Strawberry season is undoubtedly one of the best perks of summer. Nowadays, however, you can find strawberries in supermarkets year-round—though they certainly don’t taste as good as the ones you go picking at your local orchard in June! So what do you do to satisfy that fresh strawberry craving in the middle of winter? Simple: you learn how to dehydrate strawberries!
Read on to learn all about how to dehydrate strawberries with a dehydrator, oven, and even an air fryer!
What Are Dehydrated Strawberries?
First of all, what are dehydrated strawberries? Dehydration is a food preservation technique that essentially sucks out all the moisture in a food that would cause it to go bad quickly by allowing the growth of bacteria. The food becomes dry, and strawberries hold for up to a year, depending on how intentionally you dehydrate them.
Dehydrated strawberry slices tend to shrink and become harder. You’ve certainly heard of banana chips—dehydrated strawberries are like strawberry chips!
Why Dehydrate Strawberries?
Chances are that you can buy strawberry chips from your local grocery store—but rest assured that it will probably cost you more than making them yourself, and might even be loaded with a bunch of chemicals and preservatives you just don’t need in your food.
Dehydrating strawberries is a less expensive way to preserve strawberries and enjoy their sweet flavor outside of the typical strawberry season. Plus, conscious storing in airtight containers certainly takes up less space than the original strawberry box (they don’t even need to be refrigerated), and as mentioned earlier, can keep up to one year (whereas fresh strawberries need to be consumed immediately!).
How to Dehydrate Strawberries
Now, let’s get right to learning how to dehydrate strawberries!
This one is simple. All you need is strawberries! Some people like to add lemon juice or zero-calorie sweeteners, but you don’t need to do that. If you’re not picking the strawberries yourself, I always opt for organic strawberries from my local supermarket.
When learning how to dehydrate strawberries, you will need:
- A knife
- A dehydrator, an oven, or an air fryer
- If using an oven, oven trays, and baking sheets.
Ever heard of a dehydrator? A food dehydrator is a piece of equipment that uses heating elements, fans, and vents to suck out the liquid from whatever food is being dehydrated. The process usually takes several hours.
Hopefully, you’ve heard of what an oven is—but what about an air fryer? An air fryer is usually a table-top convection oven that cooks your food in a way that gives it a crispy exterior without having to fry it in oil. It’s much healthier!
Choosing the Strawberries
The best dehydrated strawberries are made from the best fresh strawberries! That means you want to find fleshy, ripe, bright red strawberries. Avoid strawberries with a lot of white. You can even taste test one from your chosen batch, just to make sure!
Sort through them and remove any that are bruised, moldy, or show signs of insects having fed on them. If you want to be really careful about waste, you can cut out any smaller dark spots without tossing the entire strawberry.
Prepping the Strawberries
The next step in learning how to dehydrate strawberries is prepping them! I like to cut off the greens before putting my strawberries in a pasta strainer and running them under cold water to thoroughly rinse them out. I’ve found that strawberry greens attract a lot of soil and dirt, so chopping them off makes for an immediately cleaner strawberry!
After rinsing them off, I take the time to towel dry them. The wetter the strawberries are, the longer the dehydration process takes. Then I use a knife to cut the strawberries into slices that are a fourth of an inch thick.
Next, arrange the strawberry slices on whatever surface is compatible with your dehydration equipment. Dehydrators and ovens will use trays, and air fryers usually have baskets or drawers.
Whether they be on a tray or in a basket, the strawberries should be close to be efficient with space, but not so close that they touch. There should be enough space for complete airflow around every part of the strawberry slice, except for the bottom side (which will be exposed when you flip the strawberries later on). If your strawberry slices touch, they will dehydrate clumped together!
How to Dehydrate Strawberries
You’re ready to finally dehydrate your strawberries! Feel free to skip to the section dedicated to whatever dehydrating device you are using.
