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Dried strawberries are strawberries that have had most, or all, of the water in them removed through evaporative heating. Strawberries still retaining a little moisture may look deflated, but have a soft consistency. Totally dried strawberries will be hard, brittle strawberry chips. The first kind of dried berry usually results from drying them whole, while the second type results from drying sliced fruit. Home cooks may make either kind of dried berry with a dehydrator, in the oven, or through sun-drying.
The process of drying strawberries not only preserves them for several months, it also helps the berries retain their nutritional value. Strawberries contain high concentrations of vitamin C, folates, and potassium, all of which are sealed into them when they’re dried. Dehydration also concentrates the sugars in the strawberries, making them taste sweeter than fresh berries. Both soft and crisp dried strawberries are popular additions to ice cream, cereal, parfaits, and granola mixes.
Though manufacturers produce dried strawberries for sale in grocery stores, some versions may contain high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient some people find disagreeable. Commercially-made dried strawberries sometimes also contain chemical preservatives, and organic versions can be very expensive. Those that want to try dried strawberries may want to make a few batches at home. The process is usually cheaper than purchasing them and requires no artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
Making dried strawberries at home starts with washing them under cool, running water and slicing away the leafy caps. Cooks should also slice away any white flesh around the caps, as this flesh rarely has much flavor and can sometimes be unpleasantly tart. After discarding the caps, slice the strawberries over a bowl containing either lemon juice or water mixed with ascorbic acid. This acid may be obtained at cooking stores, though one may substitute a crushed vitamin C tablet. This acidic bath generally keeps the strawberry slices from turning brown and preserves the flavor during drying.
Many home cooks believe that using an electric dehydrator is the simplest drying method. For most dehydrators, one must simply place the strawberry slices on the slotted trays provided with the machine, slide them back into place, and turn on the machine. Most models require about 12 hours to dry berry slices fully. Some versions allow the owner to change the temperature, but most only heat up to about 118°F (48°C), which is typically the ideal temperature for drying fruit.
The second method for making dried strawberries requires only an oven. For this method, the home cook generally lays the strawberry slices out on parchment-lined cookie sheets and slips them into an oven set no higher than 'warm.' The cook must then prop the oven door open slightly so air can flow around the berry slices. Though this drying method takes only about six hours, it is not usually energy-efficient and can result in burned strawberries without supervision.
The third method involves sun-drying. While this is typically the most energy-efficient drying method, it also takes the longest and requires very specific weather conditions. The outdoor temperature must be no lower than about 80 to 85°F (about 27 to 30°C) and the days must be sunny and dry. Cooks using this method usually spread the slices out on a piece of clean window screening propped above reflective aluminum flashing. The flashing reflects heat onto the strawberries, while the spaces between the screen and the flashing allow air flow. This method may take up to 24 hours, depending on weather conditions.
While I have never tried dried strawberries before, after reading this article, it certainly has me interested. Granola mixes are one of my favorite snacks, and that's mainly because of the dried fruits, which are full of nutrients. Generally speaking though, I like to make my own granola mix and dried fruit at home. I really agree with this article in the sense that store bought mixes are normally processed, and the prices are ridiculously high, as a way to get money off of you. If you have the time, money, and resources to make your own at home, then go for it.
The third paragraph really caught my attention, as I wasn't even aware of this practice. For the most part, my guess is that the high fructose corn syrup is meant to keep the strawberries around for a lot longer.
From reading this, this is exactly why one needs to be careful with the kinds of products that they buy, as unless you read the instructions, you'll never know what kind of ingredients are in it.
If the product is simple enough to make, instead of wasting time buying the more expensive kind, you can even make your own at home. On a final note, in reference to the preservatives that are used in the dried strawberries (and possibly
other fruits as well), it really shows how times have changed, and in this day and age, things are becoming less and less natural.
While we can still buy fruits and vegetables from the store, it really makes you wonder how much of it is natural, and how much of it contains preservatives and pesticides.
Even though I am familiar with many different types of dried fruit, I have never heard of dried strawberries. After reading this article, I think it's safe to assume that practically any fruit can be dried for good measure, especially if you're trying to put it in granola mix. From my perspective though, it seems like some people don't like dried fruit because they think all of the nutrients would be sucked out of it. While this is understandable, I think that for the most part, people have nothing to worry about.
After all, people eat dried fruit (straight from the bag) all the time, and in those cases, they're just as healthy, if not even more so, than
fresh fruit. For those who are still worried about fruit losing its nutrients if you were to dry it out, whether this is the case or not, dehydrating them is a fantastic way to keep them around for long. While fresh fruit is a great treat that anyone can enjoy, one problem some may find is that it goes bad way too fast. By drying your fruit, and saving it for later, you're reaping all the nutritional benefits without having to worry about it spoiling anytime soon.
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