Spring time brings the first fruit of the season in the form of strawberries and dehydrating strawberries will ensure that you can enjoy that fresh flavor long after the growing season has passed. Why dehydrate strawberries? Why not! In many parts of the country, the first delicious red strawberries are ripening in May and June. Soon store produce aisles will feature pints and quarts of strawberries at the lowest prices seen in months and local farmers markets and u-picks will be posting signs to announce their arrival. Sadly, fresh strawberries are generally available for a scant few weeks but dehydrating a couple of quarts means you will have plenty on hand throughout the year until next year’s crop ripens and calls to you. You can find more dehydrating tips for strawberries at Food Preservation.
Whether you grow your own, buy them from a local grower or purchase them at a grocery store, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when selecting strawberries to dehydrate. The stems and hulls should look fresh, green and be well attached – not wilted and brown or missing altogether. The red color should be uniform across the whole berry and the strawberries should shine indicating they are fresh. They should be fragrant so give them a good sniff before buying.
Remove the hulls, leaves and stems. Rinse the berries gently in cool water and allow to drain in a colander. Slice the strawberries ½ inch slices. There is no need to pre-treat strawberries as they generally lose very little of their original color to oxidation. If you prefer sweeter-tasting strawberries, you can syrup blanch them before dehydrating. Mix 1 cup sugar, 1 cup white corn syrup and 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add sliced fruit. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to rest for 30 to 45 minutes. Drain the syrup from the fruit.
Whether you sweeten or not, place the sliced strawberries in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Drying time with most dehydrators is anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. If your dehydrator has temperature controls, consult the owner’s manual for the appropriate temperature though fruits are generally dehydrated between 130° and 140°. It is important t pay close attention towards the end of the drying time. To tell if the strawberries are dehydrated sufficiently, remove a slice and allow it to cool. It should be pliable and leathery. Tear it apart and check for tiny dots of moisture along the tear. If none appear, it is fully dehydrated.
Dehydrated foods last the longest and taste the best when stored in a cool dry place. Ideally the constant temperature should between 60°F and below freezing. Freezer bags or containers are ideal. Glass jars with tight-fitting lids are another good choice. As long as your storage place is out of the direct light and not subject to heat, your dehydrated strawberries should last up to 12 months. You can check out the video for a visual on the whole process.