Dehydrating onions and garlic

Tips for preserving garlic and onions using dehydration.

This has been a superb year for onion and garlic, at least in my garden. With my overabundance of these aromatic vegetables, I’m looking for different ways to store them, and I believe dehydration may be my best bet.

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, both onions and garlic are suitable for preserving by dehydration. Dehydration is the oldest form of food preservation. Recently, dried seeds were found in Wisconsin, and after planting them, they grew into a squash variety that had been extinct for 800 years. If seeds can grow after 800 years, onions and garlic should be safe to eat within the next year or two.

In Michigan, the relative humidity is too high to dry without a dehydrator or oven. The highest heat used for drying should not exceed 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so if your oven can be set for lower than that, you will be safe. The oven door should remain open and a fan nearby to keep the air circulating. There are many types of dehydrators on the market, but those with double wall construction, enclosed heating elements, temperature controls and a fan are the best for the general home usage.

Some foods need pre-treatment before being put into the dehydrator. Make sure to use recipes that are research-based. If produce needs blanching, one needs to know that before going through the time of drying and not having a good product. Blanching stops enzymes from working and lessening the color and taste of your vegetables. Some need it; others don’t, so make sure to use a recipe you can trust.

Onions and garlic require no pretreatment. If you plan on drying garlic, peel and finely chop the bulbs, place in the dehydrator for 6 to 8 hours. Onions should be washed and the outer paper removed. After removing ends, slice 1/8 to ¼-inch thick and place on your drying trays. They will be dried in 3 to 9 hours.

The vegetables should be crisp or brittle. Place the dried produce in airtight jars, and check periodically to make sure no moisture has been absorbed. 

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