Berry season is short and sweet, so don’t forget to stock up on more to make sure you can dehydrate blackberries and save them for snacking or to make blackberry powder! Here’s how:
Berries are in peak season during the spring, and one berry that we love the flavor of is blackberries! So when berry season arrives, we stock up!
Four days later, we would toss out. We could never eat what our heart said we wanted quickly enough. The berries would grow beards faster than we could eat them, and out they’d go.
Then, I learned to dehydrate. But we weren’t always happy with the sweet/tart flavor, because once you got through the fleshy fruit, you were left with munching the seeds which could be very bitter. We then switched to snacking on freeze-dried blackberries that are available year-round. I would buy pouches on clearance at the grocery store, or stock up on the large cans from freeze-dried food companies. And I always felt a little guilty for those containers we’d still throw out because we just couldn’t finish the fresh ones fast enough.
The a-ha moment came a few years ago when I was asked by a freeze-dried food company to taste test a few of their foods and review them. I tried one of their berry powders and thought, “Why can’t I do this with my dehydrated fruit?”. So the experimentation began, and a use came from our dehydrated berries.
Benefits of Blackberries
According to the USDA blackberries are:
- Rich in Vitamins C & K
- Are a great source of manganese, and boosts other minerals like copper, magnesium, and zinc
- Provide up to 21% of your dietary fiber
- Are a good source of folates and niacin
So don’t let these little juice bursts of flavor go to waste — let’s walk through the process to learn
HOW TO DEHYDRATE BLACKBERRIES
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!
Soak blackberries – in a 1:3 water to vinegar solution. I let them soak for five minutes or so to be sure the vinegar gets a chance to really work.
Rinse blackberries – I think rinse the berries in cool water, thoroughly. Be sure to pick out any blackberries that may already have been compromised, or any bits you don’t want in your container or dehydrator trays.
Dry blackberries – I lay out the blackberries on tea towels – rag ones because the juice can stain if the berries are breaking at all.*
TIP ►►If you are going straight to your dehydrator with your blackberries, you can lay them out on trays, set them to 145F for one hour to get rid of the surface moisture, then settle back to 125-135F and allow them to go through the full dehydrating process.
1. Lay blackberries out on dehydrator trays
I use an Excalibur dehydrator, but any dehydrator that has temperature controls will work for you. Be sure they don’t touch, and give them plenty of space to allow good airflow.
2. Dry Blackberries at 125-135F
Set your dehydrator to 135F and prepare to dry for approximately 18-30 hours. It will depend on the plumpness of your blackberries (I tend to cut really big ones down in half), and the humidity levels of your home. This batch took about 28-29 hours for me at 125F. I choose to do mine on the cooler side to prevent case hardening.
After 10 hours, my blackberries had begun to look more like raspberries!
Hitting the 22-hour mark, this is what they begin looking like:
3. Test for Doneness
I always make sure that the piece of fruit or herb or any product that I dehydrate is fully cooled before checking for doneness. Many items will firm up even more as they cool down, so I don’t want to check and assume they aren’t ready simply because they react differently when warm.
You might also like: How to Make Homemade Green Powder
How Do I Know My Dehydrated Blackberries Are Done?
Your dehydrated blackberries will shatter and sound like crinkling paper when you rub them between your fingertips.
Can I Over Dehydrate Blackberries?
You can never over-dry blackberries, but you can burn them, so be sure not to set them too high like I did recently, and lose a whole batch of blackberries. I just wasn’t paying attention, and the smaller blackberries just dried into little rocks that were not useful.
What Dehydrator Should I Use?
One that you’ll actually use is the answer!
I love my Excalibur Dehydrator. It does a ton of food and is a hard worker. However, it does take up a ton of counter space, which is at a premium for many. It runs night and day for weeks during some seasons of our lives. It’s easy to clean and maintain, and is a wonderful machine. Keep your eye out and you can often get them under $200.
I also love the Nesco FD-80 as a more moderately prices machine. It is sturdy as the plastic trays are thicker, firmer plastic than on many of the low to mid-range priced machines. It’s a top-down fan, so you’ll want to rotate your trays occasionally, but the motor is strong and it is a workhorse! And the great thing is that it is expandable! You can remove trays if you want (though I always just interspersed an empty tray if I had extras), or you can add trays to make it do more. Just remember you’ll want to rotate the more you add.
