Dehydrating food preserves its flavor and extends its shelf life. You can also create tasty snacks for a rainy day. Most people use traditional dehydrators, but with the recent innovation of miniature versatile ovens like Ninja Foodi, you do not need to buy a separate gadget.
Like a food dehydrator machine, a Ninja Foodi can acquire a great outcome. That’s why we have this article to guide you step-by-step on dehydrating in a Ninja Foodi without a dehydrator. Following our instructions, you can enjoy homemade dried fruits, vegetables, and herbs by pressing a knob. We will use the air crisp or air fry function of your Ninja Foodi to dehydrate.
1. Getting Started
The first step in dehydrating food in Ninja Foodi without a dehydrator is understanding the machine. You must familiarize yourself with the f various features and functions of your Ninja Foodi. The pot has two lids, the pressure cooker and the crisping/air fryer lid. The pressure cooker’s lid pressure cooks, slow cooks, sautés, and steams your foods.
On the other hand, the crisping lid/air fryer’s lid air fries, bakes, roasts, and broils your goodies. The two lids serve interchangeably, depending on what you want to cook. In this case, you want to dehydrate your food. So, you will use the air crisp or air fry mode in this process.
If you haven’t used your Ninja Foodi before, grab it and place it on your countertop. Analyze and read the control panel and all the lid buttons. You can also go through the Ninja Foodi user manual for further understanding. Again, you will use the Crisping air fryer lid to dehydrate, not the pressure cooker.
2. Selecting The Food To Dehydrate
Not all foods are ideal for dehydration. Some have too high water or fat content and can take ages in your Ninja Foodi. An example of a food with high-fat content is the avocado. The melon family has excess water and is excellent when you take them fresh or make juices/smoothies. It is a bad idea to dehydrate a watermelon as it may take a long time to dry.
Also, the fruit has high water content and may not yield good results. Mellons others are better off without dehydration. For instance, dry cereals, nuts, and legumes do not need dehydration.
They are already dry and can stay on the shelf for several months if the storage conditions are suitable. Food such as fruits, herbs, and vegetables are fresh produce you can dehydrate and consume during travels, winter, and summer when fresh produce is out of season.
3. Preparing Food For Dehydration
Of course, the first step before dehydrating your food is cleaning and slicing. But you also need to ensure that the food is fresh and ripe. Fresh if you dehydrate herbs and veggies, and ripe if you want to preserve fruits.
Cleaning ensures that there is no soil or any other form of contamination. Thoroughly wash your food items and remove seeds and other blemishes. Cut the stem and the midrib before slicing them. The slices should be uniform to ensure that the drying process is consistent. Also, do not shred fruits and vegetables into tiny pieces.
3. Preheating Your Ninja Foodi
Once you have sliced your fruits/veggies and studied your new Ninja Foodi, it is time to set the oven in operation. As I said earlier, you will use the crisping lid/air fryer lid. Close the crisping/air fryer lid and set it to air crisp or air fry mode.
Preheat the appliance to approximately 135°F (57°C). Preheating takes 5-10 minutes, but you can refer to the user manual. This temperature is ideal for most dehydration processes unless the recipe guides otherwise.
Preheating helps your Ninja Foodi to attain the optimal cooking temperature: When you preheat the air fryer oven, it gets ready to dehydrate, thus giving you consistent and accurate dehydrating results.
You can also be assured of an even heat distribution when you preheat the gadget. Also, preheating the Ninja Foodi reduces the overall dehydrating time and energy consumption.
4. Arranging The Food In The Air Crisp Basket Or Dehydrating Rack
After preheating your Ninja Foodi, the next step will be to place the sliced food in a single layer on the dehydrating rack. If you do not have the rack, use the crisper basket. There is a general rule to ensure that you do things right. Do not heap the food. Place it neatly while ensuring that there is enough space between the pieces.
The above arrangement enhances proper airflow. If you have more food to dehydrate, you will use multiple batches. Remember that dehydrating food may take more than 3-4 hours. If you leave the fruits or veggies on the countertop, they might attract flies. Please keep them in a coolbox or refrigerate them until you are ready for the next batch.
