Dehydrating123: How To Dehydrate Legumes For Backpacking Meals

What are legumes?

Legumes (you may also hear them called pulses) are plants that have pods with tidy rows of seeds inside. You know them better as peas, lentils and various types of beans.

Why legumes are good?

Legumes are cheap, tasty and good for you. They are low in fat and do not contain cholesterol. Beans and lentils are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. After meat and fish, they provide more protein per serving than other foods. As legumes also contain complex or “good” carbohydrates, they quickly can make us satisfying and keep us feeling full longer.

The only one drawback is that they take a long time to soak and cook. By cooking and dehydrating them at home, you can save your time and fuel on the trail. Dehydrated beans are lightweight, take up little space and can be rehydrated easily for a hot and nutritious backpacking meal.

How to dehydrate legumes for backpacking meals

Step 1. Soak legumes (pulses) in cold water for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Step 2. Drain them to remove the excess water.

Step 3. Put legumes in a pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil.

Step 4. Reduce heat to low and simmer until soft. The cooking time varies depending on sort of legumes from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours.

Step 5. Remove from the heat. Season to taste, cover and let sit for another 10-15 minutes.

Step 6. Drain water off and leave to cool.

Step 7. Spread cooked legumes on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets or parchment paper.

Step 8. Dry at 130F/55C for 4-6 hours.

Step 9. Put dried pulses into vacuum-sealed containers, jars or zip lock bags. Store in a dry, dark place at room temperature.

Special Note:
Home cooked dried beans can stay hard and don’t rehydrate as quickly as canned beans. Canned beans split open when dried, but rehydrate better than home cooked beans.

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  1. Sharon on June 17, 2023 at 7:33 am

    Hi.. I’m just looking at dehydrating my meals for the first time. Thinking of do my vege nachos with black beans. Can I just cook it all up in one dish like usual then dehydrate it? Or do I have to do each ingredient separately due to different drying times of individual ingredients?

    • Tanya Krezevska on June 17, 2023 at 10:31 am

      Hi Sharon! Both methods are working. You can cook the meal first and then dehydrate. You can find more info about how to do it here:

  2. John on January 6, 2021 at 3:14 am

    What do you think about rehydrating dehydrated beans, lentils, and pasta using *cold* water? What are your recommendations as to timing?

    • Tanya Krezevska on January 18, 2021 at 12:29 pm

      Hi John! Usually rehydration with cold water or cold water soaking takes much more time (apx/ 2 times more than with hot water). Timing also dependson ingredients used (size of food, level of dehydration etc).

  3. HLT on November 11, 2020 at 3:30 am

    Do I need to cook canned legumes prior to dehydrating them, or can they just be rinsed then dried?

    • Tanya Krezevska on November 11, 2020 at 3:35 pm

      Just rinse and dry 🙂

  4. Hollie on July 27, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    Hi. I just dried some rinsed canned black beans on my Excaliber dehydrator for 4 hours (125 degrees) and they are kind of crumbly and separated into lots of pieces. What did I do wrong?

    • Tanya Krezevska on July 28, 2020 at 10:48 am

      That’s absolutely fine for canned beans. They have tendency to split during dehydrating process.

  5. Cathleen P. on June 12, 2020 at 2:43 am

    If I want to take dehydrated puree to reconstitute on the trail into a kind of hummus, could I go ahead and make the completed puree — seasoned and possibly oiled — and then dehydrate that?

    I’m asking because I’m trying to recreate (and, frankly — improve) a commercial hiking product, dehydrated hummus. The commercial product seems to not be seasoned; but that said — it’s reconstituted with room-temp water, not heated water.

    • Tanya Krezevska on June 12, 2020 at 8:51 am

      Yep. You can make a puree, then dehydrate it. But do not add oil until youļl be ready to eat it. Otherwise your food will go rancid.

  6. Kaye on January 28, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    Would pressure cooking the beans prior to dehydrating them help with the rehydration process? Would they stay whole or break down

    • Tanya Krezevska on January 29, 2020 at 9:56 am

      Home cooked beans will break down or crack after dehydration. I don’t know how rehydrate beans that were pressure cooked. I never tried. However, dehydrated canned beans rehydrate faster.

  7. Attie on October 22, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Does there tend to be a kind of “normal” ratio for how much water or stock to use to re-hydrate a certain amount of dried legumes?
    Looking for some golden rule like 2:1 ratio water to legumes, etc. Thanks!

    • Tanya Krezevska on October 22, 2019 at 5:27 pm

      It depends on consistency you would like to get. I always start with 1:1 ratio and than add more water, if needed.

  8. Marion on September 10, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    Hi, where can l get a suitable dehydrator for cooked legumes intended for commercial purposes? Any brand you would recommend?

    Another thing, after dehydration so it doesn’t need any presavatives right?

    • Tanya Krezevska on September 11, 2017 at 9:21 am

      Hi Marion! You can read about how to choose dehydrator here:
      You do not need to use artificial preservatives, just keep your dehydrated food in vacuum-sealed bags or airtight containers in dark, cool place.

  9. alex on June 3, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Is there any way to dehydrate beans without a dehydrator?

    • Tanya Krezevska on June 4, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Hi Alex! You can try dehydrate beans also in the oven if it works in low temperatures (around 160F/70C degrees). Place the trays with pre-cooked beans inside the warmed oven, prop the door open for a few inches, and wait for about 12 hours.

  10. BP on December 10, 2016 at 10:24 am

    This is what I was looking for, thank you for posting the guide.
    I am not a hiker, so I am curious how you bring these lentils back to make a meal?

    • Tanya Krezevska on December 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Thank you for the comment. It’s easy and comfortable to cook with dehydrated legumes even at home. You can add them to the soups or stews, or even just rehydrate in cold or hot water and put into salads…

  11. Lisa on November 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    How long will dehydrated legumes, spagetti sauce
    and pasta last if placed in closed unsealed mason jars in a cool dark place?

    • Tanya Krezevska on November 4, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Lisa! Dehydrated legumes and pasta can be stored even in jars up to 1 year. As for dehydrated spaghetti sauce, better to keep it in a vacuum-sealed bag or container in a freezer, especially if you are not planning to use it in 1 month period.

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