Experiments with home dehydrated strawberries
Hi folks, thought you might enjoy the results of “playing with my food” experiments this week. Definitely falls into the “Using only shelf stable foods” category.
I decided to dehydrate a four pound bag of (grocery store) frozen strawberries yesterday, thinking they might be good to snack on. Actually, I didn’t like them too much. Commercial strawberries are usually tasteless and dehydrating them didn’t improve them. However, there’s more!
16 oz of fresh, hulled, sliced strawberries yielded 1.5 ounces, or about 3/4 cup, dehydrated berry slices. (Not freeze dried.)
Four pounds of dehydrated strawberry slices fit snugly in a quart mason jar.
What I decided to do with them was make some sort of jam or spread. The problem being, it would be hard to figure out the exact amount of water and sugar to add to get them fully hydrated and the correct sweetness without using excessive water. I decided to treat them like reconstituting dehydrated tomato paste, to make a spread.
The first task was to powder the berries in a coffee grinder. I have learned that powdering veggies (and now berries) works best if the dehydrated produce is first very cold, otherwise it’s leathery and tends to gum up the grinder. A short spell in the freezer did the trick. Something to do before the power goes out.
I used a recipe for medium syrup for canning/freezing fruit, which was approximately 1 cup water to 1/2 cup sugar. I brought this to a boil on the stove, which took the briefest time. Hot tap water would probably do to dissolve the sugar.
I powdered 1/2 cup dehydrated berry slices, which produced about 1/4 cup berry powder.
To the powder I added about 3 Tablespoons of the syrup. (Might have been 1/4 cup, start conservatively).
The resulting berry sauce was at first taste, a little too thin and had a “wet powder” mouth feel. HOWEVER, after allowing to stand a few minutes for the powder to absorb the liquid, the mixture thickened to perfect spreading consistency. Spread on buttered toast, it delivered a HUGE strawberry flavor that wasn’t boiled to death and full of commercial pectin.
This amount made enough strawberry spread to smear on 3-4 pieces of toast! No refrigerating a partially used jar of jam!
You could go with a little higher amount of sugar in the syrup if you like your “jam” sweeter. Or, you could add enough extra syrup to make a berry syrup for pancakes etc.
If you were going to powder berries (or tomatoes) BEFORE the power ever goes out, I’d strongly suggest storing the powder in vac sealed Mason jars with a silica gel pack, which I don’t have, but am going to order right now. The stuff will cake.
Maybe a person could make individual packets of pre-measured dehydrated berry powder and sugar, then “just add water”. Needless to say, that’s the next experiment!
And of course there’s always just making leather out of pureed berries.