Yay! Another opportunity to show off my latent O.C.D.!
Drying fruit is a fairly straightforward affair. Preserving vegetables, both as frozen and as dried, requires a few more steps for you but fruit, thankfully, is easy-peasy. Most of us have an oven, therefore, most of us can dry some fruit, especially if you’d like to try fruit leather. In point of fact, fruit leather is the only thing I had heretofore tried to preserve, as I didn’t have a dehydrator of my own, either plug-in or solar. The picture above is one of the school’s 3 dehydrators, liberated by yours truly for the upcoming blueberry onslaught. Today, though, it’s strawberries.
Evapotranspiration is a mighty big word but it includes a concept (transpiration) you are probably already familiar with, even if you don’t think you are, and evaporation, which you already know. All produce, all plants, transpire (wick water) as part of “what they do,” and the extreme form of this otherwise natural occurrence is dried produce, dried leaves. There’s a certain formula of heat plus wind plus relative humidity and soil moisture that farmers look to to see how their crops are growing. On a global scale, evapotranspiration is how water is exchanged in the world (rain to trees/plants and back again), but in your kitchen or in your back yard, you can use it to help preserve your fruit harvest.
I am all in favor as you know of things you DON’T plug in to an outlet, and there are plenty of sites for solar food dehydrators out there. Here’s one dear to my heart as it’s similar to the chicken tractor, plus it geeks out on the whole process of how it best happens (I do loves me some engineering). Try this at home!! Me, I am time-crunched this summer so the plug-in is the way I will go, for now. These strawberries dried in six hours, and will keep for six months.
I have just come across your blog and love it.
I recently started an online network of food gardeners and locavores called Ooooby. It began only 6 months ago and now has over 1200 members. http://www.ooooby.org
I am sure that we would all love to read your blogs on the network. It is easy enough to post summaries of your blogs there that link back to your site.
Anyway, hope to see you there and thanks for your wonderful contribution to the knowledge bank of food gardeners around the world.
I would really love to see a picture of the strawberries after they are dehydrated…..could you arrange that please…I’m sure you have nothing else to do and if you were a true OCD (self diagnosed I’m sure) like me you would want to be thorough in your presentation of how to dehydrate strawberries. 🙂 Thanks in advance…Mavis
I’m planning on going blueberry/strawberry picking today (assuming its not raining, which is not always a sound assumption these days) and this looks perfect. I’ve frozen a lot, and am planning to make jam out of some more, but dehydrated fruit is so convenient. I did apples last fall and am so happy I did. How do the blueberries dry, since they are in little “balls” as opposed to flat rings or slices? Harder/easier?
My kids love dehydrated fruit, and it’s so convenient in the car! no sticky fingers 🙂 We bought a ten tray one on ebay last year for a steal.
Pete, thanks for the offer!
Oh yeah Mavis it’s a slapdash self-diagnosis. Actually it’s just a nod to my confirmed OCD-tending husband to prove to him that, indeed, I can play his reindeer game too. But honestly, these three trays yielded a scant pint of berries: perhaps that’s too few for us, so we won’t be using this method much. Much better out of the freezer, but these dried ones are sweet.
MC, blueberries are best if you get the littler ones (closer to being the wild ones) as the dried small ones are very sweet, and can be eaten out of hand. The big ones are just kind of blah, not terribly exciting. BUT: you don’t need to do anything to them, except wash and pick them over. They just do their thing in the dehydrator.
Isn’t it convenient, Lindsay? I do know you can overdo it with them (I am remembering a rather sorry roadtrip where our girl ate too many dried apricots) but a few will tide them over until you get there.
I am using both the solar and the electric and having a great time.
I tried making yoghurt leather. Good, but I like others better.
I dried some native persimmons (diaspyros virginiana ) that I found growing wild. They taste great, a lot like dates, but they contained so many seeds that I wasn’t able to separate out the seeds from the flesh. There are a lot more on the trees that I hope to get when they ripen–any ideas on methods to dry them? or of easily removing the seeds?
I live in South Carolina and this weekend I dried muscadines (a big grape the size of a pingpong ball). They are awesome!