Jeff and I aren't big jam or jelly people, but we do eat strawberries on our pancakes. To enjoy our strawberries all year, we dry froze five pints and dehydrated some as well. I just got a food dehydrator and I'll tell you how my first foray went. First things first, prepare the berries.
How to Prepare Strawberries for Freezing or Dehydrating:
Whether you plan to freeze or dehydrate start by preparing your berries the same way, rinsing the whole berries. Don't soak the berries this could leach out some of the flavor. Then cut the green tops off the strawberries. You can cut them into slices, leave them whole, or do what we did and cut them in half. Then I rinsed them one more time. It's important to work quickly with strawberries because when they are ripe, they go bad fast. You can hold them in the refrigerator for a day or two if you have too.
How to Dry Freeze Strawberries:
I used Jeff's Grandma Irene's technique for packaging the strawberries. However, I did skip her step of covering them in concentrated sugar water. I simply packed the strawberries into freezer containers, adding no water or sugar. Then I covered the top with plastic wrap to make sure things are air tight so there isn't any freezer burn. Put the lid on and quick ring of masking tape making sure the tape goes all the way around and overlaps with itself. Just a strip of tape will fall off plastic once it is frozen. Then I used a permanent marker to write what's in the container along with the date. Popped them into th freezer and done!
How to Dehydrate Strawberries
I didn't have enough containers to freeze all the berries so I decided to dehydrate what was left. I cleaned and halved the strawberries then arranged them cut side up onto the dehydrator tray. The directions that came with my dehydrator say strawberries should be halved and dried for 8-12 hours at 135 degrees. It took a little longer, but I got them dry. I honestly don't like them very much. They are kind of hard and chewy. Perhaps they'll be good in muffins or something? Anyone have any excellent ideas for using dried strawberries?