For the gardeners reading, you are probably looking for a solution an abundance of this plentiful gourd. Although one zucchini plant is usually enough for a family of 4, who can resist planting 2 or 3, just in case? No one.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, no problem. This guide will give you tips for dehydrating in your oven as well. In addition, read on to find out tips for how to best store and use your dehydrated zoodles.
Choosing the Right Zukes
Dehydrating is one of several ways to preserve the summer harvest, and zoodles are a great choice because they are already so thin that they dry out quickly. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can also slice your zukes into thin strips and lay them out in a single layer on your dehydrator trays.
Of course, if you are spiralizing, you will need to catch the young gourds before their seeds develop.
For slicing strips, choose mature, but not over mature zukes for the best results. I find the giants that went a few days too many in the garden to yield a finished product that is slightly chalky and unappealing.
Wash thoroughly and dry before slicing. Take off the ends and, if necessary, cut in half lengthwise to scoop out any seeds.
Remember that your zooles are mostly water. When you dehydrate them, they will shrink in size by a large margin. The thinnest settings on your spiralizer will be so thin when you are finished drying that you won’t have much left to work with.
Use a medium thickness setting for both noodles and ribbons. Anything less than 1/8” is probably shy of what you are looking for in a finished product.
How to Dry in a Dehydrator
You will not need much heat to dehydrate your zucchini noodles. Go for the lowest setting or 95-115°F for best results. The time will vary on a lot of factors, but plan on 2-8 hours.
Keep testing your drying zoodles until they are brittle. If you can still bend them, they still have too much moisture to be safely stored.
Drying Zucchini Noodles in an Oven
If you do not have a food dehydrator, don’t despair! You can also use an oven to dry them out. Simply preheat your oven to 200°F and grease a baking sheet with some olive oil or cooking spray. Then, lay them out in a single layer. Bake for 2-3 hours, checking in on them occasionally.
You know they are done when they are brittle instead of flexible.
Storing Dried Zucchini
Vacuum Sealed Bags
If you have access to a vacuum sealer, this is probably the most efficient method for long term dry storage. Be thinking about portions that will be handy for use in recipes later.
If you plan to keep your noodles long through the drying process for use whole in a later recipe, this is the way to go. The long noodles will be difficult to cram into hard side containers. The bags are more forgiving of weird shapes, saving you space in your pantry.
Canning jars give you a fast, airtight storage option. However, because dried zucchini noodles are such an odd shape, this is not the most efficient method unless you plan to chop them up for recipe ready additions. Personally, I only find myself using dried zoodles in this way so this is my storage method of choice.
Invest in some individual sized silica packets if you plan on doing any dried storage in volume. These things are amazing at keeping moisture down in your containers, drastically improving shelf life.
Cool and Dark
Light and heat are the enemies of long term storage, particularly with dried goods. Make sure your pantry offers respite from both of these destructive forces for the best results with your long-term food storage.
How to Use Dehydrated Zucchini Noodles
Rehydrate as Pasta:
The texture of rehydrated zoodles is a bit chewier than when you use them fresh, and some consider this a bonus. However, you will not be able to treat your dried zoodles like you would regular pasta. A few minutes under a hard boil will disintegrate them into flavorless mush.
Instead, soak in very hot water (better yet, stock!) for about 10 minutes. Finish then in a medium-high sauté pan with some olive oil before topping with your favorite sauce.
Crumble for Adding to Recipes:
I also just use them dry, adding them directly:
- Chop into small pieces and add to dips
- Add to casseroles where they will absorb some excess moisture
- Drop into soups or stews at the last minute
- Add to granola mix for a vitamin boost
- Use it dry as a topping for salad or baked potatoes
Don’t be intimidated by dehydrating, either in the oven or with your dehydrator. The process is simple and the possibilities of how to use your finished product are endless.