How To Dehydrate Strawberries

I have a new obsession . . . dried strawberries. After years of canning and freezing, I thought it would be fun to try something different this year, so I opted for drying them. (Elliot Coleman sings the praises of drying so much in Four Season Harvest that I must say I’ve been converted!) The result is a very tasty treat. I’ve read that you can use them in scones, cookies, granola, etc. but honestly, I can’t imagine eating them any way but plain.

I want to use a solar dehydrator, but because of the time of year and low temps, I had to dry these inside using my electric dehydrator. I have a very cheap dehydrator that I’ve had for a while, but please oh please, if you are going to buy me one, I would really love to have the Excalibur 3900 Deluxe Series 9 Tray Food Dehydrator – Black. Thank you.

I have a pretty big strawberry patch, but the kids and I typically consume a majority of the berries while doing garden work. Combine that with our favorite before-bed snack this time of year—strawberry shortcake—and there is very little left for putting up. This year, I went to a nearby U-Pick farm to get my berry quota for drying. (Note: this turns my drying addiction into a very pricey bad habit.)

I sliced the berries for drying. Thickness depends on personal preference. The thinner, the faster they dry, but thicker slices seem to have more flavor if you have the patience. Don’t let the berries overlap—although I just noticed a few while looking at this picture! Don’t cram them, either, or it will really slow down drying time.

Length of time to dry should be anywhere from 5-10 hours, but it varies drastically with the machine and the humidity and how the berries were cut. Hint: rotate the trays of your dehydrator throughout drying time to ensure the berries dry evenly. When mine were done, they looked like this:

 

(Candy, I’m telling you!) The strawberries may still be a bit tacky, but not so sticky that they stick together. I put mine in a jar after cooling. If condensation starts to form in the jar, you may need to dry them a while longer. There are some folks who say that you need to put dried goods in the freezer, but I have personally never done that. (It seems to defeat the purpose of drying things—which is to store them without requiring as much energy.)

I do have one last piece of advice about dried strawberries. Hide them. One taste and the kids and/or significant other will be sneaking bites from your precious stash while no one is looking!

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6 Responses to “How To Dehydrate Strawberries”

  1. Christy M
    May 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    Is there a way to dry them in the oven? I don’t have a dehydrator but they sound yummy!

    • Sustainable Kentucky
      May 9, 2012 at 8:32 am #

      Christy—yes, I think you can dry food in your oven but it uses a lot more energy and thus makes it more costly to dry. Here’s a link about drying fruits in the oven. My advice? Ask around and see if someone you know has a dehydrator sitting on a shelf in their basement or something. When I first started drying, I borrowed a friend’s dehydrator to see if I would enjoy it. Turns out, everyone I know has a dehydrator because they all make jerky with their deer meat, etc. One of the perks of living in Kentucky around so many avid sportsman, I suppose. I think a dehydrator is definitely worth the investment (even for my cheapie one), although I do want to build a solar dehydrator this year!

  2. May 8, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    Fabulous tip! I’ve often wondered how to get more time out of strawberries without freezing them! Do you know about how long the lifespan is, dried and stored in a jar like this? (I mean…taking out the “they are all ate up” equation.)

    • Sustainable Kentucky
      May 9, 2012 at 8:29 am #

      I’m pretty sure the ones I’ve dried will not outlast our appetites. 🙂 But, no, I’m not for sure about storage times. Personally, I like to use up all of my stored foods by about a year or so, just because it creeps me out to think I’m eating something canned five years ago. I recently read an article in Countryside Magazine saying that you can extend the life of your dried foods by “canning” them in the oven—stick open jars with dried goods in oven at 200 degrees for about an hour, then stick the lid on. I guess that helps kill any bacteria or insect eggs and ensures that they can store for longer. But I haven’t done it, so I can’t testify to whether or not that works!

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