- When possible, preserve fresh, locally-grown winter squash for the best quality and nutritional value.
- Know when fresh winter squash is available in your state with this seasonal food guide.
- If this is your first time drying or it has been awhile, it is recommended that you read General Drying Information before beginning.
1. Selection & Ingredients
- Select vegetables at peak quality and flavor. Do not use vegetables that show signs of decay, mold, or bruising. These defects may affect all pieces being dried.
- 11 lbs of winter squash will yield ¾ lb of dried winter squash (appx 3 ½ pints).
- Ice is needed for cooling the squash following blanching.
- Citric acid (optional)- 1 teaspoon (4 grams) in a gallon of water for blanching step as an anti-microbial agent
- Use clean, food-grade dehydration equipment or oven with drying trays or racks that allow for good air circulation.
- Many types of food dehydrators can be used and are explained in detail in Food Dehydrators.
- Conditioning containers
- Large, clean plastic or glass container with lid
- Storage containers
- Clean, dry home canning jars, plastic freezer containers with tight-fitting lids or plastic freezer bags
- Vacuum packaging is also a good storage option
- Large covered cooking pot (for blanching)
- Metal blanching basket, cheesecloth or mesh bag (for blanching vegetables prior to drying)
- Colander, strainer or slotted spoon
- Large bowl (for cooling blanched vegetables in ice water)
- Hot pads
- Cutting board
- Vegetable peeler
- Spoon for removing seeds and pulp
- Timer or clock
3. Prepare Ingredients
Pre-treating vegetables by blanching is recommended to enhance quality and safety. Blanching improves color and texture, relaxes tissues so pieces dry faster, reduces the time needed to rehydrate vegetables, and helps to destroy potentially harmful bacteria.
- Thoroughly wash squash.
- Cut into pieces. Remove seeds and cavity pulp.
- Cut into 1" strips.
- Peel rind.
- Cut strips crosswise into pieces about 1/8” thick.
- Fill large cooking pot with 1 gallon of water and bring to a rolling boil.
- If desired, add 1 teaspoon (4 grams) citric acid to the water as anti-microbial agent.
- Put no more than four cups of the vegetable pieces in a blanching basket, or a piece of cheesecloth or cloth mesh bag with ends secured.
- Lower vegetable bag into boiling water, making sure water covers the vegetables.
- Shake bag so hot water reaches all pieces.
- Blanch for time shown in table below for your elevation:
Blanching Time for Drying
|Below 5,000 ft.
||5,000 ft. and above
- Start timing as soon as water returns to a boil.
- Monitor heat to ensure continuous boiling.
- Remove vegetables from boiling water and submerge briefly in a large bowl of ice, only long enough to stop the cooking action.
- NOTE: Do not cool to room temperature.
- Drain on paper towel or cloth.
- Repeat process until entire batch is blanched and cooled.
- Arrange sliced squash in single layers on drying trays.
- Dry at 140 degrees F (60°C) in an oven or dehydrator.
- If necessary, turn large pieces over every 3 to 4 hours during the drying period.
- Vegetables can scorch easily toward the end of drying, so monitor more closely as drying nears completion.
- Dried squash should be tough to brittle.
- Total Drying Time: 10-16 hours in a dehydrator (may take up to twice as long in a conventional oven)
- Condition squash by placing cooled, dried vegetables loosely in large plastic or glass containers, about two-thirds full.
- Lightly cover and store in a dry, well-ventilated place for 4 to 10 days.
- Stir or shake containers daily to separate pieces.
- NOTE: If beads of moisture form inside the container return squash to drying trays for further drying, then repeat the conditioning step.
- Store small amounts of conditioned dried vegetables in moisture-vapor-proof containers or bags.
- Label packages with name of product, date and method of pretreatment and drying.
- Store in a cool, dry, dark place or in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Properly stored, dried vegetables keep well for 6 to 12 months.
- Discard foods that have off odors or show signs of mold.
7. Using Dried Vegetables
- Dried vegetables can be eaten ‘as is’ as a snack or part of a meal.
- Adding dried vegetables directly to soups and stews is the simplest way to rehydrate vegetables.