[Today I'm happy to welcome my friend, K.C. Pagano. She blogs about her life as a make-it-from-scratch mama in the desert at Olive and Owl. She also sells pot holders, coasters, and other kitchen-y textiles at her Olive and Owl Etsy shop.]
Hello everyone, I am so pleased to be guest posting today here on My Bit of Earth while Meryl is off to adventure.
Here in Tucson spring has already made it’s mark, trees are blossoming, wild flowers are out in full force and the farmers markets are bustling with citrus and dark leafy greens and of course strawberries. Now you might wonder how well strawberries grow in the desert and for the most part they don’t, but being so close to California we tend to get the first run of the strawberries.
Every February and March there is a lovely couple from just over the boarder who bring crates of organic strawberries to sell at the market. Of course, if you go to a market with children, which I always do, they will ask for strawberries if they see them. How could I say no to fresh fruit?
Strawberries, once picked, have a very short shelf life so it’s best to process them the day you buy them. There are many way to process strawberries, you could freeze them, make jam, or fruit leathers, or as I did, dehydrate them. Dehydrated fruit is wonderful because it concentrates the flavors and allows you to keep the item for much longer with much less space taken up.
Strawberries are wonderful dehydrated because they become intensely flavorful and sweet. You can put them on your oatmeal or in granola or just eat them right from the dehydrator tray (because my kids have found out the secret of how good they are)!
The process is super simple it takes about 10 minutes prep time and 4-5 hours to dehydrate.
1 quart of organic strawberries (underripe or ripe are fine, no overripe ones please, save those for jam making.)
Begin by washing and drying all of your strawberries.
Cut the stems and leaves off and save them for the worms or compost pile.
Next slice the strawberries in round about ¼ inch thick.
As you cut them lay them out on the dehydrator tray or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure they are all in a single layer.
Once all the strawberries are sliced simply stack the trays and turn on the dehydrator to the manufacturer’s setting. Mine happens to be 135 degrees for fruit.
If you are using an oven I recommend turning the oven to the lowest temperature setting between warm and 135 degrees if you can set yours that low. Then open the oven door a crack and allow to dehydrate for 4-5 hours until strawberries feel dry to the touch. They should not be squishy at all.
I like to leave my fruit covered overnight to cool down and then I put it all in a mason jar. If you manage not to eat them all in one sitting they will last for 6 months.
*If you see any moisture on the sides of your mason jar after you’ve stored away the strawberries that means they were not done drying. Place them out on baking sheet and let them air dry for another day.
* This process can of course be doubled or trippled. Dehydrated fruits become much smaller of course and so you’ll lose a lot of volume once the fruit is dry.