If you’re after a healthy snack to take with you while hiking or just want to add some delicious flavor to your morning granola, why not consider freeze-drying some strawberries? Both fresh and frozen strawberries can be freeze-dried, and we show you how with these easy steps.
1. Prepare Your Strawberries
To stop your strawberries from turning a darker color, you can pre-treat them by soaking them in a lemon juice solution. First, though, you want to ensure that you only select firm, ripe strawberries, as these will have the best flavor.
To pre-treat your strawberries, soak them in a solution of equal parts water and lemon juice for around 10 minutes. Drain them well before preparing them for drying.
Hull your strawberries and cut them into uniform slices. You want the slices to be around 1/8 of an inch thick for optimum drying. You can use an egg slicer to make this easier.
2. Place Your Strawberries On The Freeze-Dryer Trays
It’s a good idea to line your freeze-dryer trays with baking or parchment paper to stop them from sticking. This will make it much easier to remove the dried strawberries once they’re done.
Place your strawberry slices on the trays in a single layer and ensure there’s a little space between them. This will aid in the drying process.
3. Turn On Your Freeze Dryer
Place the trays with the strawberries in the freeze-dryer and turn the freeze-dryer on. It will run through its cycle and let you know when it’s done.
The freeze-drying process could take between 12 to 24 hours. This will depend on whether you used fresh or frozen strawberries to start with.
4. Take Your Strawberries Out Of The Freeze Dryer
When your strawberries are completely dry, they’ll generally be brittle. Once they’re at this stage, it’s just a case of taking them off the trays and putting them into a container that is completely airtight.
It’s important to do this straight away as these fruits have a tendency to re-absorb moisture if left out for more than an hour.
5. Condition Your Dried Strawberries For Long-Term Storage
To ensure that your strawberries are completely dry and will not be subject to mold, you want to condition them before storing them away.
To do this, you want to keep your strawberries on your kitchen bench for around 5 to 10 days and shake the jar or container every day. This will allow you to see if any condensation gathers on the inside of the jar.
If you do see some condensation, then your strawberries aren’t dry enough and will have to be returned to the freeze-drier until all the moisture has left them. If you do have to re-dry them, make sure you also repeat the conditioning process as before.
6. Long-Term Storage Tips
One of the best ways to store your freeze-dried strawberries for the longest time is to put them into a vacuum seal bag, and vacuum seal them. You can also purchase a special vacuum seal accessory if you want to store your strawberries in a mason jar instead.
It’s also a good idea to add an oxygen absorber sachet into the jar before storing it. This will help to remove extra oxygen from the jar and keep your strawberries for the longest time. In fact, freeze-dried strawberries can be stored for around 10 to 15 years if they’re vacuum sealed, and you’ve used an oxygen absorber.
Of course, you want to ensure that you store your strawberries in a cool, dry, and dark spot like your pantry or store cupboard.
What If You Don’t Have A Freeze-Dryer?
If you don’t have a freeze-dryer in your home, you could use a food dehydrator instead. They basically serve the same purpose. That is to remove around 80% to 95% of the moisture from the strawberries.
While a freeze-dryer uses a cycle of heat and cold plus a vacuum to remove the moisture, a dehydrator only uses low heat to extract the moisture from the fruit. For this reason, a freeze-dryer will remove around 95% of the moisture, while a dehydrator will remove around 80%.
However, using a dehydrator is still an effective way of drying your strawberries for long-term storage.
How To Dry Your Strawberries In A Dehydrator
- Pre-treat your strawberries by soaking them in lemon juice and water.
- Drain your strawberries and pat them dry.
- Remove the hulls and slice your strawberries into uniform slices.
- Place some parchment paper on your dehydrator trays.
- Lay the strawberries on the trays in a single layer, leaving a little room between each slice.
- Set your dehydrator to 125 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). Remember that the lower the temperature, the longer the drying process will take, but the better results you’re going to get.
- Turn on your dehydrator and let it run. Depending on your model of the dehydrator and how humid the air is, it could take anywhere from 8 to 48 hours for your strawberries to dry completely.
- Check your strawberries after around 8 hours to see how the drying process is going. If the strawberries are still quite soft and pliable, leave them in until they are completely dry.
- Once the strawberries are completely dry, take them out of the dehydrator and let them cool down for around 30 or so minutes.
- When they’ve cooled down, you can pack your strawberries into an airtight container.
- Complete the conditioning process for around 5 to 10 days, and then store your strawberries in a cool dark spot.
Other Ways To Dehydrate Strawberries
If you don’t have a freeze-dryer or a food dehydrator, you could use your oven or air fryer to dry them instead.
- You can dry your strawberries in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius) for around 2 hours. Then, flip them over and put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes to 1 hour until they’re fully dry.
- For drying in an air fryer, select the lowest heat setting and cook the strawberry slices for around 30 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another 30 minutes.