5. Initiating The Dehydration Process
Your food is ready in the crisper basket. Please insert it into the Ninja Foodi cooking compartment and close and secure the lid. Set the timer depending on the food type and your desired dehydration duration. Your food’s drying time will depend on several factors;
- Food type: What type of food are you dehydrating? For instance, fruits might take longer to dehydrate than vegetables because of higher moisture content.
- Thickness: How thick are your food slices? Thicker slices take longer than thinner ones. But do not make them too thin.
- Moisture content: Fruits like pineapples have high moisture content than apples and will take longer to dehydrate.
- Temperature settings: What’s your dehydrating recipe temperature? Do not stick to the 135°F (57°C) if your food requires a higher temperature to dehydrate. Following the dehydrating recipe guidelines is essential to achieve the results in good time.
- Time settings: Dehydrating food can take somewhere between 4 and 8 hours. This range is vast and depends on the food type and your preferences. Do not hasten to remove fruits if they have not acquired the correct moisture content. They will develop molds and spoil because they did not do enough.
- Humidity in your kitchen: When cooking, it is critical to observe the humidity level. The condition affects cooking processes such as baking and dehydrating foods. It takes longer to cook or dehydrate food when it is too humid. If you have a dehumidifier, it can help improve the condition and get your fruits or veggies dry at the right time.
- Your desired dryness: How do you like your dehydrated goods? Chewy or crispy? Whatever your preference, it has an impact on the drying time. You may need more or less time to get your desired results. But keep monitoring the progress to prevent mishaps such as browning and cooking.
6: Monitoring Dehydrating Progress
From the word go, you cannot afford to leave your food unmonitored. You must keep on checking from time to time and flipping to enhance the process. Leaving your dehydrating food unattended risks over-drying, under-frying, and cooking.
Remember that you intend not to cook the food but to dry it for future use. Also, some uncertainties may occur during the long dehydrating hours. Power loss, shutdown, temperature rise, and other issues require adjustments and modification. Stay close to your Ninja Foodi and keep monitoring.
7. Temperature And Time Adjustments
Time and temperature adjustments are of the essence when using your Ninja Foodi to dehydrate. The features allow you to modify the units to favorable levels for the exercise. If your food is drying too fast, adjusting the temperature can slow the process.
Conversely, you can increase the temperature if the dehydration process is too slow. Either way, the adjustments allow your food to reach the correct moisture content at the right time.
8. Doneness Test
At the specified dehydrating time, you need to test your food. The simple test helps you know if the food is dry and moisture-free. The food should be dry and leather for the correct doneness, depending on your taste and preferences.
If your food still has traces of moisture, add the dehydrating time until your food dries to your liking. Remember that different foods dehydrate at different times. So, do not mix two foods to avoid drying earlier than others.
The primary reason for dehydrating food is to present and take it in the future. After your food passes the doneness test, it is time for storing. However, you cannot store your food without cooling it first. The process helps to eradicate heat and leave it at room temperature.
Next is the preservation step. You will need air-tight containers or bags. The containers ensure that the food is fresh and protects it from moisture. Once you pack the food in the bags, store them in a cool and dry place.
You should never expose your dehydrated food to direct sunlight and water. In addition, consume yours within the specified time. For instance, you can consume fruits over a year if you store them at 60ºF/15.5ºC and up to 6 months if you store them at 80ºF/26ºC.
Vegetables can stay for three months at 60ºF/15.5ºC. Have a look at the time you can store your dehydrated foods;
- Dried Fruits: 1 to 2 years or even longer.
- Dried Vegetables:1 to 2 years.
- Jerky: Beef, and poultry:1 to 2 years
- Dried Herbs: 1 to 3 years
- Dried Spices: 2 to 3 years or longer.
- Dried Pasta: 1 to 2 years.
- Dried Beans and Legumes: 1 to 2 years or more.
- Dried Nuts and Seeds: 1 to 2 years or longer.
- Dried Milk and Dairy Products: 1 to 2 years
The above shelf lives for different foods, depending on the environment and storage conditions. Always store your dehydrated food in a cool, dry place. And with the Ninja Foodi and its air crisp or air fry lid, you can successfully dry foods without buying a standalone dehydrator.
Follow our steps and make sure you keep your homemade dried fruits, vegetables, and herbs in favorable conditions. And that’s how to dehydrate in Ninja Foodi without dehydrator. Happy dehydrating!