Dehydrated Strawberries

It's that season again! Strawberry season! And that means picking at Larriland, our local western Howard County pick-your-own farm.

Lucky for us, this spring has brought a bumper crop of strawberries to the farm. When we picked last Friday, the berries were huge, juicy, and abundant. The season will last until at least mid-June, so if you still want to pick, it's not too late. Make sure you check the website before leaving home: The site is updated throughout the day.

Since I already had a large container of strawberries at home, I decided to dehydrate some before they went bad. With strawberries as juicy and delicious as the ones we picked at Larriland, I prefer to eat them fresh. But the ones in the fridge from Costco were going to rot if I didn't do something with them right away.

Last summer, I purchased an enormous dehydrator in order to preserve my gigantic pear harvest. Then I proceeded to dehydrate apple slices, sage leaves, kale chips, and just about anything I could get my grubby hands on. But I never got a chance to try strawberries until now.

My booklet said to dry berries at a temperature of 135F for 6-12 hours. This is a pretty large range, so I wasn't sure how long they'd take. At the 6 hour mark, I was ready to go to bed. Since they weren't finished drying, I turned the temperature down to about 115F and left them going for the night. When I got up in the morning, they'd had a total of 14 hours drying time.

The texture of the dried berries is slightly leathery. I like the chewiness, so I'm going to stop at this point and just store them in the freezer, as I do all my dried fruits. No matter how dry they appear, any residual moisture could cause fungus to grow, so I don't take a chance. Most of the dried fruit you purchase at the store has preservatives added. I didn't add anything to the berries before drying-- just sliced them into 1/2-1/4 inch pieces.

The flavor of the dried strawberries is awesome! Slightly tart, slightly sweet, like an explosion of strawberriness on your tongue. I'm going back to Larriland as soon as I can to pick some more berries and get some more use out of my dehydrator!