Strawberry season is short but oh so sweet! Learn how to dehydrate strawberries to have little bites of summer all year long in your pantry!! It's a quick and easy project that you can also convert into Strawberry Powder!
Did you know that one of the best beginning dehydrator projects to do is strawberries? They are almost fool-proof!
Here's another fact: Strawberries are not technically berries? It's true.
Botanically, strawberries are really aggregate fruits, NOT a true berry. Berries are fleshy fruits deriving from a single flower ovary, and contain their seeds on the inside of their flesh, while strawberries store their seeds on the outside of their flesh, and derive from multiple flower ovaries.
Other fruits that are actually berries might surprise you:
- Squash - yes, our favorite pumpkin is actually a berry, botanically speaking.
This really doesn't affect how you preserve strawberries, it's just a fun little piece of gardening trivia to share at your next dinner party.
How to Keep Strawberries Fresh
Many people recommend washing soft flesh berries like strawberries and raspberries before storing them.
I disagree. Moisture from those berries are what contribute to the berries molding quickly, so I like to store just as they are in the fridge until I need to get them ready to dehydrate.
I wash only as I'm ready to use. While I'm pretty steadfast with this practice and raspberries, I can be a little more forgiving of strawberries if I know we'll be using them within a day or two - I'll go ahead and wash immediately.
If, however, you find that you need to pick out a few bad fruits and wash the container for possible mold spores, this is how I do it.
- Pick out any bruised or molded fruit;
- Place the berries in a water bath of 2:1 water to the vinegar solution. There are even studies that suggest a simple wash in water is more beneficial because the amount of vinegar you have to use is so high, anything less is just wasting it.
- Wash the clamshell container your strawberries are in, and dry thoroughly,
- Place a paper towel at the bottom of the container.
- Dry strawberries thoroughly by laying out on a towel or gently spinning in a salad spinner, and then allow to dry. I really love my upgraded salad spinner from OXO.
- Place strawberries back into your container.
- Return to refrigerator.
If keeping in the clamshell is not, there are new containers that allow you to keep strawberries better in the fridge. They are designed to help you keep optimum conditions to help your produce last as long as possible.
And before we start, there is the argument of organic vs non-organic. Strawberries usually top the list. Inform yourself, make your choice, and enjoy your food.
How to Dehydrate Strawberries
Before you get started: Always preheat your dehydrator when you begin to prep your produce, and dehydrate at the appropriate temperatures. Running at 160F doesn’t make things dehydrate faster, it just promotes case hardening, which you don’t want! Have you ever tested the temperature on your dehydrator?
1. Wash your strawberries thoroughly.
Place the berries in a water bath of 2:1 water to the vinegar solution. There are even studies that suggest a simple wash in water is more beneficial because the amount of vinegar you have to use is so high, anything less is just wasting it.
2. Hull the strawberries.
How to Hull:
- Use a paring knife to just cut a 'v' under the greens and pull them off.
- Use a hulling tool like mine or even this cute strawberry huller by OXO.
- Use a metal or glass straw to push out the greens. This method, however, is a bit messy and wastes a little more of the fruit, but is quick once you get the hang of it.
3. Slice your strawberries into 1/4" slices.
You can do this any way you'd like - or even just cut into small chunks.
4. Arrange onto dehydrator trays
It's important to not let the fruit touch. They don't react the same way that herbs and greens do, so they need their space!I
5. Dry at 125-135F for 6-10 hrs.
Dry until the strawberries are dry and pliable. I keep it on the low side to help keep as much of the nutrition in the fruit as possible.
When Are Strawberries Done?
- Typically takes a batch like this about 8 hours to dry when sliced thin, up to 12-18 hours if done in halves.
- Strawberries should be dry to the touch like paper, and pliable - but will probably not shatter the way vegetables would when completely dry.
- Allow to come to room temperature and test again for the same effect. If they are bendy (as opposed to pliable), put them back in to dry more.
The next step: Conditioning
Conditioning is a vital step to dehydrated food storage that many tutorials and books neglect to mention.
Conditioning allows you to make sure that your food is evenly dry, has no moisture hiding that can cause mold down the road, and allows you to safely store your food in your pantry.
HOW TO STORE
- For everyday use - an airtight mason jar is just fine.
- For longer-term storage - vacuum sealing is the best option. Mason jars that have been vacuum-sealed either with a vacuum sealing machine or O2 absorbers. I prefer using the Foodsaver Handheld vacuum sealer and the jar attachments needed.
- Airtight container with a desiccant pack to absorb any moisture. The desiccant pack is to help absorb any moisture that may be lingering during storage or from opening the jar often. It does NOT replace the conditioning method. It only helps to absorb the moisture introduced by opening the jar often.
- Mylar storage bags with O2 absorbers.
How to Use Dried Strawberries:
- Straight out of the container for snacks
- Trail mix - just like you might add any other fruit
- Muffins (add a little extra moisture to your batter)
- Oatmeal - just like you might add fresh strawberries - just allow them to rehydrate a bit before eating
- Smoothies - add to your morning smoothies
- Pack in lunches
How to Make Strawberry Powder
If you dry your strawberries well, you may want to make strawberry powder.
- Place strawberry slices or fruit leather chips into a blender or grinder of your choice.
- Pulse until thoroughly powdered.
- Place back into the dehydrator using lipped dehydrator sheets or use this DIY dehydrating tray hack. Alternatively, place on a shallow cookie sheet or bowl and place a piece of parchment paper over the top.
- Dry for up to an hour in your dehydrator, or place in an oven with the light on to help dry any residual moisture in the powder.
- Store in an airtight container.
DEHYDRATING TIP: If your goal is to create strawberry powder and not have extra dehydrated slices around, doing a strawberry puree makes things so much easier.
- Hull (or don't if you're like me and use the entire strawberry)
- Throw all into a blender or food processor
- Pour onto fruit leather sheets
- Dry at 135F until dry
Uses for Strawberry Powder
- Strawberry Lemonade frosting - choose a lemon frosting or icing of your choice mix in 1-2 TB of strawberry powder for a wonderful topping to cupcakes.
- Dip bananas into before dehydrating.
- Add to breakfast yogurt
LEARN MORE: 25+ Ways to Use Fruit Powders