Cooling racks are essential for bringing cookies, muffins, cakes, and more down to room temperature after coming out of the oven, but that's not all they can do. When paired with aluminum foil, these metal racks transform into a pretty good homemade dehydrator rack.
Here's how to get your fill of homemade jerky and dried fruit without splurging on a dehydrator.
Why This Dehydrator Hack Works
Food dehydrators are basically an enclosed appliance that typically have four to nine racks with an interior fan that slowly circulates hot air for drying.
The same result can be achieved with the cooling racks we already have in the kitchen. Cooling racks can mimic the basic setup of a food dehydrator in the oven.
To do this, stack them on top of each other, with balls of aluminum foil used as spacers (one per corner), and heat in a very low temperature oven. Unlike oven-drying ingredients on a baking sheet, the open space between the cooling racks allows for air circulation to aid in drying and avoid steaming.
How to Use Cooling Racks as a Dehydrator
Arrange a rack in the lowest part of the oven, remove all other racks, and heat to 200°F or its lowest setting. Make 12 aluminum foil balls, each about the size of a golf ball, and flatten slightly. Arrange ingredients over several racks, without touching. Stack the racks on a rimmed baking sheet, using the foil balls as spacers in each corner between the racks. Cook time will vary between ingredients, but will average four to six hours.