Zucchini is a summer garden favorite that mostly consists of water (about 95%). Despite not offering many calories, it’s quite versatile—it can be baked and even made into a stew. Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep that long. To preserve it for later use, you need to dehydrate it.
So, the question now is, “What are the best ways of dehydrating zucchini chips?” Well, in this brief article, you’re going to learn about three popular methods: using a dehydrator, using an oven, and sun-drying.
How to Dehydrate Zucchini Chips
Dehydrating zucchini chips in the food dehydrator
Wash the zucchini thoroughly. Scrub off any dirt on the skin using a soft-bristled brush. Slice it into ¼-inch thick chips. Do not slice it too thin or it will burn. Likewise, don’t slice it too thick or it won’t dehydrate properly.
- Place the pieces on the drying rack. Make sure to place them in a single layer. Don’t let the pieces overlap in any way.
- Dry them until they turn brittle, or you could simply follow the instructions that come with your dehydrator. Still, brittleness is a good sign that moisture has been thoroughly removed.
- In most cases, the dehydrator should be set to low, with its temperature at around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The entire drying process will likely take anywhere from 12 to 18 hours.
- Turn the sliced zucchini every hour and rotate the rack once during the drying process. This is to ensure even drying. This will also prevent the zucchini from being burned.
Dehydrating zucchini chips in the oven
Dehydrating zucchini chips using an oven is a rather straightforward endeavor. The first thing you’ll have to do is wash the zucchini, then slice it into thin pieces.
- Preheat the oven to about 125 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping an oven thermometer in the center of the tray will let you check if the temperature is being maintained. This will ensure even drying on both sides of the chips.
- Lay the chips on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Check whether the zucchini pieces are touching each other. Overlaps should be avoided to allow for even drying.
- Place the trays inside the oven. It’s best to leave the oven door slightly open (an inch or two). This makes it easier to achieve proper air circulation. This will likewise let moisture escape.
- Flip the zucchini slices every one to two hours.
If you’re using a convection oven, however, you don’t need to leave the oven door slightly open. The baking time will last around 5 to 7 hours.
Drying in the Sun
Wash the zucchini thoroughly. Slice it into ¼-inch thick chips, then sprinkle with salt. The addition of salt helps lower moisture within the zucchini pieces, as well as prevents microbial growth.
- Lay the pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure that there’s space between the pieces and that they aren’t overlapping. This way, all the chips will be dried evenly.
- Put the tray in a place where there are direct sunlight and air circulation. The drying time may vary due to weather and humidity. Nonetheless, assuming that it’s fairly sunny most of the time, drying usually takes around 4 days.
- Flip the zucchini chips every one to two days. This is to ensure even drying on both sides. You may also need to cover the trays with a protective netting or cheesecloth. This is to keep insects away.
Don’t forget to put the tray in a dry, ventilated place when the sun goes down.
Cooling and Storing Dried Zucchini Chips
Remove the trays from the oven or dehydrator. Don’t transfer the zucchini chips until they’ve cooled completely. For sun-dried zucchini, you can leave the pieces to cool overnight. This is to dry off any moisture left.
Store the zucchini chips in an airtight container. This prevents any moisture from seeping in. This also keeps it from developing any molds or mildew. Alternatively, you could put them in vacuum-sealed bags. Ziploc bags can be used but remove as much air as possible before sealing them.
Place your chosen container in a dry place. If kept under room temperature, your zucchini should last for a month or two. You can also freeze the zucchini chips placed in the bags. These will last for 5 to 10 months.
READ ALSO: How to Store Dried Vegetables
Things to remember
You can spray the parchment paper with oil—that is if you will eat the chips immediately after cooling. It’s best not to use oil if you plan to store it for a longer time. Keep in mind that oil is unstable and can spoil easily.
You can also blanch the zucchini before dehydrating it. Blanching is boiling the vegetable for a few minutes and then immediately placing it in an ice bath or cold water. This will help retain its color.
Using smaller zucchinis that don’t have mature seeds is better. This is because you will not have to worry about the seed cavity popping out. Also, you won’t need to be concerned about the seeds getting hard as they dry.
By the way, always remember that zucchinis have different moisture levels inside. This means they don’t dry at the same rate. So, if necessary, you can actually remove them (or the pieces) individually.
The more mature zucchini have higher moisture content. This makes drying it longer. Make sure to thoroughly dry the vegetable so as to avoid molds or mildew formation.
Zucchini Chip Ideas
You can rehydrate the chips or crumble them for use in salads or pasta. Rehydrate the zucchini by soaking it in cold water for a few minutes.
You can also eat the chips as is. Season them with paprika or dried herbs before the dehydration process. You can also marinate them in balsamic vinegar. If you do this, make sure to remove excess moisture from the marinade by using a cheesecloth.
You can also grind dried zucchini into a powder. Powdered zucchini can be used in gluten-free cooking, as well as in baking or making muffins. Yes, the powder can be used as a seasoning.
All in all, the summer squash can definitely be used in a lot of creative ways, and dehydrating zucchini chips is as easy as choosing among three simple methods.