Monday, June 28, 2010

Dried Strawberries

There's a chance I may be getting a smidge wiser in my old age.

I like to dehydrate a portion of our strawberry harvest each year to use as an addition to granola and trail mix. But for some reason, I wait until the end of the season to do this, first putting by as much jam and frozen berries for smoothies as I think we will need.

One reason this doesn't make good sense is because at the end of the season the berries are much smaller. That means I spend more time slicing the smaller berries and laying out a gazillion more slices on the dryer trays than I would if I used larger berries.

So yesterday I took the biggest berries from the most recent harvest, sliced and dehydrated them. Much easier, faster and more efficient. Just HOW many years did it take before I figured this out??

I had four full trays of sliced strawberries.

Ten hours later . . . a very full quart of dried berry slices to stash away in the pantry.

Today? I'm making strawberry jam as we speak. Doesn't it smell dee-licious?

10 comments:

Fiona said...

Looks delicious! I'm hoping to take the kids berry picking on Wednesday, Jack's first day of summer, and get a whole bunch to dehydrate. Have you always sliced them or can you dehydrate the little wee ones whole?

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Fiona - I've never tried to dehydrate them whole, even the small ones. It takes so long to dry the slices (I slice mine about 1/4" thick) that I wouldn't want to fiddle with whole ones.

Katidids said...

Those look great. I'm just this year starting to dehydrate vegies & fruit...Its all a learning process!

Erin said...

ooooh you have a REAL dehydrator! I'm jealous! I have the cheapie plastic one and I finally melted 2 trays this time around. I always wait until after the jam is done, too - do you think we'll remember to dehydrate the largest berries next year?!

Lorie said...

Yes, it does sound wonderful. I dried a lot of berries this year. Both at the beginning of the season and at the end. The smaller berries I just leave whole. They are much easier to deal with after they are dried. I hope to make granola tomorrow and use just those berries.

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Katie - I should get more into drying more things also. It's definitely the economical way to store things. And takes the least amount of space if that's a concern. Always something new to learn, isn't there?

Hey, Erin - I have a plastic one, too, that does a good job but have become a little concerned about the plastic possibly transferring into the dehydrated food so decided to go to my current unit with its stainless steel screened trays.

We can remind each other next year to do the dehydrating with the big berries!

Hi, Lorie - Well, I guess one CAN dehydrate the whole berries! (Fiona? Go for it.) My question, Lorie, is how do you tell when the whole ones are sufficiently dried? You don't want them rock hard, do you? I tried blueberries one year and they were so hard we couldn't use them in granola and such.

Erin said...

Now I'm wondering if we should try just smashing each berry with the back of a spoon or something and dehydrate it that way? Might be quicker than slicing - I'll have to wait until next year to try it, our season is sadly over :( Fiona, give that a whirl and let us know how it goes!

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Erin - That is a great idea! Smashing the small berries with a spoon! I'm gonna try it at the end of our season. (Sounds like it might get a little messy :o) but it's worth a try. Good thinkin'! Fiona, wanna go for it?

Judy said...

This makes me smile. :0) Last week, 10 yo DGD and I dried 4 trays of strawberries and 3 trays of strawberry leather...that's what I use my small berries for. We just finished putting on 4 more trays of berries and 1 more tray of fruit leather. Funny girl didn't like strawberries until she tasted them-first the leather, then the dried, then the fresh... Hard to keep her out of them now.

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Judy - What a fun thing for you and your granddaughter to do! I'll just bet you made some really good memories that she will remember all her life. Plus, look at all the goodies you got from it!!