How to Store Dehydrated Blackberries
Because the fruit is fragile, I recommend storing in airtight containers with moisture absorbers included. If you want to store long term, you could add an oxygen absorber equal to the size container you’re using. Or you can vacuum seal (see my video here on how to do this). We stored them in smaller mason jars that we could rotate through.
However, we have found, over time, that we just don’t like them anymore. So this is what we do with them instead:
HOW TO MAKE BLACKBERRY POWDER
Once your blackberries are completely dry, allow them to rest for a little while. They can cool off to room temperature and you can double check that they are fully dehydrated.
Crush your blackberries
I crush by hand, then run the bits through a fine mesh strainer. This process is a bit more tedious than using a machine, but sometimes I just like the process.
Place blackberries in a zip-top bag, use a protected surface, and pound the blackberries with a meat tenderizer (I use this one from Oxo Good Grips), or use a rolling pin. Just remember, you want to protect your wood surface or wood rolling pin because blackberry seeds can cause damage with that much force. That’s why I prefer something metal and hard.
Run your crushed blackberries through a fine mesh strainer (perhaps like this one). It took awhile to work the blackberries through. You’ll be left with a few bits of seeds and some rough bits of the inner berry if it had a firm core.
Just a note: I do not use a larger blender to do this work. Blackberry seeds are very hard, and I don’t want to damage my blender by nicking the blades or scratching the jar. I also don’t want to continue blending so much to get those big pieces that I ruin the powder by blending too much. So I choose to use the smaller coffee grinder that does an excellent job, even though I have to do it in smaller batches.
Then run your ground pieces through the strainer. You want to be sure to get out all of the seed particles! Not only do they make your powder taste bitter, you just don’t want to mess with cracking a tooth!
What you are then left with is black gold!
VIEW A QUICK VIDEO ON THE PROCESS
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How to Store Blackberry Powder
Small Quantities of Blackberry Powder
Store fruit powders in air-tight containers.
I use these smaller containers that I rotate through to do things like yogurt additives
Large Quantities of Blackberry Powder
If I make a larger quantity, I can store that in small mylar bags that have been vacuum sealed, along with a moisture protector called a desiccant pack – which is silica gel – that helps absorb any moisture that might be in the bag. It is simply a precaution, because your blackberries were fully dehydrated, right?
However, at the time of posting, I didn’t have a sufficient quantity to show you how to do it. I simply will put the powder into a zip top bag along with a desiccant pack, then insert it into a mylar bag, then run through the vacuum sealer to store. The reason I use the zip-top bag is to keep the powder from getting sucked into the vacuum sealer.
Oh, who am I kidding … it’s to keep me from spilling it all over the place 🙂
You can also use resealable mylar bags that you roll to release the air from, much like you might do with a zip-top bag if you don’t have a vacuum sealer. It won’t be completely vacuum-sealed, but pretty close to it!
OTHER BERRIES TO DEHYDRATE:
The good news is this same process will work on other vine and bush grown berries like
LEARN ABOUT DRYING FRUITS:
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QUICK NOTES: DEHYDRATING BLACKBERRIES
How to Dehydrate Blackberries
- Rinse berries thoroughly.
- Allow to dry.
- Lay blackberries out on dehydrator sheets.
- Dry at 135F for 18-30 hours.
- Blackberries will shatter between fingers and sound like rustling paper when fully dehydrated.
- Store in airtight container with a desiccant pack to absorb moisture.
How to Powder Blackberries
- Use a mallet or hammer to crush blackberries in a zip-top bag.
- Alternatively, use a coffee grinder to powder blackberries.
- Run through a fine mesh strainer.
- Store in an airtight container with a desiccant pack to absorb moisture.
Uses for Blackberry Powder
- Mix into yogurt
- Sprinkle onto cupcake icing
- Use as a natural food coloring
- Add to milk instead of chocolate
- Use as a flavoring in pudding or chia pudding
- Add as a flavor boost to muffins
- Add to smoothies
- Sprinkle on oatmeal
Shared with the Oak Hill Homesteading Blog Hop