When it comes to storing food for emergency purposes or extending the life of a surplus of produce, dehydrating food is one of the most effective and safest ways you can go about it. If you are looking for a way to preserve some of your sweet potatoes, consider dehydrating them. Learning how to dehydrate sweet potatoes is a great way to extend their shelf life while preserving their nutrients. Dehydrating removes all moisture from the food, thus slowing down the spoilage and simplifying storing them.
Dehydration works best with fruits and vegetables with decent water content, which is why sweet potatoes are an excellent candidate for dehydrating. You can dehydrate sweet potatoes and use them as a substitute in all the dishes requiring fresh sweet potatoes, or even make a perfect snack out of them in the dehydrated state itself. The first step in dehydrating our sweet potatoes is buying the best potatoes available.
How to Buy the Best Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes grow underground and are one of the vegetables that are available throughout the year. Sweet Potatoes are so versatile and can be used in everything from french fries to sweet potato mash. Here are a few tips to make buying sweet potatoes simple:
Look for sweet potatoes with smooth skin without any bruises and dents.
Go for sweet potatoes that are even in size and are firm to touch. Sweet potatoes are quite firm when they are fresh, so if any of the sweet potatoes have soft spots or are mushy overall, they are probably well on their way to spoiling, and it’s best to avoid buying them.
Make sure the sweet potatoes you buy are even in color without any discolorations or patches.
While you can still use sweet potatoes that have sprouted while in storage in your pantry, don’t buy already sprouted sweet potatoes from the market. Sprouted sweet potatoes indicate that they have been in storage for too long and were probably stored in less than ideal conditions.
Preparing the Sweet Potatoes
Now that you know how to buy the sweet potatoes, the next step is how to prepare them for dehydrating.
Storing the Sweet Potatoes
If you are not planning on using the sweet potatoes immediately after purchase, store them in a cool and well-ventilated corner of your pantry away from any heat source. Never wash your sweet potatoes if you plan to keep them for a few days, as the moisture can cause them to rot prematurely. Instead, brush off the excess dirt, if any, from them and store them dry. Also, avoid keeping the sweet potatoes in the refrigerator as that can produce a hard center and an unpleasant taste.
Washing the Sweet Potatoes
Since sweet potatoes grow underground, you need to give them a good scrubbing, especially if you plan to consume them along with their skin. Soak the sweet potatoes in a sink full of water for a few minutes just before you plan to use them. The soaking will help loosen the dirt stuck to the vegetable and make cleaning them easier. If possible, use a vegetable scrubber to scrub the sweet potatoes and clean them thoroughly. When all the sweet potatoes have been scrubbed, give them another rinse with some new clean water before laying them out on some paper towels to dry. You can even pat the sweet potatoes dry with another paper towel to get them dry faster.
Dehydrating the Sweet Potatoes
Now that you have your sweet potatoes bought and cleaned. Let’s move to the dehydrating stage. You can dehydrate the sweet potatoes in several forms according to how you plan on using them in the future. We have described a few different ways to try dehydrating your sweet potatoes.
Dehydrating Sliced or Diced Sweet Potatoes
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While you are preheating the oven, place a baking tray in the oven so that it can preheat as well.
While the oven is preheating, get the sweet potatoes ready by poking a few holes in them with the help of a fork or toothpicks.
To bake the sweet potatoes, you can wrap each sweet potato in aluminum foil and place it on the baking tray or line the baking tray with parchment paper and place the sweet potatoes directly on it.
Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until they have cooked thoroughly and are completely tender. When the sweet potatoes have cooked completely, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool down to room temperature.
Peel the now cooled sweet potatoes. Peeling the baked sweet potatoes is pretty easy, simply pulling at the skin will allow you to peel them.
The next step is to prepare your sweet potatoes in the form you want to dry them. You can either dice the peeled potatoes into smaller pieces or cut them into rings. If you are dicing the sweet potatoes, try to cut them into equal-sized pieces about ¼ to ½ inch in thickness and if you are cutting them into discs, cut them so that they have ⅛ to ¼ inch thickness. Try to cut the sweet potatoes as evenly as possible so that they all require the same amount of time to dry completely.
Dehydrating in an Oven
To dehydrate the sweet potatoes in an oven, line a baking tray with some parchment paper or use a non-stick baking tray to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the bottom. Spread out your sweet potato pieces onto the trays in a single layer, ensuring that none of them overlap.
While preparing the trays, preheat the oven at the lowest possible temperature setting. For most ovens, this temperature is 200 degrees.
When the oven has preheated, and your tray is prepared with the sweet potatoes, load the tray into the oven and let the sweet potatoes dehydrate for 3 – 4 hours. Check on the sweet potatoes every 15 minutes or so after 3 hours have passed to check their doneness.
Leave the door to the oven slightly ajar to allow the hot air to circulate and prevent the sweet potatoes from getting scorched.
