How to Dehydrate Without a Dehydrator

As I’ve lamented time and time again, I do not own a dehydrator. I can’t effectively draw moisture out of kale chips, juice pulp crackers, or seed-based flatbreads. I can’t set my machine to 115° and let it whir for hours on end. I can’t attend the seances or vegetable-drying fiestas I know all those raw food bloggers host. I can’t call myself a true raw foodie.

But you know what? Raw food doesn’t have to mean shelling out big bucks for specialized equipment like dehydrators, Vita-Mixes, or juicers. If I want to produce slightly more cooked versions of classic raw dishes then by jove, I will, and the dehydrating police can’t stop me!

After weeks of sighing and exiting out of browser windows featuring recipes for raw flax crackers and the like, I finally built up the courage to experiment withy dehydrating in my very own oven. Since raw food technically can never be exposed to temperatures above 115°F, my 170°-minimum oven will never produce completely authentic raw fare, but since I don’t abide by a strict raw diet in any sense, that’s fine by me! I followed Gena’s recipe for Sweet and Light Crackers made with carrots, apples, dates, and flaxseed meal as my very first attempt at oven-dehydrated “raw” crackers.

Alas, just as my blender floated to kitchen appliance heaven, my food processor slowly fades into oblivion after losing its handle and the tiny mechanism that pushes the button activating the blade. Thus, I’m stuck shoving a pencil into the button to operate the dying machine.

How to Dehydrate Without a Dehydrator

You will need:

  • 1 recipe for raw crackers, whirred in a food processor and ready to spread on a baking sheet
  • Teflex baking mat or parchment paper
  • Tin foil
  • An oven (a toaster oven with a baking setting also works.)

Preheat your oven to its lowest setting (mine is 170°F).

Spread your pre-cracker goo onto a baking sheet lined with a Teflex baking mat or parchment paper. Make sure you spread it thinly and evenly, lest it won’t properly dehydrate or dehydrate in some spots but not others.

 Stick the tray into the oven, propping the door open with a rolled-up tin foil “snake.” If you really want to ensure proper dehydration, place a fan in front of the oven to allow for air circulation.

 

“Dehydrate” for about 4-5 hours or until the cracker sheet feels stiff and dry to the touch. Carefully peel it off the baking sheet and cut into cracker shapes. Place on wire rack to allow the crackers to completely harden.

Spread with nut butters, hummus, jams, or whatever suits your fancy. TA-DA! You’ve just created semi-raw crackers WITHOUT the aid of an expensive dehydrator. Take that, you raw foodies and your Vita-Mix ceremonies.

 

 

How-To featured on Finding Vegan.

Comment Provoking Questions: Have you ever had the urge to attempt a raw recipe but couldn’t because you didn’t have a dehydrator? Did you feel excluded from the raw food community? Have you made raw crackers before? If so, what is your favorite combination of veggies and fruits to use?

Until next time, Ali.

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52 thoughts on “How to Dehydrate Without a Dehydrator

  1. Great idea! I always get so jealous when I see raw cracker recipes because I don’t own a dehydrator. It’s amazing how the oven stays warm even when it’s off. I’m glad now I can make them myself!

  2. Hi Ali! I came across your post on reddit.com & loved the article. I used to do this for raw kale chips, but it always bugged me not knowing if they were *truly* raw. I can be too picky sometimes. I just took the plunge & ordered an Excalibur dehydrator this week. I’m so excited! It’s a key investment in my raw vegan culinary adventures. I am going to try my hand at a cardboard solar dehydrator, and will let you how it goes.

    In the meantime, check out my new raw/vegan/craft blog: http://bearue.wordpress.com

    Thanks for sharing!

    Love & light,
    Bea
    (pronounced “bayah”)

    • Thanks a bunch!
      I definitely look forward to hearing how your dehydrator works out–let me know if it was worth it to buy one.
      I’ll also give your blog a visit and hope to hear from you again.
      –Sincerely, Ali.

  3. I’m ready to start down the road to rawness after flirting with it for a couple of years now. One thing that has always put me off is the ‘fussiness’ of it all and the cost. You’ve given me some inspiration with this post, no more excuses! Thanks :).

    • Congratulations! Raw food definitely does not have to be complicated–it’s just fruit and veggies, for goodness sake! How simple can you get? And you certainly don’t need fancy equipment–your oven can double as a dehydrator and your blender as a juicer. If you’d like more guidance on straightforward raw living, I’d definitely recommend choosingraw.com. Good luck on you raw journey!

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  5. My oven’s lowest setting is also 170. But if I press ‘hold warm’ it lets me go down to 145. That’s how I dehydrate my raw treats.

