I’m not new to dehydrating. But I am new to this new commercial dehydrator we recently purchased. I am used to using really old, round, vertically stacked dehydrators without the ability to control the temperature. I had to constantly watch it to make sure the contents on the bottom rack didn’t burn, rotating the trays throughout the process. Honestly, it was a pain in the neck. When we made a cross-country move 3 years ago, I decided to donate my two dehydrators to the Goodwill store, and hit the road. I thought it was a great excuse to buy a new one once we moved. As many of you know, making a cross-country move is not cheap! When setting up house in our new location, there were so many other priorities we had to tend to, and a dehydrator went by the wayside. Here is is 3 years later, and we FINALLY purchased a seriously great dehydrator: all stainless steel, 10 racks, temperature and time controls, drip catch tray, etc. etc. The first thing my husband wanted to try was beef jerky. Of course! He’s an avid meat lover. But my main purpose was to have this dehydrator set up in time to preserve veggies from our garden. Well, that time is upon us! We have already harvested a small zucchini from our own garden, and someone I met recently gave us two larger zucchinis from her own garden. Time to play with the dehydrator now! Woot Woot!
This recipe I’m going to share with you came from my dehydrating “bible”. I tweaked it a little; instead of using their recipe for homemade lemon-pepper seasoning, I used a store-bought jar I had on hand. I’ll let you know at the conclusion, how it turned out. Keep reading!
- Sharp Knife or Mandolin
- Lemon-Pepper Seasoning
(This yields about 2 Tbsp worth of seasoning, so depending on how much zucchini you have, or if you want to make a big batch to store for later, you will have to increase the amount of ingredients.)
- 1 Tbsp minced dried lemon zest
- 1 1/4 tsp ground white or black pepper
- 3/4 tsp dried chopped onion
- 3/4 tsp crushed dried fennel, coriander, celery seed, or a combination thereof
- 1/2 tsp crushed dried bay or parsley leaves
- 1/4 tsp crushed red thyme leaves
- Just mix all the ingredients together and set aside.
Preparing the Zucchini:
Choose zucchini that has not grown so large that the center is filled with seeds. It must be firm and not yet developed any seeds, or at least very few.
Preheat your dehydrator to 125º – 135º F.
Wash and pat dry the zucchini. Cut the stem and flower ends off and discard (or compost them).
Cut zucchini on the diagonal, or straight across, into 1/8″ slices. I used my mandolin with the wavy blade attachment and was done slicing in no time.
Place the slices into a large bowl, sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning, and toss until all the chips are coated.
Arrange the slices on the drying trays in a single layer without overlapping.
Stack your trays in the dehydrator and dry until crisp (4 to 8 hours, depending on the humidity in your area)
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one year.
If I had to do it over again, I would USE THE RECIPE instead of grabbing the lemon-pepper seasoning off the shelf. The results were VERY SALTY, and actually inedible. But, waste not want not: I’ll grind it up and use it as a “zucchini salt” in soup recipes or other wonderful home-cooked dishes. No worries! My advice to my readers is to simply make your own using the above ingredients, and I think you’ll be much more satisfied with the results. Also, because there was so much salt in the store-bought stuff (sigh…I really should’ve known better), it sucked the moisture out of the zucchini slices very quickly, and when following the timing of the dehydrating process, they got too dry and much of it baked onto the drying racks. It was difficult to peel them up and they’d just break apart. Okay, lesson learned! I’m sharing this with you so you won’t make the same mistake. I hope you try this preservation of zucchini (but please do it the right way) next time you get some from a neighbor or your own garden.