I tried dehydrating blueberries once before, a few years ago, and they turned out as inedible dark blue pebbles. It took me this many more years to give it another try.
Read up on ye ol' Internet on how to do it along with perusing our three or four books on dehydrating.
Nope, I was not going to puncture each berry with a toothpick or sharp point of a knife before placing them in the dehydrator. Next best option (guaranteed to work -- uh-huh, sure) was to immerse the berries in boiling water for 30 seconds before spreading them out on the trays.
I had 17 cups from our more recent good-sized harvest. Cleaned them as usual and then gave them the 30 second baptism in the hot water.
From my research I was prepared for them to take a long time to dry. These pictured above had been drying for 24+ hours.
Nowhere did I find it suggested that I might have to sort the berries into size categories before drying. (Makes sense, but just how long would that little project take?) The smaller berries were turned into crispy cinders while the bigger ones were still squishy and wet. It was impossible to remove the smaller berries earlier than the larger ones they were mixed in with because they were stuck like glue to the trays.
I finally decided to scrap the whole project, even though I whined a lot over losing 17 cups of what were once lovely blueberries. How long did it take to carefully scrape (so as to not damage the stainless steel screening on the trays) all remnants of this fiasco from the eight trays? You don't even want to know. I still have to wash the trays (thank heaven for our big utility sink in the garage) which should be fun, too.
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But not all this week has gone the way of the great blueberry debacle. Out in the garden our slicing cucumbers continue to produce at an almost alarming rate, so I've been able to make many more jars of kimchi.
This fermented vegetable mixture should keep in the refrigerator for months (some sources claim years even -- yikes!), and give us countless health benefits well into the winter. The very best part of this deal is that the kimchi tastes really good!
This is our pretty little Annie who was born with her right foot completely folded under so it looked as though she had only half a webbed foot. (You may recall we were able to successfully splint it so she had no permanent damage.) We don't believe it was a genetic deformity, but rather from being positioned in a bad spot as she developed in the egg, so she's going to be one of our "keepers" this fall and hopefully will turn into a fertile, good mother goose in the future.
Sorry you had such a tough time with the blueberries. I have been drying and using them successfully for years, but they need to be handled in a particular way. I bring them in from the bushes, and rinse them in a colander, to remove any dust and bugs. Then spread them out on a towel to remove any surface moisture. I don't sort them, but spread them out in a single layer on the dehydrator shelves. Turn it on and let them all dry into hard little crunchy lumps. They go way down in volume and when dry, I brush them off the shelves of the dryer into a bowl, and nuke them briefly in the microwave to kill any bug eggs that might be present. Seal them up in pint jars to keep them dry. I add a small handful to my oatmeal each morning, and they rehydrate while the oats are cooking for a healthy, delicious breakfast. Hope this helps. I also can use them in anything else by soaking in water for a while, then use them like raisins.
Karren - First off, may I send my blueberries to you for dehydrating? ;o}
What temp do you dry yours at? And how long do you have to let them go in the dehydrator? I wonder why mine stuck so badly to the trays? We were planning on using ours in oatmeal and as tasty little bits in the gorp/trail mix I make, too.
Oh no...that really sucks, I'm sorry it didn't work out!!! I had a similar experience with raspberries a few years back. I prefer to just freeze them now. Your Annie is growing up wonderfully! I remember the post about you splinting up her foot! Can you do anything with the blueberries now?
I'm using a simple little dehydrator with the round plastic trays, so the temperature is preset and I can't change it, but it's not terribly hot. I wait until a dry day, with low humidity, and it usually takes about 18 hours in the machine. I think parboiling them made the peel of each berry sticky so they would stick to the trays. I don't parboil them, and make sure the berries are dry when they go onto the trays, so they don't stick to the mesh. Using them in the gorp might not work because they really are crunchy and hard when dried, unless you do something that will soften them up, like in the oatmeal, but they work great in there. I have used them in things like muffins, but soak them first, so they soften up. Good luck.
Rain - Yes, we will be feeding them to the poultry! (Who will probably think they've died and gone to heaven. Just so they don't realize where they came from, make a break for it and go to the bushes to pick their own!)
Karren - I did wonder about placing the wet berries on the trays. And it has been very humid here so that probably didn't help the situation any. I really appreciate all your advice (and experience) on this, Karren.
You're very welcome. I should add that I have 13 blueberry bushes that are over 40 years old, carefully pruned each year and they produce way more berries that we could ever use. I freeze about a third, for pies, jam, flavoring my kombucha, making into a thick syrup for pancakes and ice cream, and adding to any kind of fruit salad. About a third get dried, mostly for my daily oatmeal, and the rest, I leave for the birds. It's a fair sharing, I think. Hope your next batch turn out better.
Oh dear, shall we all take a moment to mourn the loss of your wonderful blueberries... sorry that didn't work out. I am glad you are keeping your gimpy footed goose. I hope she'll be a good mama in the future. -Jenn
Sorry to hear about your blueberry 'disaster', but at least you know not to put them in the dehydrator next time. I had a similar experience when dehydrating cherries....I dehydrated them cut side down and they glued themselves to the sheets and never did dry properly!
