Dehydrated cucumber chips are an excellent way to preserve a summer bounty of cukes. One can only eat so much cucumber salad in July! These are great crumbled on a salad for some extra crunch. Also incredible for dipping in hummus, or just plain snacking. The picture above is my setup for processing the cucumbers. This is what I used:
- Sharp knife
- Large pot
- Mandoline (you can cut your slices with a knife, but a mandoline gives you perfect, consistent slices and you can plow through a whole bunch of cucumbers in just a few minutes)
- Safety cutting gloves (Imperative. I cut the tip of my pinkie off once in Kentucky. Exquisitely painful–and bloody!)
First, wash the cucumbers and cut off an end. I just learned this year about then rubbing the cut pieces together, which produces a gummy white foam. This is supposed to “pull” the bitterness from the cucumber. I’m not really sure what the rationale behind this is, but I’ve been doing it this year. I’m sure you could skip this step and be just fine.
Then, peel the cucumbers. You can actually dehydrate the cucumber skin and powder it for use in homemade skin concoctions, if desired. I have tried dehydrating cukes with the skin on, but they were tough and not as enjoyable.
Next, you can either slice the cucumbers by hand into 1/8″ rounds or use a mandoline. I position my slicer on top of a big metal pot so the rounds simply fall into it. Again, the safety cutting gloves are a must: You WILL cut yourself. Mandolines are evil, malevolent contraptions bent on world domination, one fingertip at a time. There are food “holders” that help protect you as you slice, but I find them very inconvenient to use. I prefer to just hold the veggies in my gloved hand until it gets kind of small, and then just hand slice the last few rounds.
Now comes the most tedious part of this process: Loading the dehydrator. Rounds should be placed in a single layer without touching. I can’t remember offhand, but I think I was able to fit about 18 cucumbers into my 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator (I am NOT affiliated with the Excalibur company. I just really like their product). Set the temperature at 135 degrees and dehydrate for about 12 hours, flipping the chips partway through.
When ready, chips will be totally dry and crunchy. Take a couple out to cool and test. If not completely dry, continue dehydrating for another hour or two and check again. Once they are done, I like to cool them and then store in Mason jars with a couple dessicant packs added. Leave on the counter and gently agitate the jars for a few days. If you notice any moisture on the glass at all, or if the chips aren’t totally crispy, it is totally fine to put them back in the dehydrator for a bit.
A quick Google search will yield recipes for flavored cucumber chips as well. I tried them. My family definitely prefers the plain ones. Win for me: The plain ones are a lot less work!