6.12.2010

Preserving June Strawberries - How to Dehydrate and Freeze


Strawberries are at their peak in North West Indiana this week. At the Valparaiso Farmer's Market, we got three quarts of berries for seven dollars. They are the little dainty strawberries with big sour strawberry flavor; nothing like those large watery strawberries from the grocery.

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?

22 comments:

  1. My mom used to have one of these dehydrators and we used it all the time for apples, bananas, pears, but never for strawberries! I wish we had thought of that! :)

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  2. I wish strawberries were in season here and if they were, I wish they looked that good! Next season I am following your lead and am going to freeze them too! Thank you for your advice. Your blog is fantastic!

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  3. Small, sweet summer strawberries. Your post is reminding me to go pick some at our local orchard! We also freeze them. I've been known to devour half a jar of strawberry preserves with a just the jar in one hand and a spoon in the other!

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  4. Great post, never tried dehydrate strawberries, you gave me a great idea, thanks

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  5. You can rehydrate them by soaking them in a little balsamic vinegar and either top a salad with them, or blend them with ice and a simple syrup to make strawberry balsamic sorbet.

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  6. Interesting! Once I have a nice batch of strawberries I'll try to dehydrate them, I got a dehydrator for Christmas and have put it to very little use.

    Ruben

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  7. Dried strawberries are great in oatmeal, muffins or salads. :) Nice tutorial.

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  8. We have about 2-3 weeks to go here and then Strawberry-palooza! Thanks for the storage tips.

    Jason

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  9. I am betting that dried strawberries would be good for making a fresh bottle of berry vinegar and you can find recipes for doing that all over the 'net just lately.

    I think if I were you, the next time I dried them, I might slice the berries and then rehydrate them for use in muffins, cakes and the occasional special occasion pancakes.

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  10. In addition, if you're at all interested in freeze-dried strawberry powder, ground dehydrated strawberries are basically your go-to for that. I don't know if you're into the macaron craze, but that's the first thing that comes to mind for me. I'm sure it could come in handy some other way!

    Kate

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  11. I have been buying frozen berries at the market since an ingenious farmer has figured out people will pay exorbitant amounts of money for frozen berries in January. I am so going to do this! I've heard of freezing them on a cookie sheet then packing in containers or bags so that you don't have a huge lump of strawberry. Do you have any such issues?

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  12. This is a great post! It is strawberry season here too, so I'm bookmarking this in case I come across an organic crate for not too many shillings (smile).

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  13. You know, I dried some of our strawberries last year, and I generally put them into granola. The strawberry powder is also a great idea (awesome flavoring for pancakes and waffles, if nothing else).

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  14. Sticks Forks Fingers6/14/2010

    Granola is the way to go! Here's a great recipe...http://sticksforksfingers.blogspot.com/2010/01/january-simplicity.html

    Thanks for the tip!

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  15. That's a very good and useful post. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and sharing pretty pictures with that. Linn

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  16. i just stuck some strawberries in the freezer maself. stuck them on some freezer paper on a cutting board until frozen then plopped in a freezer bag.

    Daquiris here we come!

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  17. i like the chewy, dried strawberries. i like being able to store them and throw them on top of cereal, oatmeal, granola, etc. yum!

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  18. What a timely post! I was only wondering the other day whether I could (and if so how) freeze strawberries!!!

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  19. Absolutely gorgeous and perfect timing. I occasionally use strawberries myself and knowing how to freeze them will sure help me eat them more often, haha. :D

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  20. What a wonderful post! Love the strawberry pictures. they are soooo fresh and red

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  21. You know what dried strawberries are fantastic in? Homemade cookies and granola bars! I don't know if I would like them in muffins, because I like my muffins soft and moist, but chewy is never bad in a bar.

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  22. what a great blog. thanks for the lesson in dehydrating and freezing. Great pictures too.

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