As for fermenting..... you are slowly coaxing me in to having a go as well!
I dried blackberries once with the same result. Inedible bullets was the best description, raspberries on the other hand are one of my favorites to dry.
Annie is beautiful.
And like you, I tried to dehydrate blueberries. I see I'm not the only one that can't master that one. And I think of my precious blueberry stash that I wasted on that project. Sigh. Ah well, some things are best left to the experts.........though, have you PRICED organic dried blueberries???????
Wait-after trying it, I guess I SEE why they are so outrageous!
Have a great week, dear lady
I would have cried, if I lost 17 cups of blueberries. Hopefully you still have some left that you can freeze or something. I've never had Kimchi. What do you put in it? What does it taste like? Do you make it the same as Sauerkraut? Would you mind sharing your recipe? Sorry for all the questions, I haven't picked your brain in awhile. I thought it was time. Lol!!
I didn't like dehydrating blueberries either. I have been freezing them instead. The fermented veggies look very tasty.
Karren - I'd be interested in knowing what you do to them for flavoring your kombucha! My husband flavors his (kombucha) sometimes in the evening by adding a splash of wine (!) to the glass, but it sounds interesting to think about the blueberry flavor to me.
Jenn - Yes, I did mourn the loss . . . with a bit of grumping and groaning. The trays are all now washed and back in the dehydrator . . . and I feel better. ;o}
Vera - My previous "stuck like glue" to the trays was dehydrating sliced strawberries. They actually turned out very well . . . after I peeled them off the trays! Had to do a big wash-up job on the trays then, too.
Fermenting, fermenting, fermenting . . . I'll continue whispering in your ear. So good for us!!
Kev - Gosh, I would think raspberries, being so wet, would stick terribly. No? I, too, would definitely like dried raspberries. Mmmmm . . . yum.
Sue - Yep, that's what I kept thinking about . . . the waste. But dear hubby reminded me that we can feed the "remains" to the poultry and THEY will benefit from the antioxidants!! (A good thing about having animals!)
Laurie - I was so MAD I didn't cry! The good thing is that our bushes have been so very prolific this year that I've made jam and have LOTS frozen with still some more (not a lot) to come on the bushes.
You've been gone on your lovely Colorado vacation so you must have missed it, but I did a post on making my kimchi on August 16th. Just scroll back on my posts and you'll find it.
I can tell you're home and back to thinking about household-y things again! Hugs to you.
Kristina - For the time being (until I get brave enough to try drying them again -- maybe in 5 years or so!) I'll use my frozen ones, too. They're fine in most anything -- baked goods, oatmeal, smoothies. I was looking forward to putting the dried ones in my gorp/trail mix though. Hrumpf.
Before I would loose any more of that precious fruit, I would just freeze them.
Try something else dried in the trail mix.
I saw blueberries here were $4.99 in those little containers at Walmart this week!
Glenda - If I get four quarts in a picking or two yet I'll make another batch of jam . . . which I know will turn out! I suppose I could use some of the ones already frozen for that, too. And you're right, there are plenty of other munchies I can put in the trail mix.
OY! I tried drying them once with pretty much the same results - but they didn't stick. I would have lost my mind, which is a short process these days. I have the same trouble with my black currants. Your Annie is a winsome lassy!
Yep, I'm home. I've been weeding for one whole week. I'm done and now it will be back to easy to keep up with. When I got home, canteloupes had taken over the garden....vines were growing up the screen on my bedroom window. HaHa!! There's something growing beside the compost bin that looks like little white pumpkins. For the life of me, I don't know what it could be. I'm letting it do its thing. Getting ready to plant a fall crop. I've been too lazy to blog and I'm so far behind. I'll catch up next week.
Susan - No, that first batch I tried drying years ago (that was a failure, too) didn't stick to the trays . . . but I hadn't parboiled them either. I'm sure it was the wetness from that process that made them settle right down and adhere!
Laurie - Gotta love the mystery crops that grow in or around the compost heaps! Sounds like the little white pumpkins might make cute fall decorations.
Hi Mama Pea - I was hoping to find your recipe for Minnesota Kimchi. It looks wonderful and I'd like to get into fermenting. This could be just the nudge I need! Would you be willing to post it?
Cr - I posted my kimchi recipe in my post of August 16th titled "Fermenting Success!" If you go to my August posts and scroll down to the date of the 16th you'll find it there. Hope you have success with it. We're sure enjoying it!
I dry my blueberries the same way and they turn out the same way as well but that's just fine. they're delicious crunchy in my homemade granola or reconstitute fast in a pot of oatmeal or sweet rice etc. or in a bowl of warm water for other things. I hope you try them again some day :)
Thank you so much! I'd searched for "kimchi" but since you hadn't named it yet, nothing came up. Can't wait to try it.
Cr - You've very welcome! Hope the recipe works for you.
Julia Catfeather - We did sample our little crunchy blueberries but they had no flavor left at all. Maybe it was our particular blueberries? Good to hear you did have success . . . and I will probably try drying them again. Someday. ;o}
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