DEHYDRATING 101

STRAWBERRIES

Dehydrating Strawberries are as Easy as Dehydrating Bananas.  

 

With our severe weather seasons approaching, we want to prepare for our families to have lightweight food to carry with us in case of disaster.  This is one of the best, most nutritious foods that will carry you and your family through trips or troublesome times.  Strawberries are available throughout the year in my neck of the woods, so-to-speak.  Hopefully, they are available in your neck of the woods also.

Gardening 101
Gardening 101

If you are not sure dehydrating is for you, but you want to try it.  A large retailer 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 large retailer 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 Excalibur 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 do not use available 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 a dried fruit or vegetable.  Make sure all containers and lids are clean and sterilized and dry with an airtight seals.  Quality is needed when you dehydrate fruits and vegetables.  Always use mature but not overripe  product. 

When your product is ripe and quality is good your nutritional quality is also at its 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, save money by dehydrating 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 maybe spoil. I dry fruits on 135* degrees on my dehydrator.  Depending on the weather and the fruit thickness of slices, drying times are variable depending upon weather conditions.

 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 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 teaspoon 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 you use nuts or coconut.  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 they will mold.  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 going to be eaten immediately, top and refrigerate until time to serve.

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 don’t use 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.

“I Hope You Enjoy Dehydrating Strawberries”

 

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