  6. A great post… I just started flirting with raw food and have a few dehydrator recipes but no dehydrator. It looks like we have the same oven so I was thrilled to read this! thanks so much!!!

    • I’m so glad you found it helpful! I used to often lament my lack of a dehydrator, but honestly, I’ve had great success simply using my oven–it produces the same quality of raw foods without an expensive piece of added equipment.

  7. This is genius!! I am so trying this tomorrow. I was humming and haaaaing about forking out for a dehydrator just to make a healthy cracker. Now I know the oven can work thank you so much! Btw eating ‘raw’ kale is actually not very good for you over time. Some greens are mean’t to be slightly cooked to make them safely digestable and Kale is one of them so bring on the oven made Kale chips too :D:D

    • I’ve found that when dehydrating in the oven, it’s unnecessary to flip over whatever you’re making. However, since I don’t know your particular oven or the consistency of this particular recipe, I can’t give you an exact amount of time for how long it will take to fully dry the crackers. I’d check every hour, just to be safe, but again, you need not flip the crackers. Happy dehydrating!

  8. Thank you for this wonderful post! Your oven crackers came out great. Great way to make some semi-raw crackers without breaking the bank.

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  10. Thank you for sharing this clever method! I, too, don’t have a dehydrator or don’t plan to get one since I travel so much. But this method is definitely helpful! I love the foil “tail” idea! Thank you again :)

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  12. Hooray hooray hooray for this rather brave post! Unfortunately so many of the raw foodists can be rather… militant, so I try to avoid reading more than recipes for the fear of being ashamed at doing it all wrong. I’ve had many a discontented sigh over a recipe I cannot try because I don’t have a dehydrator before it dawned on me that no one other than myself is monitoring how strictly I adhere to the recipe. A dehydrator is just too expensive for my pocket and if the oven does the job okay then why not? I’m new to the scene, certainly not 100% raw and don’t actually see what is so wrong with that… I believe it is all about keeping it in balance – anything in excess is bad for you. I’m trying to be as compassionate and responsible a veg as possible, but sometimes I just have to cook my food. So, I’ll continue my sometimes half-way approach to raw eating and even gladly cheat on special occasions. My biggest learning from raw food was the simple essentials that makes vegan food super tasty. Now that I know how to make nut ‘cheeses’, dips and spreads and have started marinating and fermenting and using raw veggies to make mock noodles and such my world has expanded greatly! Slightly-baked-by-oven-dehydration isn’t a crime and my kitchen is outside the raw food police’s jurisdiction :)

    • So true, Emma! You have to find the right balance for YOU without worrying about how “pure” you are as a raw foodist. Who cares if you cook some of your food? It’s not like it’s hurting anyone.

  13. Hmmm, wondering if our method of making yogurt from raw milk would work. We want to keep our yogurt at approximately 105 degrees F, so depending on the weather, we just put 1 or 2 small lamps with incandescent bulbs in the oven. It makes it just warm enough for the yogurt.

  14. Hi all – I have a pestle and mortar and creating this raw parmesan is easy peasy in that. It’s not much harder than a food processor. I thought I’d add this as you said your own was on it’s way out! Am just trying this recipe now. My local supermarket caters for students and seemingly none of them like Kale. I’ve just got a HUGE LOAD of it for 80 pence. :-)

  15. Can I use this oven method instead of dehydrator to make vegetable bouillon?? The ingredients used to make bouillon are:
    Leeks, tomatoes, celery, celery roots, carrots, clove , garlic, shallots, cilantro.

    After whirring in a food processor can I use oven for dehydrating the paste so that I can make bouillon powder for long shelf use?? Since there is more salt in bouillon paste, solidifying in freezer is not possible. So I prefer making bouillon powder. Please advice

  16. Hello Ali, I love the way you think. My sister is a raw foodie and has been for like 18 yrs. When I told her I wanted to try it as well, she got over zealous and inundated me with all kinds of suggestions and totally turned me off being raw. I am going to try this again without my sister knowing.. lol and no I do not have the money to buy all the expensive equipment she was telling me I needed to get. Thank you for this blog, I now know I do NOT have to buy a dehydrator … you are awesome!!!! :)

  17. Very helpful! I was looking at dehydrators and in my head thinking “surely I can just use my oven!” Will give it a go later!

  18. Hi Ali. The lowest temp on my oven is 70° but I’ve set it to 105°. Will this take longer to dehydrate?
    Also, the oven can be set on with grill and oven, or just oven. Is just oven the setting I want?

    Hope these work, I’m starving! !

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