This is a common question to all dehydrated food lovers – can you dehydrate in the convection oven? Food dehydration is the process of taking out the water from the food at a very low temperature so that the nutrients inside the food remain unharmed. In this article, I am going to discuss whether you can use a convection oven for food dehydration. I am going to compare a dehydrator and oven so that you can understand the pros and cons of these two different kitchen appliances while using these for dehydrating your favorite foods.
There are different ways to do this. The most common technique is using a dedicated food dehydrator. We may use an air fryer that dehydrates. Sun-drying is another pristine and natural way of food dehydration. If you do not have access to any of these methods, then using your oven is the only way left for you.
Can I use my convection oven for food dehydration?
Yes, you can use your oven for food dehydration given that your oven has a dehydrator function. Some ovens may not have a dehydrator function but still, you can dehydrate with them by setting the parameters manually.
Some convection ovens neither have a dehydrator option nor have the ambient temperature for food dehydration. In such cases, you may not dehydrate food with them. But you can still try using them and enjoy food chips and consume them instantly.
How can you dehydrate with an oven?
- First, you need to choose fresh fruits or vegetables that you want to dehydrate. If you want to dehydrate ripe fruits, then make sure that they are not too soft. Otherwise, you will be in difficulties while making the slices.
- After you have picked the perfect foods that you want to dry up, you need to wash them and cut them into uniform and thin pieces. Use a sharp knife or a mandoline to ensure uniformity. If the pieces are not uniform, then some of them will be cooked before the others.
- Now place the slices on the tray of the oven. If your convection oven has multiple racks, then try to use all the racks to utilize the maximum capacity. Keep some space between the slices and arrange them in a single layer. Do not overlap the slices.
- Now set the temperature below or equal to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the ideal temperature for food dehydration regardless of any cooking appliance you use.
- If your convection oven does not allow you that low temperature, then set the temperature as low as possible. But remember, dehydrating at a temperature higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit will degrade some of the nutrition values.
- Cooking time depends on many factors such as the type of convection oven you are using, type o food, and so on. Therefore, the best way is to monitor the food every two hours and stop the oven when you are satisfied.
How long can you preserve the food dehydrated with an oven?
If you have dehydrated at the right temperature that I have mentioned above, then you can preserve the food for years. But make sure that you have kept the food in a vacuum-sealed jar or bag. Otherwise, moisture can seep through and rehydrate the foods. It will create molds and your foods get spoiled.
On the other hand, if you have dehydrated at a higher temperature in case your convection oven does not allow you the ambient temperature for food dehydration, then the foods can not be stored for a long time. It makes food chips rather than dehydrated food.
Advantages of using a convection oven as a dehydrator
- You do not need to purchase a standalone additional food dehydrator. Therefore, it saves your money and some space on the countertop.
- There is a lot of good air fryer and convection oven combo in the market that provides relatively good value for the money compared to a dehydrator.
- Convection ovens that dehydrate usually allow multiple cooking functions such as air fry, roast, toast, bake, dehydrate, broil, and so on.
Disadvantages of using a convection oven as a dehydrator
- Not all convection ovens have a dehydrator option. Therefore, the foods may get overcooked.
- Convection ovens are relatively costly, although they provide good value for money.
- Dehydrators are a better option to dehydrate in a large amount of food at a time as they have more racks.
- Ovens often can not ensure uniform heat distribution as the dehydrators ensure.
If you dehydrate occasionally, then convection ovens are not a bad option. But I would suggest getting a dedicated dehydrator for regular food dehydration. Although high-end convection ovens are good at food dehydration, I will still suggest you set the temperature carefully while you dehydrate with it. Otherwise, the nutrients may get destroyed.