Spain is the second largest supplier of strawberries worldwide. Though there is an early strawberry season that lasts from November to April, the bulk of Spanish strawberry production in the province of Huelva in Andalusia takes place from January or February to July.
So when they are not easily available, drying strawberries is a wonderful way to preserve and use these amazing fruits throughout the year.
Strawberries do not ripen once picked, and are easily spoiled, so get to work on them as soon as you can. If you plan on storing them for a day or two the best way is to place them as is with tops attached in a colander and store uncovered in the fridge. Before you do, sort through the strawberries and discard any that are mouldy, damaged or diseased.
When you are ready to prepare them for drying, first wash them carefully in a solution of water and cider vinegar (this will get rid of any bacteria or contaminant on the fruit). Do not soak otherwise they will absorb the water and lose some of their taste. Also wash them with the tops still attached. Dry gently with paper towel. Then you can remove the tops – use a sharp knife.
Drying strawberries is a great way to preserve them and extend their shelf life. If you dry them yourself you can also be sure that no chemicals have been added.
It’s a fairly easy process and you don’t need any fancy equipment either!
Slice the strawberries into thin slices or simply liquidise the fruit into a pulp.
That’s the preparation. There are a number of ways to dry the fruit. You can
- Use a dehydrator if you have one. Just follow the instructions given
- Use a conventional oven. Take a baking tray and line it with baking paper. Spread the sliced strawberries out on the paper, or if you are using pulp, spread it to about 2mm thick. You can either preheat the oven to 200 degrees, switch off and leave the strawberries in the oven overnight, or leave the strawberries in the oven at 100 degrees for about 3 hours.
- Dry in the sun. Make sure the strawberries are covered to protect them from flies and insects, and leave for 6 hours or more
- Use a halogen oven (see my directions below.)
I have used my halogen oven for drying strawberries. I find it works best if I set the temperature to the absolute lowest setting and put the slices or puree on greaseproof paper then on the bottom grid. Never set the temperature higher than 125 or you will be destroying the nutritional content of the strawberries
Once dried, there a many ways in which you can use them. They can be stored sliced or you could make strawberry powder for use in drinks and desserts.
- Shrubs – I have made a strawberry shrub using dried strawberries and it tastes amazing!
- Sprinkle on cereal or ice cream
- Add to smoothies and milk
- Use in Salad dressing (Make strawberry vinegar)
For more on this wonderful fruit take a look at my short book on the subject available on Amazon.