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Raw Food Dehydration Primer

A lot of the raw food questions that end up in the comment section or in my e-mail inbox are about dehydration and raw food recipes.  I decided it was time for a little dehydration primer.

Here are the top asked questions:

1. What temperature do you need to dehydrate at to keep the food raw.

There are a few different opinions here but through my research, I am comfortable at 116-118 degrees. Some suggest 105 to make sure your food never, ever gets too hot but honestly, I think that encourages fermentation and possible bacteria growth.

2. I notice that you start your dehydration at 140-145 and then drop the temperature after a period of time. How does the food stay raw?

Even though I have addressed this many, many times, it still comes up with regularity. And I understand why. It is a little confusing. I start the dehydration high for a couple of reasons. First, it is important to note that the FOOD never reaches the higher temperature. In fact, during the beginning of dehydration, the food is just throwing off water and actually stays very cool. Starting at a higher temperature shortens dehydration time and also helps discourage fermentation from the food being in the dehydrator too long.

3. How come my dehydration times are different from your dehydration times?

Many things affect dehydration. The current air humidity, how your dehydrator works, what kind of dehydrator you have, and even how thick you spread your mixture. I had a friend who couldn’t understand why her crackers were taking so much longer than mine. Her’s were quite a bit thicker than the 1/4″ I specified! Really, the thing to do is use the times as a guide, and watch your food as it dehydrates.

4. What functions do you need on a dehydrator?

Most important is a temperature control. Even with one, I would always suggest you test your dehydrator once in a while to make sure you know what temperature it is dehydrating at. Get a decent oven thermometer and check it occasionally so you can be comfortable. A timer is also a very nice feature but not completely necessary.

5. A few other things to keep in mind:

-Rotating trays is not completely necessary but does make a difference. The top and the back are quickest area to dry, with a back mounted fan.

-Pick the freshest food to dehydrate. You don’t want to start with food that is at all spoiled.

-Make sure you don’t over dehydrate. Your food will get way too hard and dried out. Some recipes do call for food to be completely dry.

I hope this helps answer your dehydration questions!

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  1. Bette wrote on September 2, 2014

    I have owned a dehydrator for 6 years. I stopped using it after 2 years because it was taking too long for the food to dry and I was concerned about bacteria. Of course, I payed no attention to the manufacturer’s suggestion to start at a higher temperature. Thank you for the tip. My interest in dehydrating has been renewed because I was researching the bioavailability of nutrients in vegetables. In the same vegetable, some nutrients are increased by cooking some are destroyed by heat and some are unavailable when the veggie is eaten raw, eg, carrots and broccoli. So, if I want to get the most from my veggies, I’ll have to include dehydration. I’m dusting off my Excalibur, – now that I know how to use it; ordering your cookbooks,

  2. Sheila wrote on March 4, 2012

    You have several dehydrator brands in your store. Which brand do you recommend for a beginner? Which brand do you use, and how long do they last? Thanks you.

  3. Denise wrote on March 28, 2011

    Thank you……….. I will save this page and review it once in a while………. I love this web site and use a lot of your recipes………..

    Thank you

  4. jean` wrote on February 28, 2011

    thank you, Susan. you are terrific. l think of you as a friend.

    • Susan wrote on March 3, 2011

      Thank you, Jean for letting me know. I am touched.

  5. Teri @globalraw wrote on February 28, 2011


    Great article, very informative! It’s great to see that raw food is ever changing and evolving and that we are constantly looking to perfect techniques to get optimum results.

  6. Jana wrote on February 27, 2011

    Great idea to post about it, thank you!!!

  7. Elizabeth D. wrote on February 26, 2011

    Very good post. Thank you for sharing this important info. So good for those just starting out!
    Peace & Raw Health,

  8. bitt wrote on February 25, 2011

    great advice! I noticed even when I turn the knob of the dehydrator up to 115, the internal temperature is still only 105, so it makes sense to keep it a little higher.

  9. Ciara wrote on February 25, 2011

    You gave some really great tips! I am looking into getting my first dehydrator soon. Do you have any recomendations for beginners?

  10. RawGuru wrote on February 25, 2011

    These are wonderful tips Susan, thank you! The fermentation thing happens a lot i think, way more than people would like to think about. after all, moderately warm moist environments are PERFECT for bacteria. I’ve had to throw out a lot of dehydrated foods until i started cranking the temperature up to 115-118, and 145 if the food starts out very moist and thick like breads and the like.


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