Making and preserving food in a dehydrator is not only efficient and a fantastic way to keep your fruit, vegetables and berries good for a very long time, but dehydrated food also makes amazing additives to drinks, salads, dishes, sauces, dessert toppings and more.
A dehydrator is one of the handiest tools you can have in your kitchen, especially if you are a backyard gardener or you love to buy fruit and vegetables at the farmers market.
I have a lot of favorite foods that are made in the dehydrator, and among them is strawberries. Not only is dehydrating them a great way to preserve them, it makes them into a tasty, healthy snack as well.
Strawberries are one of the most versatile dehydrated foods you can make, because they can be added to so many different recipes, plus, drying them is very easy to do. Many people like to dry their strawberries in the oven on baking sheets or a cookie sheet, but we have a method that gives better results.
Today, we are going to share how to dehydrate strawberries using the best tried method.
Use dried strawberries and strawberry slices in:
- pancake batter
- ice cream
- cake batter
- cupcake batter
- strawberry cupcakes
- strawberry chips
- trail mix
- fruit leather
- salads and salad dressings
- and more!
Dehydrating strawberry slices or whole strawberries is very easy to do, and you can store them in containers for easy use in any of your recipes. Plus, they look gorgeous in a mason jar on any kitchen shelf.
If you know how to dehydrate strawberries properly and let them cool completely, you can maintain their beautiful red color to showcase them like jewels in your baking, garnishes and decorating. This is the perfect activity to do during strawberry season.
Here is how to properly dry strawberry slices or whole berries for a healthy snack, plus tips for getting the best results and the best storage options to preserve for longevity.
How To Dehydrate Strawberries
Here is what you will need for dehydrating strawberries and other fresh fruit:
Ripe strawberries: washed, dried and sliced how you prefer to dry them. (Try to look for them from a farmers market if you don't grow your own, or get them from the organic section of your supermarket if you want to go for taste as opposed to size).
A sharp knife (if you plan on using sliced strawberries)
How A Dehydrator Works
A dehydrator is a must-have kitchen tool for anyone who grows their own food, has fruit trees, berry bushes or for anyone who loves preserving food for delicious recipes. A dehydrator is versatile and makes the most delicious snacks, garnishes and treats.
With a dehydrator, you can dry:
- fresh strawberries
- banana chips
- fruit leather
- fresh fruit
- and many more recipes
A dehydrator is a great way to preserve fruit, vegetables, herbs, berries and meat by using a heating element and a fan either behind a number of drying racks or below them, where the drying racks are perforated to allow the air to flow through.
When the dehydrator is plugged in and turned on, the low temperature heating element warms the food slowly which causes the water content in the food to evaporate over a number of hours.
Because bacteria needs water to develop and grow, removing the water content from food preserves it as bacteria is unable to develop the way it normally would.
What To Look For In A Food Dehydrator
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When looking for a good dehydrator, it is best to purchase one where the fan and heating element are located at the back of the unit, as opposed to a dehydrator where the fan and heating element are underneath.
When the fan and heating element are at the back of the unit, it tends to flow more evenly over your racks of dehydrated food.
When the fan and heating element are at the bottom of your dehydrator, you tend to have to rotate the racks around as the ones closest to the bottom will dry the food out more, leaving you with uneven dehydration levels.
The Best Food Dehydrator For Fruit
The best dehydrator in our opinion, and this seems to be the same across the board, is the Excalibur dehydrator. What is great about this dehydrator, is that it comes in the following different dehydrator tray sizes:
- 4 dehydrating trays
- 5 dehydrating trays
- 9 dehydrating trays
- 10 dehydrating trays
If you want to get the most out of your dehydrator from each of these options, then you will want to opt for the 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator. You are going to find that 4 dehydrator trays is just not enough space, and for just a bit more money than the 5, you get almost double the area.
This dehydrator brand has the heating element and the fan in the back of the unit, so your food will evenly dry out, and the dryness level will be consistent.
This is long toted as the best dehydrator out there, by gardeners and professionals in the industry alike. A great feature of this tool is that the temperature range is low enough to preserve active enzymes in the fruit and vegetables and is also high enough to meet safety standards for dehydrating meat for jerky.
How To Slice The Strawberries For The Dehydrator
There are two main ways to dry strawberries in the dehydrator: in slices and whole.
Sliced fresh strawberries: Slice strawberries before you dehydrate them with a sharp knife. Sliced strawberries will allow for a more even level of dehydration if you slice them all the same thickness, say for example, making them all 1/2 inch thick slices to 1 inch thick slices.
Thicker slices may take a bit more time to dehydrate so if you want thoroughly dried fruit, slice the strawberries thin. Sliced strawberries is the best method if you plan on incorporating them in cooking and baking or breaking them up into strawberry pieces, or if you plan on making strawberry powder once they are dried.
Whole fresh strawberries: Leaving your fresh strawberries whole in the dehydrator is an easy way to dry them out if you don't mind that the smaller ones may be slightly less chewy than then larger ones. If left whole, your berries will be different sizes naturally and this will make for uneven dryness levels among them.
