could also use airtight containers. Metallic and glass models are the most preferable since plastic tends to let in air with time. Learn how to store your dehydrated food in this article.

Eric Mitchell

Eric is the owner, author, content director and founder of dehydratorlab.com. He is the lead architect and the main man in matters concerning dehydrators, their accessories, guides, reviews and all the accompaniments.Whenever he is not figuring out simple solutions (hacks) involving cookery and their eventual storage, you will find him testing out the different types of dehydrators, to bring us the juicy details regarding these devices.He is a foodie enthusiast, pasionate about making jerky has a knack for healthy and tasty food and won't hesitate to share out any ideas that might be of value around this subject.

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