Once the sweet potatoes have all dried, remove the tray from the oven and let them cool down to room temperature undisturbed.
Dehydrate in the Food Dehydrator
Spread all your sweet potato pieces on the food dehydrator tray, taking care to spread them in a single layer without any overlaps.
Once the trays are all prepared, load them into the dehydrator and dehydrate them at 125 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are dehydrating diced sweet potatoes, you will have to dehydrate them for 10 – 12 hours, while the sliced sweet potatoes may be done in 8 -10 hours.
Check the sweet potatoes by breaking a piece into two parts to check whether they have thoroughly dried. If yes, remove the trays from the dehydrator and let the sweet potatoes cool down to room temperature.
Dehydrating Sweet Potato Puree
Poke a few holes in each sweet potato before placing them on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Poking the sweet potatoes will keep them from bursting in the oven.
While preparing the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When preheated, load the trays into the oven and bake them for 30 – 40 minutes or until they are tender.
Once your sweet potatoes have cooked, remove the trays from the oven and let the sweet potatoes cool down to room temperature.
When the potatoes have cooled to a point where you can handle them, peel the sweet potatoes and mash them into a puree using a food blender or a potato masher. If required, you can use a little water to adjust the consistency. You can also add seasoning or a sweetening agent if you so desire. Just avoid adding any sort of fats to the mash.
Prepare the tray you will use to dehydrate the sweet potato puree by lining it with parchment paper. Spread the prepared puree in a layer on the prepared tray, maintaining an even thickness throughout. A thickness between ¼ to ⅛ inch is ideal.
Dehydrate in the Oven
Preheat the oven at the lowest temperature possible on your oven. Load the prepared baking tray into the oven and dehydrate the sweet potatoes for up to 2 – 3 hours at the lowest setting.
The time to dehydrate the sweet potatoes will vary depending on how leathery or dry you want the sweet potatoes to be. If you’re going to eat the sweet potatoes like a fruit roll-up, dry them until it’s dried to a leathery stage. If you want to use the dried sweet potatoes in a trail mix, dry them until they are dehydrated completely.
When the sweet potatoes have dried to your preferred degree, remove the tray from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
Dehydrate in the Food Dehydrator
Preheat your food dehydrator to 135 degrees before loading your trays into the dehydrator.
Dehydrating the sweet potatoes in the food dehydrator takes longer when compared to the oven. It may take between 6 – 8 hours for the sweet potatoes to be dehydrated to your preferred degree.
To check the doneness of the sweet potatoes, press slightly with your index finger. If it leaves an indent, then the sweet potato is still a ways to go. Make sure the mash has dried evenly, and there are no wet spots.
When sweet potatoes have dried, pull the tray from the dehydrator and let them cool down to room temperature.
If you have dried the sweet potato to bark, you can snap it into smaller pieces and then store them in glass containers. On the other hand, if you have dehydrated the sweet potatoes to leather, cut the sweet potato into slices and roll each slice like a roll-up before storing it in containers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do sweet potatoes need to be cooked before dehydrating?
A general rule of thumb is that any vegetable you cook before eating should also be cooked prior to dehydrating. Blanching or cooking the sweet potatoes will result in a higher quality product. Blanching or cooking helps in preserving the color, texture, and taste of the sweet potatoes. Another plus point of cooking the potatoes is that it reduces the time to dehydrate and rehydrate the sweet potatoes significantly.
How to dehydrate sweet potatoes in an air fryer?
If you have an air fryer, you can easily make sweet potato chips in it. Using an air fryer is super simple and very quick. Because the capacity of an air fryer is much less when compared to an oven or dehydrator, you will need to dehydrate the sweet potatoes in batches. Coat the air fryer basket lightly with some oil before adding your sweet potatoes to a single layer in the basket. Once the basket is loaded, cook the sweet potatoes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until they have dried through.
How do I rehydrate the sweet potatoes?
To rehydrate the sweet potatoes, add the amount you would like to dehydrate to a large bowl. Add hot water to the bowl and let the sweet potatoes soak until they rehydrate. The diced sweet potato pieces and the leather will hydrate the fastest. The thicker or bigger the pieces are, the longer they will take to hydrate.
How long do dehydrated sweet potatoes last?
Properly dehydrated and stored sweet potatoes can easily last for up to a year. Store the dehydrated sweet potatoes in glass containers so that if there is any condensation forming on the inside of the jars, the condensation will be easily identifiable. In case of any mold, discard the jars immediately.
Dehydrating sweet potatoes is a great way to preserve your extra sweet potatoes and make them last much longer. They are versatile and make a delicious side dish and several desserts. The next time you buy sweet potatoes, dry a batch, and we are sure you won’t regret it. If you enjoyed this drying guide, you might also enjoy some of our other drying guides here.
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