Beets are nutritious and add a nice pop of color to salads and soups. One of the best ways to store beets for long periods is by dehydrating them. Fortunately, dehydrating beets is something anyone can do.
Here are some of the easiest methods of dehydrating beets.
How to Dehydrate Beets
Preparing beets for dehydration
Proper preparation is necessary to get evenly dried, flavorful beets that keep well for quite a long time. The best beets to use are clean and without blemishes. Those with spots or soft parts do not dry out well, keep the flavor, or keep well. Once you have chosen good beets, follow these steps:
- Slice the greens off the beets.
- Remove any root sections that might still be present.
- Wash the beets well. Scrub off any dirt or soil. This goes whether you prefer to dry the beets with the skin on or without. Cleaning removes any microorganisms on the surface. These might survive during the dehydration process and grow while the dried beets are in storage.
- Pat dry the beets. The more moisture is removed from the surface, the faster the drying process will be.
- Peel the beets.
- Use a mandolin to slice the beets. Slice as thinly as possible for quicker drying later. As much as possible, slice the beets in uniform sizes and thickness.
- Spread the beets in a single layer on a tray fit for the method you want to use for drying.
Some people blanch the beets before peeling and slicing. This is not necessary but it does produce a nice, dark red color. It is, however, more recommended if a dehydrator will be used for drying. The dehydrator can remove all the moisture collected by the beets during the blanching period. If air drying or oven drying, blanched beets will take a longer time to dry fully. It also has a higher risk of spoiling.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to blanch beets at home.
Dehydrating beets in the food dehydrator
This is the easiest and most convenient way to dry beets, although there’s the need to invest in a dehydrator. A good food dehydrator for home use may cost a few hundred dollars. Despite the cost, a dehydrator guarantees quality, with more of the flavor retained.
Steps for dehydrating beets in a dehydrator
- Prepare the dehydrator by setting it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Arrange the sliced beets on the drying trays. Keep the beets about ¼ inch apart. This will promote good air and heat circulation in between the pieces for even drying.
- Place the tray in the dehydrator. It takes around 8 hours for sliced beets to dry completely. Check the beets after about 4 hours to see how far along it is.
The dehydrated beets will look as vibrant red as freshly sliced beets.
READ ALSO: Which Food Dehydrator is Right for You
Dehydrating beets in the oven
A convection oven will give better results compared to its conventional counterpart. Temperature control is also better. It has an internal fan that keeps air and heat circulating evenly over and in between the beets.
If a convection oven is not available, a regular home oven can work, too. Just keep the door slightly open to allow air to circulate. Otherwise, the beets will get burnt quicker.
Steps for drying beets in the oven
- Set the oven to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Set the rack in the middle of the oven. This will ensure that heat is evenly distributed. Using the bottom part increases the chances of the beets getting burnt.
- Arrange the beets in a single layer on a baking tray. There should be a quarter of an inch of space in between the pieces.
- Dry in the oven for 8 to 10 hours. For a regular oven, open the door a few inches to let air circulate.
- Check regularly to prevent the beets from getting burnt.
Drying vegetables and herbs under the sun is the oldest and cheapest method. It does not need any special means of controlling the temperature, and you won’t have to invest in special equipment either. However, it takes longer for the beets to fully dry out. The beets might also get exposed to dust and insects during the dehydration process.
Sun-drying is most recommended in the summer in places where it’s really hot and humidity stays low. These are the perfect condition for creating fully dehydrated, flavorful beet slices.
Steps for drying beets under the sun.
- Spread the beet slices in a single layer, well-spaced on a tray. Drying is faster if the beet slices are placed on a rack. A flat sheet may cause some moisture to pool underneath the beets.
- Cover the tray with mesh fabric. This will allow both air and heat to circulate while keeping away dust and insects.
- Place the beets under the hot sun for 4 hours.
- Check the beets if the tops are dry. If so, turn the beets to dry the other side.
- Allow the beets to dry for another 3 to 4 hours.
- If beets are not completely dry, repeat the process on the next day. Do not leave the beets outside for the night.
The thinner the slices, the faster the beets will dry under the sun. Faster drying will help produce more flavorful beets. However, sun-drying will cause the beets to wrinkle and lose much of its vibrant color.
How to Store Dehydrated Beets
Proper storage is just as important as proper preparation and dehydration. An airtight container will keep molds and moisture away. As you should already know, these can cause the dehydrated beets to spoil.
If properly dried and stored, dehydrated beets should keep for about 4 weeks or more. Some can even keep up to a year if fully dehydrated. However, if you’re planning to store them for long periods, it’s best to place them in vacuum-sealed bags. This will remove as much air from the container possible, which in turn will allow the beets to keep for longer.
All in all, dehydrating beets isn’t difficult and should be most rewarding—well, that is as long as you follow the right steps and ensure proper storage.