When I set out to dehydrate potatoes, I think of potential meals I might use them for. If I plan to make a lot of scalloped potatoes, I slice them. For stews, soups or casseroles, I cut them into cubes which can later be rehydrated and mixed with vegetables, meat and spices. Hash browns are popular for breakfast around here, so sometimes I shred potatoes for dehydration. (I once even learned how to make my own instant mashed potato granules by accident when I over-cooked them before dehydrating.)
Regardless of shape or size, the process is the same: I start with peeling the potatoes, although you can dehydrate them with the peels on. As they're peeled, I drop them into a bowl of water that has a crushed vitamin C tablet in it to keep the potatoes from turning brown.
Even if you leave the peels on, you will want to treat them with something to keep the other (cut) surfaces from turning brown. The unpeeled, uncooked surfaces turn brown when exposed to the air for more than a few minutes.
Products such as Ball Fruit-Fresh or citric acid are available in most grocery stores near the canning supplies, or you can order them online. These are not chemical additives; they are primarily ascorbic acid, also known as Vitamin C.
After peeling the potatoes, I decide whether to chop, slice, or shred. If I know specifically what I want to do with the potatoes later, I proceed with whatever shape they need to be in. Otherwise, I just look at my stored dehydrated potatoes and see which I'm lowest on, or I choose based on what we use most.
When they're cut into shape, I boil them until they're about half cooked before I spread them on dehydrator sheets. Be sure to drain and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process.
One time I cooked them too long but I went ahead and dehydrated them anyway, then ran them through the blender and tried them out as instant potatoes. That worked very well, so that's one of my regular projects now. We just add butter, salt, and milk to the potato granules along with boiling water. After that, I simmer them for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until they are soft.
Potatoes can be dehydrated from uncooked potatoes, blanched, partially-cooked, or fully cooked potatoes. From my own experience and experimenting, I've found that half-cooked potatoes rehydrate the best.
The uncooked can be stubborn about rehydrating and softening, staying somewhat rubbery and crunchy at meal time, whereas the fully cooked potatoes can resist absorbing water. I've ended up with a whole range of textures in the bowl with soft pieces and hard chunks, and white runny water around them. When that happens, I put the whole mess in the blender and turn them in to mashed potatoes.
When the potato pieces are cut and pre-cooked to whatever extent you choose, place them on dehydrator sheets. If you're using an electric dehydrator and it has a temperature control, set the temperature around 125 to 130 degrees. Dehydrating will take 6 to 8 hours at this temperature.
You can air-dry them if you live in an arid climate, but it will take 10 to 12 hours. It helps to turn the pieces over every few hours if you are air-drying them.
When they're finished, they will feel crispy and hard. Store them in an air-tight container, preferably in a cool, dark place.
To use the dehydrated potatoes, reconstitute them in very warm water for a half hour, then add them to whatever you're making. I have tossed dried vegetables and spices in the warm water with dried potato cubes and let them soak together. Then I add meat or broth and proceed as though they were fresh potatoes.
For gourmet hash browns, I add dried onions and peppers to shredded dried potatoes. These could be mixed and stored together for convenience in airtight containers.
More information and pictures are available at Susan’s blog. This blog is a companion to several of her published books and centers around food preserving and food storage. Click here to browse her books.
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