Drying vegetables safely preserves their vitamins and minerals, while extending their shelf life, when stored in a cool, dark and dry place. Dried until brittle, vegetables have little water from which enzymes and bacteria can grow. Drying is easiest---and eco-friendly---with an electronic dehydrator. Before dehydrating squash, steam it for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Winter squash should be sliced 1/8-inch thick. Summer squash should sliced 1/4-inch thick. Cooking with dried squash is easy.
Dried winter squash requires little water to rehydrate itself, though it will not resume its original, fresh form. Making squash soup with dried winter squash significantly cuts the cooking time. Unlike fresh squash, which has to be boiled for 30 minutes first, dried squash can immediately be pureed. Blend 2 cups of pureed squash into 3 cups vegetable stock and bring to low boil. Puree one tart medium-sized apple and blend into the soup. Add a pinch of salt. Simmer at low heat until ready to eat. Add a couple of pieces of dried squash to each bowl as garnish.
Both dried winter and summer squash can serve as chips to accompany a spread like hummus or Baba Ghannouj or to enjoy on their own. When drying squash for chips, choose a butternut squash with a long neck or a thick zucchini, so that your average chip will be large enough to dip and hold a dollop of spread. Dry butternut squash slices with rosemary and a sprinkle of salt to round out its savory flavor. To make your dried squash crispier, spray a baking sheet with olive oil and evenly spread them on it. Bake at the oven's lowest setting. Watch them carefully. They can burn easily.
Dried squash makes good bread. It uses the moisture from mix to reconstitute itself. Puree 2 cups of either dried summer or winter squash. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (163 degrees C). In a large bowl, beat 3 eggs until fluffy. Gradually mix in the squash, 3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 3 tsp. baking powder and 2 tsp. cinnamon. For healthier bread, substitute 1 cup of applesauce for the vegetable oil and use half the sugar. Pour evenly into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish and bake for 45 minutes. Test by sticking a knife into it. If it comes out clean, the bread is ready. If you used applesauce, bake for 60 minutes.