Monday, June 13, 2011

Dried Strawberries

Saturday, Mr. FC&G and I made our yearly sojourn to the u-pick strawberry field.  The farm has had a tough year; the variable weather has made the berries small and sparse on the plants.  But the plants were sending out lots of runners, and I think there is hope for next year's crop to be much more robust.

Once we got home, I started the process of preserving the berries.  We had plenty of jam, so no need to make more.  Ditto on preserves.  (The difference between jam and preserves is the amount/source of pectin.)  We even had some frozen ones left from last year, so I froze fewer than usual.

So, I decided to dry some berries as an experiment.  I dried two trays in my food dehydrator, which gave me about a half pint of dried berries, and I think I'm going to have to (gasp!) disagree with the wisdom of my beloved Putting Food By and say that this is a must-do!  The berries are concentrated sweetness, and I'm envisioning adding them to a batch of muffins for a wonderful treat.

To dry, simply wash and hull the strawberries and cut them in quarter inch slices.  Place on the dehydrator trays and dry for 4-6 hours, until rubbery.  I store my jar in the freezer to further keep them stable, but obviously I could keep them on the shelf if need be.

I think food dehydrating is a great skill to explore; it is especially helpful given the skittishness of the grid around here these days.  With the power going out every time we get severe weather (and severe weather seeming to come more often), dried and canned foods will be the ones I am not worried about losing.

The Analysis

Fast:  Not as fast as freezing (because of time spent slicing berries) but faster than making jam, this is a good preservation technique.

Cheap:  The only input other than berries is electricity, and even that is not needed if you have (or build) a solar drier.

Good:  Seriously yummy.  Can't wait to try them in muffins!
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  1. My post on the Sustainable Living Festival 1 week ago has a photo of a homemade dehydrator using sun and rocks only. (No solar panels). Bananas were ready in 24 hours.

    I hope to get our team to build our own at our Botanical Garden Community Garden Plots. Bananas and Pawpaws dehydrated would be great to have. PLus my kitchen is way too small to have a dehydrator.

  2. Mr. FC&G has been threatening to build a solar dehydrator that is pretty much a black box with a window and some trays. I'd like him to do that. In the meantime, sitting my dehyrdrator out on the sunporch at least keeps any residual heat out of the house.