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Raw Food Dehydration Basics

This week’s contest winner is Noelle from!

I have written a couple of posts on dehydration but it is always good to post a little dehydration information refresher. So…here are my top hints and suggestions about dehydrating food.

1. Temperature – You will notice that in many of the recipes, I start at a higher temperature (normally 145 degrees) and then after a period of time, usually 1/2  to 1 hour, reduce the temperature to 115. Yes, this is still raw, and no you are not compromising the nutrients. The thing to remember here is that the FOOD temperature never goes above 115. In the beginning of dehydration, the food is busy kicking off moisture and stays quite cool. Starting at a higher temperature helps the food to do this more efficiently and reduces dehydration time. It also helps prevent potential fermentation and turning your dehydrator into a petri dish. Important: you must remember to turn the dehydrator down after the initial time period or you will essentially cook your food, and destroy the nutrients. I always set a kitchen timer so I don’t forget.

2. Time – Keep in mind that dehydration times are suggested times. There are many things that will influence how fast your dehydrator finishes the food. Humidity, air temp, the type of unit you have, the ingredients you use. There are certain foods that should be dehydrated until very dry, other things that you will want a little moisture still in them (ie the oatmeal cookies). I have also noticed that if you leave raw food recipes that are made with coconut oil or butter in the dehydrator too long, you can get a soapy taste. Best bet? Check your food periodically.

3. Sweet vs Savory – I never dehydrate sweet and savory at the same time. The savory can completely infuse your sweet creations with the wonderful taste and aroma of garlic and onions or the spices that you have used. While I love garlic and onions, I don’t like them in my cookies!

4. Being Economical – I remember reading an article once on a raw food site that stated dehydrating was much more economical than using an oven. A little red flag went up for me. You are using a much lower temperature but you are doing it for hours vs minutes. I actually researched the energy units used and there wasn’t a huge difference. But you can use your dehydrator economically. Plan on doing a few recipes at a time, so it is always full. If you dehydrate your almond pulp for almond flour, freeze it and then throw a few trays in any time you have extra space. Think in terms of having your dehydrator full when used. It only takes a little advanced planning. I even plan to spout in the winter when the dehydrator will be running so the sprouts, sitting by the dehydrator, will enjoy the warmth.

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  1. Nicole wrote on February 1, 2014

    Thank you for your wonderful site! I’d like to follow up on the previous date question. I’m new to using the dehydrator, and was interested in trying a raw date cookie recipe. Can I use a bag of dried dates, as I am unable to find nice fresh dates while they are not in season. Would it be beneficial to soak the packaged dried dates in water before combining the ingredients for cookies to put in the dehydrator? Thank you!

  2. Susan wrote on June 13, 2013

    What a wonderful question, Katherine! As long as the food temperature stays under 115 degrees, all of the nutrients stay in tact. When the temperature goes above that, you lose nutrients. So, dehydrated food (as long as the temp is low) is not cooked food. It is still considered raw. Only the water has been removed, it has not been cooked. Thanks so much for asking!

  3. Katherine wrote on June 13, 2013

    what’s the point, exactly, of dehydrating food and calling it raw ?

  4. clarissa wrote on March 9, 2013

    I just love your site more and more that I am o it Susan and Thank You for all you provide. I wanted to ask, are you using the Excalibur 9 tray? I love mine and have dried a lot of fruit and veg on it so I look forward to making recipes now with it. So glad I got one years ago and all of the things I could have been making but did not know at the time! Thanks!

    • Susan wrote on March 9, 2013

      I use the TSM. It is my favorite. Much more quiet than the excalibur and a lot more internal space.

  5. Enid wrote on March 2, 2013

    RAW food has opened up a whole new world for me, such a lot of new information and sometimes contradicting. It takes a lot more effort to have food ready for consumption but what fabulous flavors blend together that I would not have dreamed off. Be gone with bland traditional salads, let’s go raw!

  6. Muse wrote on March 28, 2012


    Is there much difference between food dehydrators? Should I be looking for anything in particular? Ive been having a look around. Didnt realise they are really quite cheap. There’s nothing holding me back now.

    Please recommend any brands or give advice.

    thanks a mill

  7. yasamin wrote on October 31, 2011

    hi susan .you are wonderful. thanks for all nice recipes . my question is about date . can i dehydrate them. when i use date in cookie or sweet cracker it gets a sour taste. is that because of date?

    • Susan wrote on October 31, 2011

      Honestly, it shouldn’t be because of the date. Dates are already dried and the flavor shouldn’t change with dehydration.

  8. Valerie wrote on July 23, 2011

    Sorry, folks–but food+heat=NOT raw! I have a bachelor of sciences degree in foods and nutrition. I enjoy both cooked AND raw foods…and please know that cooked doesn’t equate to “bad” or non-nutritive. Tomatoes, for instance, are more nutritious COOKED because heat releases a majority of the fruit’s lycopene. Everything, healthy and not, cooked and not, can be enjoyed in moderation.

    • Susan wrote on July 23, 2011

      Valerie: There is an a ton of information out there that states if you keep the food temperature under 116 degrees, the enzymes and many of the vitamins and minerals will stay intact. Higher than that and you destroy them. Yes, to each their own but since this is a raw food site, that is what we focus on. It is up to each individual to decide how much raw they want in their diet. Your last statement that EVERYTHING healthy and not can be enjoyed in moderation is true but not for people interested in optimal health. You should try going 100 % raw for a couple of weeks to see the difference. Until you do, you honestly do not have a platform to speak from. Another interesting point. Yes, the lycopene in tomatoes does increase when you cook them. But other nutrients will decrease. Watermelon has much more lycopene in it that tomatoes. It is all relative.

  9. Susan wrote on November 26, 2010

    I have honestly never, ever had a problem with macaroons holding together. You need to pack them into a ball but I am not sure what you are doing to have them fall apart….

  10. Sheila wrote on November 26, 2010

    I made these and the balls did not hold together well. any hints on making these and things like macaroons to stick better. What texture should they be when dehydrated?


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