Zucchini is one of the most prolific plants in the backyard vegetable garden. But don’t let your excess zucchini go to waste- learn how to dehydrate zucchini and preserve it for the winter months!
Zucchini is a versatile vegetable in the Cucurbit family. It’s an easy-to-grow summer squash that’s perfect for beginning gardeners and a staple for all backyard growers.
The only not-so-great thing about zucchini (and it’s actually a good thing!) is that sometimes even just one plant can give you so many zucchini that you’ll be bribing the neighbors to take some off your hands!
Luckily, zucchini also preserves very well. It can be frozen, canned, dehydrated, and freeze dried- making it much easier to deal with all the zucchini your garden might be giving you.
Every year I fill my freezer with sliced, diced, and shredded zucchini to use in breads and soups throughout the year. But once I have all I need in the freezer and have eaten all the fresh zucchini I can handle, I like to dehydrate the extra zucchini. Dehydrating is super easy- and there are a lot of different ways to use dried zucchini!
And don’t forget that zucchini is just a type of summer squash. You can use these same instructions for yellow squash or other summer squashes.
There are a couple different options for drying zucchini, so let’s start with my favorite!
How to Dehydrate Zucchini in an Electric Dehydrator
An electric dehydrator is my preferred way of drying zucchini, and here’s why:
- It keeps the zucchini at a controlled temperature, that’s not too high and won’t cook the nutrients out of your zucchini.
- It’s quick! You can dry zucchini in as little as 6 hours (that’s short for drying times!)
- There’s no chance of burning the zucchini
To dry zucchini, start by washing and thoroughly drying your zucchini. I’ll admit that I usually skip this step since my zucchini comes fresh from my organic garden, but you do you.
Start by preparing your zucchini. You can choose to slice it, dice it, chunk it- basically whatever shape you wish. Just remember that the thicker your zucchini pieces, the longer they will take to dry. Thin slices or shreds will dry much faster than thick slices or dices.
Lay the zucchini in a single layer on your dehydrator trays.
Set the temperature on your dehydrator for 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit.
The zucchini should take 8-14 hours to dry completely, depending on the humidity and conditions in your home- and the thickness of your zucchini pieces.
Make sure the zucchini is 100% completely dry before storing to prevent molding and spoilage. Once the zucchini is completely dry, turn off the dehydrator and allow the it to cool to room temperature before storing.
Don’t have a dehydrator? Check out the 11 Best Electric Dehydrators to help you choose one.
How to Dehydrate Zucchini in Your Oven
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven to dry zucchini.
The key to dehydrating zucchini in the oven is to use the lowest temperature possible (or 125 degrees Fahrenheit, if yours goes that low). My oven goes to 145 at the lowest if I use the warming function.
If your oven doesn’t go below 200 degrees, you might want to leave the oven door open a crack to prevent the zucchini from getting too hot and burning.
Place the clean zucchini on a baking sheet in a single layer. Laying the zucchini on a sheet of parchment paper can help prevent sticking.
Cook in an oven, set on the lowest heat setting, until dry and crispy. You may need to turn the baking trays and flip the zucchini a couple of times to get an even dry.
Allow to cool completely before storing.
How to Air Dry Zucchini
You can also air dry or use a solar dehydrator to dry zucchini. This way will take much longer, but it is also free and doesn’t require any special equipment.
To air dry zucchini, I recommend slicing the zucchini very thin to reduce the drying time. Lay the slices on trays covered in clean towels or paper towels. Place the trays in a sunny location where there is good air flow and low humidity. If you choose to dry outside, you might want to invest in some screens to prevent bugs from getting your zucchini.
If the weather is hot and sunny, it can take as little as 2-3 days to dry your zucchini, but it could take much longer.
You can also get a hanging, mesh solar dehydrator, to prevent pests or dust from contaminating your zucchini while it dries.
Again, be sure your zucchini is 100% dry before storing.
I would not recommend sun or air drying zucchini if you live in a very humid area.
How to Store Dried Zucchini
Once your zucchini is completely dry, place it in an air tight, glass container. I prefer mason jars with metal rings/lids since they are air tight and don’t let in any moisture.
Store the glass jar in a cool, dry location that’s not in direct sunlight for maximum shelf life. It should last at least a year if prepared properly.
Please don’t store your dehydrated vegetables in a ziploc bag or other plastic bags, unless you also plan to store them in the freezer. There will be too much moisture in the bag and your food will spoil much quicker.
How to Use Dehydrated Zucchini
Now that you have lots of dried zucchini what should you do with it?? Well, the sky is the limit! That’s the best part about dried zucchini, you can add it to virtually anything and it’s almost undetectable. It’s the perfect way to get a little more veggies in your (or your kids!) diets. Here are a few ideas to think about when dehydrating your own zucchini:
Make Zucchini Flour
I’m sure you’ve heard of kale powder, but did you know you can powder zucchini as well? You can blend up your dehydrated zucchini in a high speed blender and turn it into your own flour!
This is a perfect way to use up those giant zucchini that tend to sneak up on us every summer. You can slice the zucchini- seeds and all- and dehydrate them. Then just blend it smooth and you have your own flour that you can add into anything for an extra dose of veggies!
I’ve added it to my pancakes, breads, sauces and don’t notice a veggie taste at all!
Make Dehydrated Zucchini Chips
You can also slice your zucchini really thin and dry them into your own healthy, oil-free chips! They are crispy like potato chips, so they satisfy the need for something crunchy, but without all the processed junk!
You can even season them like you would any other chips. Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and parmesan cheese are all great options.
These crispy zucchini chips make an excellent healthy snack- and they’re low carb, if that’s your thing.
Check out my article on cucumber chips for inspiration! And the directions would be pretty much the same- just substitute zucchini for the cucumbers.
Make Dried Zucchini Candy
Yes, candy! This is one of my all time favorite recipes for dehydrating zucchini. It’s a little more work, but the result is delicious!
All you need is pineapple juice!
Here’s how to make it: Pineapple Zucchini Candy
More ways to use dried zucchini:
Now if you just have a jar full of sliced/diced dehydrated zucchini, here are a few ways to use it up:
- Add it to your smoothies- add it with frozen blueberries and you won’t even see the green color!
- Toss it in your winter soups or stews
- Add it in your pasta sauce
- Add a bit to your scrambled eggs or omelet
Dried zucchini retains much of it’s original nutrients since it hasn’t been blanched or cooked before drying. You can feel good about making the most of zucchini season and saving money by preserving it at home and not letting it go to waste!
Learn more about growing and using zucchini: