Can You Stop Dehydrating Food and Restart?

A food dehydrator is a great kitchen appliance that makes our lives much easier and yummier. Imagine the feeling of munching down on dried fruit or that beef jerky sitting in your pantry.

Nonetheless, using a dehydrator may sometimes be confusing. For instance, can you pause dehydrating food when you need to leave the house or go to sleep and resume later? Does pausing your dehydrator affect the taste and feel of your food?

I understand how these questions may discourage you every time you think about dehydrating some food. From my experience and research on the dehydration of foods, I put together some tips and answers for those questions you have about pausing and resuming the dehydration process.

Why Stop and Restart a Dehydrator?

Dehydrating takes a long time and often requires time management skills.

It may be necessary to stop and restart your dehydrator if:

  • the food will be done in the middle of the night, but you do not want to leave a dehydrator on overnight or get up to switch it off
  • the food will be done when nobody is home to check

Before you stop and restart your dehydrator, knowing how long it takes for your appliance to cool down and reach the maximum temperature again is helpful.

Considering these tips will help you easily dehydrate your food even when you need to pause and resume later.

Can You Stop the Dehydrator and Restart It?

Yes, you can stop the dehydrator and restart it.

Just make sure you remember to come back and complete the drying process. Half-dried foods can go bad quickly when left in the dehydrator while the power is off.

If you might be away longer than anticipated, remove the foods and store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container until you return. Most especially if you are drying sensitive foods like meat or yogurt.

Take note of how much drying time is left before you switch off the appliance. This simple technique will help when you are ready to resume drying, as you know exactly how much more time you need. You may need to add 20-30 minutes to the second drying cycle.

Can You Pause Dehydrating Jerky?

Yes, you can pause dehydrating jerky.

Depending on how dry you like yours, one-quarter-inch thick jerky takes between 8 to 12 hours to dehydrate. I take mine out after about 9 hours as I’m not fond of it being too dry.

Rotate your trays every 3 or 4 hours during drying. You can pause and restart your dehydrator later. Just ensure it is not off too long and do not pause too often, or you risk your jerky going rancid.

I have paused dehydrating my beef jerky a few times and found no difference in taste or appearance from the jerky I dehydrated without stopping.

Can You Pause Dehydrating Fruit?

Yes, you can pause dehydrating fruit. Stopping and resuming the dehydration cycle later will not affect the taste or look of your fruit. Note how much time your fruit has left in the dehydration cycle so you know how much time the fruits need when you resume.

If you’re worried your fruits may go bad, store them in an airtight container overnight. The fruits will not grow any mold. Ensure you do not store the partially dried fruit in a container longer than necessary.

How to Avoid Pausing the Dehydrator?

You can avoid stopping and restarting the dehydrator through various techniques:

Plan Ahead

When you plan to dehydrate food, it will help to know beforehand how long that particular food will take to dry. This will help you prepare to dehydrate when you know you will be home during the entire drying cycle.

It may be helpful to dehydrate your food when another person is home with you. This way, even if an emergency requires leaving the house, you have someone to check on your food, so you do not need to switch off the dehydrator.

Get a Dehydrator With a Timer Feature

It may be time to upgrade your dehydrator. Shop around for the best cheap food dehydrator with a timer feature. Most modern food dehydrators now use this option to help you effectively dry your food.

You may get a dehydrator that can save drying times for different foods. This way, you don’t need to constantly keep in mind how long it took to dry your favorite fruit or beef jerky.

Get a Smart Plug or Programmable Time Outlet

A smart plug or programmable time outlet allows you to set the time you want the appliance connected to the outlet to stay on. After the specified duration has lapsed, the devices switch off the appliance, in this case, your dehydrator.

These devices help save energy around your home and ensure your food dehydrator goes off at the exact time. You only need to buy a smart plug or time outlet, connect it to your power source and plug in your dehydrator.


You do not need to worry about your food going bad because you paused dehydration. It is advisable to avoid stopping and restarting your dehydrator, such as planning ahead, buying an outlet timer, or buying a dehydrator with a timer feature.

Remember to read your dehydrator’s manual occasionally for the proper use and maintenance guidelines.

You may, however, need to pause your dehydrator in unavoidable circumstances. Just note how much time is left to dry your food, pause the dehydrator, and finish drying later.

The possibilities of what you can do with your dehydrator are limitless. Have fun trying out new things and enjoying your delicious fruit, jerky, and more. I would love to hear how your food turned out after you paused dehydrating and resumed later.

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