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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Freezing & Dehydrating Fresh Local Strawberries

We are so spoiled in our area, by the fabulous strawberries available in Reynolds, GA, at The Strawberry Patch/Taylor County Orchards.  This year has been a really good year, and we've been able to put up a lot of strawberries.  My husband says it would be less expensive if we bought a hundred strawberry plants and grew them ourselves.  He's probably right.  But the folks at The Strawberry Patch know what they're doing, and as long as we can afford the gas to get there, and those wonderful buckets of strawberry goodness, I'd like to keep them in business ;)

I've put up a couple of cases of strawberry jam & strawberry syrup.  I've also dried a couple quarts of strawberries (for granola or for just snacking - dried strawberries are delicious!), and frozen many quarts of strawberries.  My husband makes a lot of smoothies, so the frozen strawberries come in handy!

Years ago, a very nice lady in Stuarts Draft, VA, Gayle Weaver, told me how to freeze strawberries.

  1. Rinse strawberries.
  2. Remove caps.
  3. Dip in lemon juice.
  4. Place individual strawberries (whole or half, depending on size preferred) on freezer-paper lined cookie sheet.
  5. Freeze.
  6. Once the fruit is frozen, remove from freezer paper and put in freezer bag (be sure to label & date).
  7. Repeat until you've frozen all you need.
This procedure works great for any frozen fruit (bananas, blueberries, figs, peaches, strawberries, etc.).

The dehydrating procedure is pretty simple, too.  I am so thankful to Claudya Muller, for sharing her wonderful dehydrator with us!
  1. Rinse fruit.
  2. Remove caps.
  3. Dip in lemon juice (I do this with all fruit I'm freezing or dehydrating, to help preserve color).
  4. Slice in half, and lay cut side up on dehydrator trays.  Or if you prefer smaller pieces use egg slicer (see photo).  
  5. My dehydrator book says to dry strawberries at 115 degrees F. for 12 to 18 hours.  The fruit setting on my dehydrator is 135 degrees F. for 6 to 12 hours.  Go figure.  I opt  for the higher temperature for a few hours, then reduce to the lower temperatures until the fruit is dry and crisp.
  6. Once fruit is dry, put in container (I use ziplocs) and label/date.  

I read somewhere that as a precaution, put all dried fruit in freezer for two weeks, just in case they might have critters.  Yuk.  I happily do so, just in case.

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