Summer is nearly here and that means dehydrating time is here. Usually my first seasonal item is strawberries. When I was little my Mom would take my brother and I berry picking so she could make jam and dry berries. One of my earliest memories is picking berries in the sun, in fields surrounded by forest. And what seemed like a forever drive to get there. We had an old Nesco American Harvest that lasted till I was in college and burnt it out drying herbs from my garden.
Over the years I have had a number of dehydrators – I always liked having one on hand for drying herbs and berries but also for my interests in outdoor cooking, my current one is a L’Equip Food Dehydrator:
I went fancy when I bought it, the styling is what drew me in. It is rectangle so it takes up less shelf and counter space and well, doesn’t scream “dehydrator!” when it is out. It is also quiet compared to some brands and does a nice job of evenly drying foods. What I also like is that it comes with mesh screen as standard, not an add-on. This makes drying smaller items easy.
The berries are tart, sweet and hot, all at once!
Peppery Dried Strawberries
- 2 lbs ripe strawberries
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp each ground black pepper and fine sea salt
Wash the berries, shake dry. Remove the stems off the top, cut in half. Toss the berries with the flavorings, distribute evenly, face down, on mesh lined trays. Set at 125-135° (or to your models recommendation).
When the berries are mostly dry flip over (hooking a fingernail under the edge makes this easy) and finish drying.
How long will it take? It depends on how big your berries are, how ripe they are and the humidity/temperature. Mine dried during a rainy period so they took 24 hours to dry. If you cut your berries thinner, say into 4 slices instead of 2 per berry they will dry much faster.
Once dry store tightly sealed, if you see moisture on the wall of the container your berries were not dried long enough. Eat quickly to avoid spoilage. For long-term storage seal tightly and freeze.