Learn how to dehydrate lettuce leaves at home.
Got an over-bounty of lettuce leaves inside your crisper? Maybe you’ve bought too much lettuce in the past days, and now you can’t consume it all. Or perhaps you’ve harvested lots of lettuce leaves from your garden, and now they’re inching closer to wilting.
No worries – you can still save your precious greens! Dehydrating lettuce leaves is the answer!
Yes, you CAN dehydrate lettuce leaves. It’s a real thing.
Ready to get started dehydrating your lettuce leaves? Try out the methods we’ve compiled in this post! We’ve also included some considerations you need to know before and after dehydrating lettuce leaves.
How to Dehydrate Lettuce Leaves
Dehydrating lettuce leaves with the dehydrator
The simplest way to turn your lettuce leaves into dehydrated form is by using a food dehydrator machine.
- Preheat your dehydrator machine at 35-46 °C/95-115 °F.
- Wash your lettuce leaves. Soak the leaves in plain cold water for a few minutes. Here is a small tutorial on how to properly wash lettuce leaves.
- Dry your washed lettuce leaves. You can do so by:
- Laying them out on a tea towel
- Gently patting dry with a kitchen cloth
- Tossing them quickly into a salad spinner
- Remove the fibrous membranes found at the bottom of every leaf. Some like to leave them on, but there are times when lettuce leaves don’t dry evenly when these membranes are on. If you’re cool with leaving the lettuce inside the dehydrator for longer, you can skip this step.
- Arrange the leaves on your dehydrating tray. Don’t overlap the leaves too much to promote natural airflow. And anyway, lettuce shrinks quickly while it dries.
- Place the tray inside the dehydrator machine. Then, dry your lettuce leaves for around 4-8 hours. Drying time will depend on your lettuce leaves’ water content and the humidity level inside your home. Your dehydrated lettuce is done when it easily crumbles once you pick it up.
- If you’re making green vegetable powder, toss your freshly-dehydrated lettuce leaves in a blender or coffee grinder. Otherwise, skip this step.
Let your dehydrated lettuce leaves rest. Place them inside an airtight jar (regardless if you’ve processed them to a powder form or not). Then, shake the container once a day to redistribute remaining moisture within the dehydrated leaves.
Dehydrating lettuce leaves in the oven
No dehydrator? No problem! You can use your oven to dehydrate lettuce leaves.
- Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature – not more than 212F (100C).
- Wash, soak, and rinse your lettuce leaves in cold water.
- Thoroughly dry your leaves to remove as much moisture as possible. Pat them dry with a kitchen towel, lay them on your kitchen counter, or quickly place them on a salad spinner.
- Remove each leaf’s fibrous membranes for fast and even drying.
- Prepare cookie sheets with cake cooling grids on them.
- Arrange the leaves on the cookie sheets. Make sure that the lettuce leaves don’t overlap with each other.
- Place the cookie sheets with the lettuce leaves on them inside your oven. Then, prop the oven door open. Doing so allows air to circulate and prevents moisture from being trapped inside.
- Allow the leaves to dry for 4-8 hours, just like it would in a food dehydrator. But always keep a close eye on your lettuce leaves – you don’t want them to get cooked or burned! If your leaves crumble as you pick them up, it’s all done.
Toss your dehydrated leaves into a food processor or grinder if you’re turning them into green powder. Otherwise, just let them cool down naturally before popping them into an airtight jar.
Shake the container once a day to condition and distribute the remaining moisture in the dried leaves.
Things to keep in mind
Whatever method you prefer to dehydrate lettuce leaves, you need to keep these things in mind during the entire process of dehydrating lettuce leaves:
1. Use darker lettuce leaves for drying
Lettuce leaves with darker shades of green are the most nutritionally-dense and are recommended for dehydrating. Choose varieties such as Green Leaf or Romaine. You may still dry Iceberg lettuce, but remember that this variety is mostly made up of fiber and water alone.
2. Consider drying lettuce along with other greens
Drying lettuce leaves and using them alone in dishes and smoothies may offer just a tiny bit of nutrition boost to your body. If you can, try dehydrating other nutrient-dense green leaves along with your lettuce. Kale and spinach go well with lettuce, especially when they’re all in powder form and used in a refreshing smoothie!
3. Toss the wilted lettuce away
Separate the wilted, browning lettuce leaves before you start the dehydration process. You’ll need crisper leaves for dehydrating, so don’t include the brown wilted leaves. Better use them for composting if you don’t want to completely toss them out in the rubbish.
4. Turn up the heat a bit
You may ramp up your dehydrator’s temperature up to 125 °F/52 °C if you’re living in a high-humidity area. This is because humid environments have more moisture, which makes it a bit harder to dry your lettuce leaves. However, be careful to keep a close eye on your lettuce leaves if you turn up the heat this high, though.
Also, remember that your dried lettuce leaves may re-hydrate itself after a few weeks in hot, humid climates. You should remove as much air as possible from their containers to make the dried leaves last longer. Vacuum-sealing your dehydrated lettuce leaves is also a good idea. Another thing you can do is do another round of dehydrating the leaves to remove as much moisture as possible.
Now, we’ve shown you two methods of dehydrating lettuce leaves. You can use a trusty food dehydrator, but you can also go for an oven. Both methods work well, given that you used the right temperature and allowed the leaves to completely dry over a set timeframe. You can now enjoy dried lettuce leaves naturally made in the comforts of your own home!