Zucchini chips are a healthy alternative to traditional potato or corn chips, and dehydrating them is a relatively easy process. Zucchini isn't terribly pricey to purchase and it's usually available year-round. It's also no secret that the elongated, green summer squash tends to be prolific in a home garden. One way to preserve zucchini is to create these thin, crunchy snacks using a food dehydrator or the oven-dried method.
Choosing and Preparing Zucchini
When choosing a zucchini to transform into chips, size matters. Opt for squash that are relatively small -- about 5 to 10 inches long. Young zucchini are more tender and don't harbor the water content and pithy fibers found in the older, larger squash. Small squash also have fewer seeds that tend to become tough when dried.
Cut off the ends of the squash and then slice the zucchini into very thin rounds, about 1/8 inch thick. The thinner the slice, the crispier the chip will be and the more quickly it will dry. Slice the zucchini using a mandolin or in a food processor as this produces a more uniform finished product than slicing the squash by hand. It also ensures the batch of chips will dry evenly.
Turning the Slices into Chips
Several methods can be employed to transform the zucchini rounds into chips. If you are using a food dehydrator, place the chips on the individual trays so that they do not overlap and sprinkle them with salt. The Rawtarian website suggests dehydrating the zucchini chips on high for one hour before reducing the temperature to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Dehydrate the chips until they become crispy, which can take 12 to 24 hours depending on the thickness of the slices. Alternatively, follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine the proper temperature and drying time for your unit.
Zucchini chips also can be dehydrated in the oven by placing a single layer of salted zucchini slices onto a baking sheet that has been lightly coated with olive or vegetable oil. Use the oil sparingly. You only want enough to prevent the chips from sticking. Bake the chips at 250 F for about two hours or until the slices become brittle. Turn them several times during the baking process to ensure each slice dries evenly.
Boosting the Flavor
Lightly salting zucchini chips prior to dehydration makes for a tasty chip; however, break out the spices if your taste buds crave a more adventurous flavor. To ensure the spices adhere to the zucchini, place the slices -- from about 5 small squash -- into a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Use only enough oil to lightly coat the zucchini. Add your choice of spices to taste such as garlic powder, onion powder, paprika or cumin. For an extra kick, add a sprinkle of cayenne powder. Use your hands to incorporate the spices and zucchini, and then place the slices in a single layer on the dehydrator trays or baking sheet, depending on your preferred method of drying.
Storing Zucchini Chips
Store zucchini chips in an airtight container, freezer bag or vacuum seal them for long-lasting freshness. Zucchini chips have a tendency to lose their crispness and become rubbery if exposed to air. If that happens, don't despair. Place any chewy zucchini chips back into the dehydrator or into the oven until they have regained their crispness.