This page covers several methods of dehydrating zucchini, and how to use dried zucchini in backpacking meals. Zucchini can be cut into zucchini chips, noodles, cubes, or skins; and it can be dried raw or cooked. You can dry zucchini plain, or you can season it. I’ll also show how to dehydrate zucchini ratatouille and how to blend zucchini with potatoes for soup.
The first tip for dehydrating zucchini is to choose small to medium-sized zucchinis that are fresh and firm. You don’t want a zucchini that bends easily, as that indicates it has been out of the field too long. Large zucchinis have tougher skins, and the seeds are more fully formed. If you still want to dehydrate a big fat zucchini, then cut it open and scrape out the seeds. Then steam the inside and outside parts separately until soft. Run the cooked inside parts of the zucchini through a blender with steamed potatoes. You’ll find the directions further down the page for how to dehydrate zucchini into bark for soup.
The fastest way to cut zucchini for drying is to cut it crosswise into coin shapes, often called zucchini chips. If dehydrating zucchini raw, then slice it thinly, a ¼-inch thick or less. If steaming zucchini before drying it, then cut it thicker, closer to ½-inch thick. For use in backpacking meals, zucchini slices can be cut again into quarters.
Many of the nutrients in zucchini are located in the skin, so hang on to that valuable resource. To make dehydrated meals with varied texture and color, zucchini skins can be cut off and the inside of the zucchini cut into ½-inch cubes. Dehydrating zucchini parts separately is like getting two vegetables for the price of one. The lighter inside part is a good choice to make soup powder that is light in color.
Wash zucchini and cut it into three or four sections. With the cut-side facing up, slice down the sides as shown in the photo above. You’ll end up with a pile that looks like green shingles. Cut these into smaller pieces. Then, cut the rectangular inside part into ½-inch cubes, or into thinner zucchini noodles as described below.
Folks looking for a gluten-free and low-carbohydrate alternative to pasta can make tasty meals by dehydrating zucchini noodles. Also known as zoodles, they don’t resemble wheat pasta in any way after your rehydrate them. They will be much softer than real pasta and not particularly pretty, but the noodle shape will add a new look to a meal without pasta. Medium-sized zucchinis are best for making zucchini noodles, since large zucchinis have more fully developed seeds. Begin by slicing off the skin, as shown above, so that you have 3–4 rectangular blocks of stripped zucchini. Turn each block on its side and cut it into rows by slicing down at 3/8 inch intervals. Stack a few of the slices and cut down again to the same width.
The photo below shows zucchini noodles and skins from one medium-sized zucchini on an Excalibur Dehydrator tray.
You want the zucchini noodles to hold their shape, so do not pretreat by salting or streaming. Simply cut and place them on dehydrator trays in a single layer without nonstick sheets.
Note: If you cut the noodles too thin, as shown on the right in the photo below, they will quickly break into pieces when dry.
Dehydrate zucchini noodles at 135°F (57°C) for 6–8 hours. Dried zucchini noodles will be slightly pliable if they were cut to no less than 3/8-inch widths. Thinly cut zucchini noodles will be brittle and will break into little pieces.
* You can also use dried zucchini slices or cubes.
On the Trail:
Combine all ingredients in pot with water and soak five minutes. Bring to a boil, and then transfer pot to an insulating pot cozy for fifteen minutes.
Dehydrating zucchini that has been steamed first will result in zucchini that rehydrates well and is less chewy in meals, compared to raw zucchini. Zucchini chips will turn out crisper if you steam the slices before drying them. You have to slice the zucchini chips thick if you steam them, otherwise they will fall apart. Since you want zucchini noodles to be a little chewy, dehydrate them raw.
Place cut zucchini in a steaming basket inside a pot with a ½-inch of water. If you skinned the zucchini, steam the parts separately. Steam for six minutes. Going over six minutes may result in mushy zucchini.
Savory seasonings add a little zip to dried zucchini. If dehydrating zucchini raw, cut the zucchini into your desired shapes, and then add seasoning to it in a bowl. Salt will draw moisture out of the zucchini and will help it to take on the flavors. Let the seasoned zucchini sit for a few minutes before drying it.
For steamed zucchini, add seasonings after it is steamed, in a bowl, just like raw zucchini.
Seasoning mix for 1½–2 pounds of zucchini (680–900 g):
¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp vegetable bouillon, and ½ tsp tomato sauce powder. Adjust any of these suggestions to your flavor preferences.
Photo above: Steamed and seasoned zucchini trimmings on dehydrator tray.