This method is great if you want to quickly dehydrate strawberries or if you plan on snacking on them whole, adding them to trail mixes or garnishing a drink or dessert for the looks of the whole berry. Dried whole strawberries do make the perfect snack.
Dehydrating Your Strawberries: STEPS
Here are your step-by-step instructions for how to dehydrate strawberries in the dehydrator:
- Choose your strawberries and cut the green stem off the top and gently wash them in cold water. If you plan on making a lot, you may want to consider this strawberry huller and slicer kit, it's a great price coming in under $10 and will save you tons of time: Strawberry Huller and Slicer Kit
- Place strawberry slices or whole, fresh strawberries to dry on the dehydrator trays so that there is at least a half-inch of space between the slices or the whole fruit and make sure they are in a single layer. This is the beginning of your dehydration process.
- Set the dehydrator's temperature to 135 F or to low if you don't have a numerical temperature setting. It will take between 8 to 10 hours to fully dry the strawberries. If you are wanting them dryer for longer storage or to powder, you can continue to dry them for a few hours, up to 14 hours total.
- Check the drying strawberries. Once you feel like they are done, take 2 out. Let them cool for about 30 minutes, then break them each in half. There should be no visible moisture along the surface of the break. This is how you will know they are in fact ready, and you can take your drying racks out or place your completely dried fruit on a cooling rack.
How To Store Dehydrated Strawberries
Dried strawberries and dehydrated strawberry slices will last a long time if properly kept in airtight containers in a cool dark place. I love to keep my dried fruit and herbs in Mason jars in my cupboard, just for the look of them. There is something so beautiful about the bright colors of your own preserved fruit in glass jars or your own choice of airtight container.
If you want to go for preservation longevity, you can vacuum seal your dehydrated berries and other fruit and keep them in your pantry. They will last for many, many years like this as long as long as the seal is kept closed until ready to eat or use.
As a third option, go ahead and grind your dried strawberries in to make perfectly dehydrated strawberry powder for your drinks, batters, doughs, sauces and more.
Long Term Food Storage With A Vacuum Sealer
If you are wanting to store your food for longer term storage, whether you have dehydrated it or you want to store it fresh, you can store them in an airtight container. But if you want long-term storage, it is absolutely worth getting a countertop vacuum sealer.
From coffee to fruit, vegetables, berries and meat, a vacuum sealer will allow your food to stay fresh for much longer.
For example: Fruit may stay fresh for 2-6 days in the fridge, but if it were vacuum sealed in the fridge it would stay fresh for weeks. If if it were dehydrated and then vacuum sealed, you would have that dried fruit for years.
The Best Vacuum Sealer
America's Test Kitchen did several tests on many different makes and models of vacuum sealers and they had a clear winner, and that was the Nesco Deluxe Vacuum Sealer.
This vacuum sealer is easy to use, performs beautifully, has an automatic mode, a manual mode, a pulse feature and a gentle feature for delicate foods. It has a nice handle and it only weighs about 6 pounds.
We especially love this one because of the price tag. Long considered a favorite among professionals, the Nesco Deluxe Vacuum Sealer is a top choice for performance and price.
Summary For Dehydrated Strawberries:
- Dried strawberries are one of the most versatile dehydrated foods you can make, because they can be added to so many different recipes
- When the dehydrator is plugged in and turned on, the low temperature heating element warms the food slowly which causes the water content in the food to evaporate over a number of hours
- There are two main ways to dry strawberries in the dehydrator: as strawberry slices or whole
- To dry them in a food dehydrator, you first choose your strawberries and cut the greens off, wash them, slice them or leave whole, arrange them so there is at least a half-inch of space between them and turn the temperature to 135 F
- It will take between 8 to 10 hours to dry your strawberries and strawberry slices
- Store your dried strawberries in an airtight container or a Mason jar
- For extra longevity vacuum seal your dehydrated berries or grind them to make dehydrated strawberry powder
Here are some other questions people are asking about dehydrating strawberries:
Are dehydrated strawberries good?
Dehydrated strawberries are a sweet, chewy treat that can be enjoyed on their own or in your baking, trail mix, pancakes, in parfaits, ice cream or on cakes, desserts and special drinks. If you enjoy your strawberries sliced, you are going to love them as sliced dehydrated fruit. Not only are they delicious but it is a fantastic way to to preserve strawberries.
How long will dehydrated strawberries last?
Dehydrated strawberries and strawberry slices will last for 4 - 12 months if they are completely dry. If they are frozen they will last 12 - 18 months, if dried and vacuum sealed they will last for many years.
How do you prepare strawberries for dehydration?
Simply washing and drying your berries is all you need to do to prepare them for dehydration. Make sure they are dry before slicing or putting them on the trays.
How long does it take to dehydrate whole strawberries?
Depending on the size of your berries, if they are whole they can take anywhere from 8 - 12 hours to fully dry.
What can you do with dehydrated strawberries?
Once they are properly dried and are completely cool, use dehydrated berries in your breakfast dishes like pancake and crepe mixes, in your muffin mix, french toast, parfaits and yogurt dishes. They are also great in any dessert such as cake, cupcakes, icing, fruit dips and are beautiful on drinks.
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