Home drying using a food dehydrator is an easy way to preserve the taste of blueberries (and other fruits and vegetables) year round, whether stocking up on them on sale, or harvesting them. Unlike other methods of food preservation (i.e. freezing and canning), dehydration allows you to preserve tasty berriess with almost no loss of flavor and minimal loss of nutrition
Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits for the beginner to dehydrate well. Unlike some other fruits and vegetables blueberries need almost no advance preparation (pre-treating, blanching, etc.) and require no added sugar, sulfites, or other preservatives. This makes them an easy fruit to dehydrate. Store bought dehydrated blueberries are often hard to find and expensive and usually contain unnecessary sulfites and added sugar.
Uses: Dehydrated blueberries are great added to muffins, scones, and pancakes, as well as sprinkled in your cereal. They are also great as part of a healthy trail mix if you are a camper, hiker, long distance biker, or mountain climber.
Equipment and steps: To get started, all you need is your blueberries, a knife to cut the fruit and a food dehydrator.
- Start with fresh, high quality blueberries. Hand wash them with water, shake out as much water as possible, pat them dry and put in a bowl.
- You can dehydrate whole blueberries as easily and as well as halved blueberries, but halving cuts down on the dehydration time.
- Lay your halved blueberries cut side down on the dehydrator trays, leaving at least half a blueberry’s thickness sized space between each berry (approx. 1/16 of an inch).
- Place your first filled dehydrator tray in your open food dehydrator.
- As you continue to fill dehydrator racks with berries, stack the completed trays on top of each other.
- When you are out of blueberries to stack on trays, put the cover on your dehydrator and turn it on!
Time: Like microwaves, different dehydrators take different times to do their job. Blueberries can take between 8-12 hours to dehydrate. The important thing to remember is that you want the finished blueberries to be brittle and leathery but still chewy; like very dry raisins.
Tip: Set the dehydrator up a few hours before going to bed so it can work while you sleep. Alternatively, set the dehydrator up just before leaving for work and come home to a batch of preserved berries!
At the 7 1/2-8 hour mark check on the blueberries to see how they are doing. With some dehydrators, the blueberries on the bottom racks may dry out sooner than the ones in the top trays as they are closer to the heat source. The bottom trays might need to be removed from the dehydrator before the top trays.
Tip: If your food dehydrator does not have a timer, buy a plug in appliance timer, set it for 8 hours, plug your dehydrator into it and the dehydrator turns itself off.
After you harvest your blueberries, allow them to cool a little before storing the dried fruit in resealable containers to preserve their freshness.
Adapted from an article written by Doug DuCap
Published 8/22/2009 12:00:00 AM