Dehydrate zucchini at 135°F (57°C). Times will vary (6–10 hours) depending on how thick you cut it and how much zucchini you put on the trays. Thinly-cut zucchini noodles will dry the fastest. Dried zucchini will be pliable, but not at all damp to the touch.
Spread zucchini directly on mesh dehydrator sheets without nonstick sheets.
Photo below shows dehydrated zucchini. Since the cubes start out with a lot of moisture, they will shrink quite a bit. Expect the light parts to take on a light golden tint.
If dehydrating zucchini chips raw, then slice them thinly. Season as previously described, or dry them without seasoning. Place in a single layer directly on mesh dehydrator sheets. Dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) for 8–10 hours.
If steaming the zucchini first, slice the zucchini chips thick, closer to ½ inch. The photo below shows sliced zucchini on dehydrator tray after steaming and seasoning.
Which method is best—raw or steamed—for dehydrating zucchini chips?
Although steamed zucchini chips start out thicker, they actually dry skinnier than raw zucchini. The texture is almost crispy when the steamed zucchini chips are fully dry. Chips dried raw are a little chewier; and my taste buds find that steamed zucchini chips are more flavorful.
The photo below shows raw dehydrated zucchini chips on the left, and steamed on the right.
One of the variations of potato bark is vegetable-potato bark. The inclusion of vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, or zucchini, increases the nutritional content and reduces the starch. After dehydrating zucchini-potato bark, grinding the bark into powder ensures it will rehydrate well as a thick soup.
Add two cups of water and ten grams of bouillon powder to a pot with a steaming basket. Place peeled and chunked zucchini and potatoes in basket and steam for eight minutes.
Allow contents to cool slightly, and then transfer zucchini, potatoes, and all liquid to a blender. Blend until smooth.
Spread blended mixture thinly on dehydrator trays using nonstick sheets. The photo below shows 1¼ cups of mixture before and after drying on an Excalibur Dehydrator tray. This recipe will produce approximately 2½ cups of blended mixture, so two Excalibur trays will be used.
Dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) for 6–8 hours. Dried bark will be brittle.
Grind bark into powder.
Yield: Approximately 8 tablespoons of soup powder. (96 g)
I included dehydrated zucchini skins in the vegetable assortment with corn and carrots.
On the Trail:
Combine dried meat and vegetables with water and soak five minutes. Bring to a boil, and then add zucchini-potato soup powder. Continue cooking for one minute, and then transfer pot to an insulating pot cozy for fifteen minutes.
For thermos cooking, add all ingredients at the same time.
Use just enough cooking oil to fry the vegetables on medium heat, starting with the onions for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables one at a time, cooking a few minutes each before adding the next. The best order of adding them is onions, peppers, garlic, and zucchini. Add the herbs when you add the zucchini.
Once the vegetables and herbs are well combined and steaming, add the diced tomatoes. Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for ten minutes. Adjust seasonings and salt and pepper as needed.
Allow ratatouille to cool, and then spread it out on dehydrator trays covered with nonstick sheets. Try to keep any pieces from overlapping each other. Use all juices.
Dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) for 12–14 hours.
Stir ratatouille around 2 or 3 times during the dehydration process to speed up dehydration.
Dried Yield: 1–1½ cup dried.
On the Trail:
Rehydrate ¾ cup dried zucchini ratatouille (45 g) with ¾ cup water (177 ml). Bring to a boil and then transfer pot to insulating pot cozy for fifteen minutes.
For a low-carb, high-protein meal, add ¼–½ cup dried chicken or beans, and increase water by ¼–½ cup.
For a hearty backpacking meal with more carbohydrates, combine ½ cup dried rice or macaroni, ⅓ cup dried zucchini ratatouille, and ⅓ cup dried chicken or beans. Rehydrate with 1½ cups water (355 ml).
* A ¼ cup of dried zucchini skins will weigh more than zucchini which has been peeled.
On the Trail:
Combine all ingredients except parmesan cheese in pot with water, soak five minutes, and then bring to a boil for one minute. Transfer pot to an insulating pot cozy for fifteen minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.
You’ll find a recipe for homemade tomato sauce powder in Recipes for Adventure II: The Best of Trail Bytes.
* I used a combination of dehydrated zucchini cubes and skins, but dried zucchini chips will work also.
On the Trail:
Combine meat and zucchini in pot with water, soak five minutes, and then bring to a boil for one minute. Transfer pot to an insulating pot cozy for fifteen minutes. Stir in slices of cheese, and then top with sunflower seeds and crumbled crackers.
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