There is nothing that says summer like fresh, local, organic strawberries. After I read Sharon Astyk’s book about food preservation a couple of years ago I really wanted to try to dehydrate strawberries. She mentioned that when she opened the jar it was like smelling summer. She was so right!
There are so many reasons why I wanted to dehydrate strawberries for us to have throughout the year. I have to admit I used to be a person who would buy organic strawberries from Chile in January. The horrid eco-footprint, bland taste, high cost and a little nudging in the right direction from my husband made me determined not to buy them out of season again.
So, last year (2010) we decided to dehydrate enough strawberries to have a pint to open every other week for the year (that is about 28 pints). We did a little more than that last year and we had two pints left over when we bought our first flat of strawberries this season!
I also have to mention that I made it through the whole year without buying organic strawberries! Not only did it save us money, it felt great! And you know what? I didn’t miss them at all because we had our strawberries. We ate them like candy all year long.
How did I do it? Well, we have an Excalibur dehydrator. We love it! It can fit 1 flat of strawberries in the dehydrator at a time. Each full load I get about 6 1/2 pints of dried strawberries. I store them in canning jars and use our vacuum sealer to seal them shut. They stayed fresh and yummy all year!
Last year I was 8 months pregnant with Tabitha while cutting strawberries. I thought that was challenging. Ha! This year I cut most of them outside on the picnic table while trying to watch both of the kids. Because I knew how much I had to do, this year seemed to go quickly.
We have found the larger strawberries work better for dehydrating and the smaller ones for jam. Where do we get all of those strawberries? We get them from our local Farmer’s Market. We have been getting them from Hayton Farms for the last two years. They are picked the morning of the market. They are so ripe and so fresh that you really have to use them that same day.
From this year on, I just have to add a few more pints as we have more “eaters” in our family. It is a great way to save money, support local farmers, and enjoy strawberries all year round. When we open a pint of strawberries it truly smells like a bit of summer in a jar! Enjoy!