So besides canning, this year I have really gotten into dehydrating fruits and veggies. I have done apricots, strawberries, cherries, peppers and mushrooms. Strawberries are our favorites, as we have family movie night every friday night and we use them as movie snacks along with air popped popcorn. (stay AWAY from the microwave stuff! Not only is it chock full of sulfites, it’s also full of lots of other yucky chemicals.) We got a microwave air popper from my awesome MIL for Christmas (This one) and we use it pretty much all the time. It is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it!
Anyway, back to dehydrated food. Depending on which fruits you use, the method is different for drying, but strawberries are the easiest in my opinion. We are fortunate enough to live very close to a fantastic produce stand, and flats of strawberries are $12 each. (Locals! If you haven’t been to Larry’s Produce, Run, don’t walk there!!) I usually buy 2 and dry an entire flat and use the rest for strawberry jam or syrup. Strawberries go bad very quickly so be prepared to process them in any way you are going to either the same day or next day, unless you have room in your refrigerator!
So first things first! I wash all my fruits and veggies with a mix of 3:1 water:vinegar solution. It is in a spray bottle and I just spray all the fruit and rinse it.
I then lay them out, touching but not overlapping on my dehydrator sheets.
I use this dehydrator. There are definitely better ones out there, but I wasn’t looking to invest hundreds of dollars, and this has fantastic reviews. The only thing I don’t like about it, is I wish it had an on/off switch and I didn’t have to unplug it every time I wanted it off. I also purchased 4 additional trays, which adds quite a bit of time to the drying time, but is worth it making larger batches.
(see how close they are?)
Here they are about halfway through the drying process:
Please excuse the wonky colors. I took this shot at night under my tungsten lights.
Once you dry fruits or veggies a couple of times, you will get used to how they feel when they are dry. To tell if they are ready to be pulled off the sheet, feel them, if they feel dry and leathery they are done. If you are unsure, tear it in half over the part you are unsure about, and if you see liquid, it needs longer drying time.
And that’s it! You will be opened to a world of new snacking options!!