Thursday, 9 July 2015

Drying Strawberries

Drying Strawberries

We have dried strawberries before but this time, because we have so many, I am experimenting by having bigger slices, and trying to dry whole ones. Reading up on the subject it shouldn't be a problem and just takes longer to dry. 

Drying strawberries should be done around 135 and 140 degrees F. Depending on the size will take around 7 to 36 hrs with large whole ones taking the full time and thin slices taking considerably less. Any less temp and mould has time to grow, any more and they will harden too much....apparently.

The thin slices last time were very nice and the taste gets really concentrated. Super sweet, super tasty but a little like eating very tasty chewy cardboard. I'm hoping the larger slices will have a better texture for being thicker.

Obviously it's best to dehydrate fruit when the humidity of the air is quite low, ie, a dry day.

Two trays (so far) of small to medium size strawberries sliced into 3.
1/3 of a tray whole strawberries. I did end up filling this tray I thought I'd just test some but then read whole ones will be fine.
Ideally each tray should have exactly the same size pieces but realistically they start as different size strawberries and it's too much effort for me to select similar size one or change the size of each slice. I may have to pull some out before others and spend more time extracting them.

We have harvested over 17 kg of strawberries so far, some sold, many eaten, some frozen and some into jam so this is just another way of preserving.

As mentioned on Simon's blog, fruit leather is another thing to try, which I think I will try later today.


...and that was exactly what I did.

3.7kg of strawberries heated and mashed in a pan to pasteurize, added some brown sugar (most recipes call for it)  and then added some lemon juice. Both lemon and sugar added to taste and not measured. I don't know why you add sugar to such a sweet fruit, nor the lemon, but it did make the taste a little smoother and perhaps it also helps to bulk up the liquid which will dry leaving very little. Perhaps without the sugar too much would evaporate. Anyway, well find out soon enough.

3 baking trays filled with about 5mm depth (ish) with a plastic grease proof paper under the liquid were placed into the dehydrator. The liquid was forced through a sieve directly into the trays for the first 2 trays.

I thought that the liquid and some of the thicker liquid forced through the sieve last may not have mixed very well in the first two trays so I forced all the liquid pulp through into a container and then mixed it thoroughly before finally pouring into the tray. We'll see if the 3rd tray is better after drying.

I have no idea how long it will take and will have to check every few hours as one website says it takes 3 hours at 135 deg F but personally I can't see it drying that quick so will wait and see.

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