How to Dehydrate Strawberries in a Dehydrator
Dehydrators are relatively straightforward machines. The real question is figuring out how long it will take for your strawberries to dehydrate, and that depends on how thick the slices of strawberries are, and the temperature of your food dehydrator. Some dehydrators allow you to use a control to set the temperature as you would for an oven.
Depending on your strawberries, you can run your dehydrator as low as 135 degrees Fahrenheit, and as high as 165 degrees Fahrenheit, between six and 12 hours. The temperature and timing is very variable: the important part is to keep an eye on the strawberries, rotate them every so often, and recognize when they’ve achieved your desired dryness. Some people prefer them leathery but still pliable, while others prefer them as crisp as chips!
How to Dehydrate Strawberries in the Oven
The same considerations for learning how to dehydrate strawberries in a dehydrator apple for learning how to dehydrate strawberries in an oven—just make sure to use a baking sheet!
The only tricky part is that some ovens don’t run at temperatures low enough for dehydrating, and you run the risk of burning your strawberries to a crisp. If this might be your case, you can think about even keeping the oven door propped open to keep the temperatures lower.
How to Dehydrate Strawberries in Air Fryer
In the absence of a dehydrator, some people’s preferred method of dehydrating strawberries is, actually, with an air fryer! It does, however, present the same trickiness as an oven—you have to make sure it can run at low enough temperatures to dehydrate your strawberries without burning them: strawberry lovers seem to agree that the idea temperature for dehydrating strawberries is 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Air fryers tend to be faster—depending on the thickness of your strawberries, you could have an entire shelf/basket/drawer dehydrated in five hours!
How to Tell When Strawberries are Done
The important thing is to make sure that no moisture remains in the strawberries. To check for this, snap or tear a strawberry slice in two, and pinch it between your fingers. If any liquid gets squeezed out, that means it hasn’t been perfectly dehydrated.
Storing and Conditioning
Conditioning is the process of checking your strawberries for any leftover moisture that might cause mold in long-term storage. To do this, let the dehydrated strawberries cool down completely, then store them in an airtight container like a Zip-Lock bag. Then check the container every day for condensation.
If you discover moisture creeping around, check for mold. If you find mold, throw them away and start over. If you don’t find mold, put them back in the dehydrator/oven/air fryer, and repeat!
If after a week of daily checking and shaking you don’t see any moisture, then congratulations! You’ve successfully learned how to dehydrate strawberries. You don’t have to worry about checking them anymore, and simply store them until consumption.
I suggest you use a sharpie or label to write the date on the container, and vacuum sealing it, which allows it to keep for even longer!
How to Use Dehydrated Strawberries
Learning how to dehydrate strawberries is great because strawberry chips are amazing eaten as finger food, but you can also add them on foods like:
- Ice Cream
- Trail mix
Another great use for dehydrated strawberries is grinding them into a powder, which becomes an excellent ingredient and natural food coloring for cupcake batter, frosting, icing, smoothies, homemade granola bars, homemade cookies, milkshakes, protein shakes, and more.
Here are a couple of great recipes that will be that much easier if you already know how to dehydrate strawberries:
- Strawberries-and-Cream Cookies
- Strawberry Powder Cake (just dehydrate them instead of freeze-drying them!)
You’ve Learned How to Dehydrate Strawberries!
Strawberries are some of the most beloved fruits worldwide. While these days you can find them in most supermarkets any time of the year, there’s no denying that the strawberries you can buy at Target in December are just not as good as the fresh strawberries from your local u-pick strawberry orchard. So what do you do when you’re craving fresh strawberries during the off-season? You plan ahead and learn how to dehydrate strawberries!
Though the consistency and chew of dehydrated strawberries can never replicate that of a fresh, ripe, and juicy strawberry, you’ll still be able to enjoy that sweet summer flavor even when it’s freezing cold outside. The Survival World site has loads more articles on survival food! Check out this Complete Guide to Long-Term Food Storage.