Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dehydrating Strawberries

I don't have a dehydrator. I don't particularly want one: takes up space in the house, and it's another thing that runs on electricity. The modern stoves don't have a pilot light and can't run as low as 100-120°. So I decided to take some of the strawberries that didn't get made into jam, and try the old-fashioned way of dehydrating them.
I borrowed a screen from a window. (Paul says this set-up looks white-trashy.) If this works, we might make some frames with mesh so that I don't have to raid a window next time. I put the screen of berries (covered with a thin towel) on sawhorses on the deck -- the hottest place we have around here. Of course, the temps dropped 30° since the end of last week, and it's cloudy and occasionally drizzly. Remember those commercials about Sun-Maid raisins? Well, I need the sun to do its thing to dehydrate my berries, and it's not cooperating!

I tried putting the screen in the van -- another nice hot place. So far, they're drying up without signs of mold. But it would've worked a lot faster last week!


  1. Good luck with your experiment :)

    I have to tell you that I was in your Janesville Woodman's this morning. Whoa, is it big! I guess I've gotten so used to the two little grocery stores up here that I forgot some stores have more than eight aisles. Impressive!

  2. Susan, obviously you are doing something wrong. With global warming gone crazy as it has, your berries obviously should be drying up quite well if you actually knew what you were doing. There's obviously too much heat. No, I'm sorry, but this horrendously hot summer that threatens to end all life on earth is not the problem.

    Maybe you should try a different window screen.

  3. Forget sem, give that guy an M.Div in sarcasm!

    Don't suppose you've got attic space to use?

  4. Ah, Barbara, you make me homesick... :-)

    Nathan, obviously I should move to Ft Wayne where you actually are having summer. Then maybe my corn and tomatoes would grow.

    EC, yeah, he's pretty good, ain't he? And I did think about the attic, but figured the van was a place I'd less likely forget them. Maybe I should check the temps up there and see if we're still harboring heat from those three days of summer last week.

  5. Update --
    A week and a half later, and the strawberries dehydrated nicely. With highs only in the 70s (and some days only in the 60s) it took a while. But it worked. I think the first two days, with plenty of sun, helped start them drying and shrinking, so that they didn't spoil as the days got cooler and cloudier and the speed of dehydrating slowed. Stunning to me that a quart of strawberries turns into a mere 1/3 or 1/2 cup. I guess that's a GOOD thing if you've got limited space for storing food.