Do you have zucchini coming out your ears yet? If you planted summer squash in your garden, chances are good that you have more than you can eat fresh. Zucchini has a reputation for being ridiculously prolific. It’s almost magical how quickly they grow.
It’s definitely the season to break out all of your favorite zucchini recipes and share squash with all of your neighbors.
But you don’t have to eat it all fresh. If you’ve run out of ways to use your summer squash fresh and your freezer is full of it, there is yet another way to store your harvest– dehydrating!
Did you know that you can dehydrate zucchini and yellow squash?
I learned how to dehydrate zucchini and yellow squash from my mother-in-law. I enjoyed using it throughout the winter. Here is a step-by-step tutorial to show you how to dehydrate shredded summer squash, but first you might be wondering why you would want to dehydrate zucchini.
What do you do with dehydrated summer squash?
Before you learn how to dehydrate summer squash, you probably want to know what in the world you are going to do with it. I wondered the same thing when I saw my mother-in-law dehydrating zucchini a few years ago.
It turns out that dehydrated summer squash is an excellent way to thicken soups and stews. The squash flavor is mild enough that it can be added to just about any soup without changing the flavor. It’s a great way to add extra nutrients to your meal.
You can even add dehydrated zucchini and yellow squash to homemade tomato sauce made from your own tomato puree. Just follow this tomato sauce recipe and omit the flour and add a cup or two of dehydrated squash (depending on the thickness you want).
How to Dehydrate Summer Squash
1. Prepare your squash
The general rule for the ideal time to pick your zucchini and yellow squash when the flower on the end dies.
There are inevitably those zucchini that hide camouflaged among the leaves until they are enormous. You can still use those zucchini, but you’ll want to scrape out the seeds before grating the zucchini.
Store your squash in the fridge until you have collected enough to fill your dehydrator. Let it warm up to room temperature before grating it. Wash your summer squash in cool water and cut off the stem and flower ends.
2. Grate your squash
You can grate your zucchini any way you like, but if you value your knuckles and fingertips, you’ll probably want to use a food processor of some sort. It’s about a thousand times faster than grating your squash by hand, especially considering you’ll be grating a lot of squash.
3. Fill the dehydrator
We use an Excalibur food dehydrator and absolutely love it. In addition to having lots of space (9 trays = 15 square feet), it’s really nice to have the variable temperature (as opposed to just on/off). There are several versions, but I highly recommend the one in the link as it has a timer. When you’re ready to go to bed, but what you’re drying needs another three hours, you’ll be glad that you can set the timer and the dehydrator will turn itself off.
For most fruits or veggies you will want to spread them evenly, being careful not to overlap so that they dry evenly, but we break that rule with shredded squash.
Fill every tray as full as you can, just so that it still fits between the other trays. As you can see in the picture below, once all the moisture is removed from the squash it really decreases in volume.
Dehydrate at 125 degrees for about 12 hours. The time can vary greatly depending on your dehydrator and how thick you stack your shredded squash. If you want to be technical, it should have 5% of the moisture remaining, but there’s not a good way to test that.
To test if it’s done, take a piece from the center of the tray and let it cool. It’s done when it’s between leathery and brittle.
4. Remove dehydrated squash from trays
The flexible trays of the Excalibur make it easy to remove the squash. Just bend the tray (like you’re going to fold it in half) and peel off the squash. It will be kind of one whole piece.
5. Fill storage bags with dehydrated squash
Stuff as much dehydrated squash as you can into zip-top storage bags. We use quart size. You don’t need to worry about crushing or separating the parts that are stuck together.
6. Freeze bags and store
According to the dehydrating experts, you should stick bags of dehydrated food in the freezer for four days. After that you can store the bags of dehydrated squash in your pantry or food storage. As with any preserved food, a cool, dark place is best.
Enjoy by adding dehydrated summer squash to soups and sauces to thicken. You can also add it to this homemade spaghetti sauce.
How much does it make?
We can fit 18-20 lbs of squash into the Excalibur (9 trays). The picture below is a half bushel box with just over 18 pounds of squash. After it’s dehydrated, it can all be stuffed into three quart-size freezer bags.
How about you?
- Have you ever thought about dehydrating zucchini or yellow squash?
- What’s you’re favorite way to use summer squash?
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