Learning how to make dehydrated beet chips will help you preserve your harvest, expand your emergency food storage, and provide a delicious, healthy snack!
When I was a kid, my parents loved to eat pickled beets. They would have them a couple of nights a week with dinner, and they would always ask me if I wanted a bite. I tried them once.
That was all it took for me to know I hated beets! Yuck! I would never eat a beet again…
Ok, so truth be told, I seriously only tried beets that one time. I was a kid, and they were pickled. I didn’t like them at all, so I just never had the desire to try them any more. But on an episode of The Walking Dead (of which I am a major fan), Carol made acorn and beet cookies. The beets were used as a sugar additive.
I had heard in recent years that people who have given up processed sugar use beets as sweeteners in their foods. So that got me thinking that I should give beets another try. I mean, I’m an adventurous eater. What can it hurt? Get a couple of beets, try them, and if I don’t like them, no harm done.
When I put them on the grocery list, I had no idea we’d end up getting a couple of bunches of beets complete with the greens as well as a half dozen beets without the greens. So now we have a LOT of beets to use up… how would I try them?
The first thing I wanted to try was beets in my afternoon smoothie. I put a quarter of a beet and one stalk of the greens in my berry banana smoothie, and it was SO good!
Experiment One — success!
Now, how else can I use these beets? Oh wait, I know… I’m all about dehydrated foods right now, so let’s try dehydrating them!
What You’ll Need
- Large Bowl
- Sharp Knife and Cutting Board (we have a KitchenAid cutting board)
- Vegetable Peeler (peeling is optional)
- Mandoline (Ours is an OXO Mandoline. I love that thing!)
- …or if you happen to have a food processor like this KitchenAid that lets you set the thickness of your slices, that would be a lot faster!
- Dehydrator (I have been using a Nesco Snackmaster, but I seriously want an Excalibur like this one.)
- …or you can use your oven.
Preparing Beets for Dehydration
The first thing I did was cut the greens off the beets (save those greens for the end of this post), and then wash the beets really well in a large bowl. Even though I’m going to be peeling them later, I’ve just gotten into the habit of washing my vegetables — especially ones I haven’t grown myself.
There were some extra root sections sticking off a couple of them, so I trimmed them off, then cut off the ends and peeled the beets. (Side note: Those “extra root sections” can be put into your smoothie!)
Next, I cut off the ends (which I also saved for a smoothie), peeled the beets, and broke out the mandoline to slice them up. If you don’t have a mandoline, just use an extremely sharp knife and slice the beets super thin. (For real, though… I want one of these food processors with variable slicing thicknesses.)
This part was messy. When I was done, it looked like something horrible had happened on that counter. Luckily, I wiped it all up and washed the cutting board and mandoline before anything had time to stain. (Of course, I used my citrus vinegar cleaner!)
Dehydrating the Beet Chips
Now it’s finally time to dehydrated these sweet red discs! Place them onto your dehydrator tray, but don’t let them overlap. It’s alright if they’re touching, but if they’re overlapping, they won’t dehydrate at the same rate.
As far as thickness goes, you can slice yours as thick or as thin as you want. When I sliced mine, I tried 1/16″ (1.5 mm), and they seemed too thin. So I tried 1/8″ (3 mm). When they dehydrated, they were a bit tough to chew, so next time, I’ll go back to 1/16″.
I dehydrated my beets at 135°F for about 12 hours. Keep in mind, as with all things dehydration, your time and temperature may differ depending on your climate.
Variations on Dehydrated Beet Chips
These beet chips are delicious just as they are, but you could jazz them up by making salt and vinegar beet chips:
- Soak beet slices in vinegar (I prefer raw apple cider vinegar) for 12-24 hours.
- Drain vinegar from beet chips (and save it in a Mason jar to use in other culinary masterpieces).
- Spread slices on the dehydrator trays and lightly sprinkle with salt.
- Dehydrate as recommended above (until crispy).
- Store in an airtight container.
If you have a mandoline, you probably have a blade to cut food into waves (like wavy chips). You can always make wavy beet chips! In fact, I think the next time I make beet chips, I’ll do wavy salt and vinegar beet chips! Oh boy! (I’ll post some pics and revise this part if I do.)
Notes About Dehydrating Beets
- The thinner you slice them, the faster the drying time.
- If you’re using your oven to dehydrate the beets…
- …set it to the lowest setting…
- …leave the door opened a little…
- …use the convection mode if you have that option…
- …watch the beets carefully. It is possible to burn the beets in an oven if you’re not careful. The instant they start to burn, they’re all going to taste burnt.
- Slice beets into thin strips and add to homemade healthy field ration packets for a healthy snack, or to add to soups and stews when you’re camping.
- Store dehydrated beets for up to 3 months in an air tight container. If you plan to store them longer, I recommend vacuum sealing them or vacuum canning them to extend their shelf life.
- Grind dehydrated beets into a powder and sneak its nutritional goodness into family dinners without your family knowing! (Alternatively, you can add beet powder to a larger conglomerate of vegetable powders and sneak a LOT of veggies into that meal!)
- If you’re on a raw diet, this fits perfectly!
But Wait, There’s More — Dehydrate Those Beet Greens!
That’s right, you can dehydrate the greens just like kale (or any other greens). Here’s how:
- Cut the leaves away from the stems.
- Wash the leaves and pat dry with a paper towel. (…or you could put them in a salad spinner if you happen to own one.)
- Lay leaves out on the dehydrator trays.
- Dehydrate at 125ºF for 4-6 hours.
So why would you want to dehydrate the beet greens? What can you do with them?
- Eat them like kale chips.
- Grind them into powder to add to your vegetable powder.
- Combine them with other dehydrated greens and miscellaneous veggies in a Ziploc bag to use as “soup greens*” in the field.
(*Soup greens are basically any greens that would be good flavoring and filler in a soup. With dehydrated soup greens, you can sprinkle some into your boiling water over a camp fire, and within minutes, they’ll rehydrate and cook down to form a delicious broth.)
Have you tried dehydrated beet chips and greens?
If you’ve ever tried to make dehydrated beet chips or greens, let me know in the comments below! If you try it because of this article, PLEASE share a picture or two on my Facebook page! I love seeing your path toward self-reliance!