DEHYDRATING 101

STRAWBERRIES

“It’s Strawberry Season Again”

Dehydrating Strawberries is as Easy as Dehydrating Bananas.  

If you are not sure dehydrating is for you, but you want to try it.  A department store has a five tray under $50.00 in my area and I believe you can buy up to ten trays on that unit.  If you want to try sealing to keep your produce stored at  low-cost.  The same department store has a Food Saver Brand for $140.00 – $170.00 in my area.  I’m sure other stores have them.  I haven’t seen them.

 I use Brand Dryers and a commercial sealer which cost a lot more. I didn’t start out with the more expensive dryers and sealers.  The cost is too high if you are going to let it sit there and not use them.  Start out small and inexpensive to see if you want further investment.  I love to dehydrate and you may not. I save enough on dehydrating my produce, that it pays for my dehydrator and sealer.  If I did not use fresh food for the meal and I know it will spoil, I dehydrate it to use later for another meal.

 I always sanitize my work area and use gloves to keep bacteria in check to package an enduring dried fruit or vegetable. Make sure all containers and lids are clean and sterilized and dry with an airtight seal.  Quality is needed when you dehydrate fruits and vegetables.  Always use mature ripe, but not overripe  product. 

When your produce is ripe and quality is good your nutritional quality is also at it’s best.  If strawberries or other fruits are too mature, make leathers (I will get into that a little later).  Kids love leathers and you can make them into rollups. Rollups are good for lunches, trips, picnics, or if you have to flee disasters and save money by using up produce left to overripe.

To prepare your strawberries wash in lemon/water ( I would put in a colander and dip quickly and rinse and slice) solution to remove any pesticides, waxes and sprays and rinse in clear, cold water. Trim any bruised areas.  Place on dehydrator.  I slice strawberries in about 1/4″ slices, place on a tray and when I have all strawberries finished, I will cover and turn on the dehydrator.

 Do not add fresh fruit to partly dried fruit as it will rehydrate the dried fruit and spoil. I dry fruits on 135* degrees on my dehydrator.  Depending on the weather and the fruit thickness of slices, drying times will vary.

 I check strawberries about every three hours on thinner slices and about every six hours on thicker slices.  I check strawberries to determine if they are dry by how pliable they are when warm on the tray. Too pliable not dry enough. When slightly pliable and cool, fruit makes a clicking sound when dropped on the cabinet counter and is considered dry enough.

I cannot seem to keep them very long.  My husband is diabetic and strawberries is one of the fruits that he can have in moderation.  Strawberries do not cause his blood sugar to increase much.  If you want to keep blood sugars down, strawberries are a good fruit choice.  As a rule, always check with your doctor if your health is compromised.

STRAWBERRY LEATHERS

Fruit Leathers are dried, rolled sheets of plain or sweetened pureed fruits.  You can use Paraflexx, Kitchen parchment paper or cover your trays in plastic wrap and dry to a chewy consistency. Leftovers and slightly overripe food are a great way to make leathers.  

The produce can be raw or cooked.  You can use sweeteners  to taste, like honey or stevia in moderation.   Do not use granulated sugar as it may recrystallize during storage making  a brittle leather. You can flavor your produce with extracts.  Use only 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons or one tablespoon of fresh juices to the purée as you blend.  You can use spices, but in moderation as they concentrate in flavor as you dry.

Spread your purée so that the edges are thicker than the center.  The leather will lift at the edges.  Roll the leather while it is still warm.  For school lunches, you can top with yogurt, nuts, or chocolate, but leather will have to be refrigerated.  Your leather can be rolled up and cut into one inch sections, or you can pour your purée into small circles on your tray and add different toppings and fold. Remember to refrigerate if nuts or coconut is used.  Garnishes can be added to your leathers for after school snacks.

To store your leathers, lay  strawberry leather on plastic wrap, roll leather and plastic up into a roll and wrap again in more plastic wrap. This procedure keeps the leather wrap fresh and keeps the moisture out. Store the wrapped leathers in sealed plastic bags and clean, sterilized,  airtight containers.  Do not keep your vegetable and fruit leather stored in the same container as mold is produced.  Store in a dark cool area to prevent them from becoming sticky.

Leathers with nuts, coconut or spices have to be stored in the freezer or they will spoil within a month or longer. You can unroll stored leathers and top with different toppings for after school, etc.  I would store leathers without toppings as a precaution as they can be unrolled and topped when needed.  If the leather is used immediately, top and refrigerate until served.

A  Strawberry Leather is a good, healthy snack for kids that will keep their blood sugar regulated.  Strawberry Leathers are good for Diabetics as well , but not too many toppings.  I would not put higher sugar content toppings on my leathers for them.  I would use yogurt as a topping as it is a protein that would help regulate blood sugar. I would also cut the rollups into one inch pieces for them as they need portion control as well.  As everyone is different, always check with your doctor for any changes in diet for health compromised  people.

” Enjoy Dehydrating Strawberries”

 

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