To make freeze-dried strawberries, cut the berries into 1/8-inch slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on freeze-dryer trays and use the “Not Frozen” setting on the freeze-drying machine for 24 hours.
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How to Make Freeze-Dried Strawberries in a Freeze-Dryer
A freeze-drying machine is safer than dry ice for making freeze-dried strawberries.
Here’s how to safely freeze-dry strawberries in a home-use freeze dryer:
- Select ripe fresh strawberries. They should be firm and evenly colored.
- Wash the strawberries in cold water to remove dirt and pesticides. Gently pat them dry with paper towels to reduce the water on their surfaces.
- Use a sharp knife to remove the leafy tops. Cut the strawberries into 1/8-inch thick slices using a slicer and huller set or a mandoline for uniform slices.
- Arrange the sliced strawberries in a single layer on clean freeze-dryer sheets. You can slightly overlap the slices, and they will still freeze-dry successfully.
- Open the freeze-dryer door and place the loaded sheets into the food chamber.
- Close the door, the pressure release valve, and the drain valve.
- Start the freezer dryer to run using the “Not Frozen” mode for 24 hours. If you are freeze-drying frozen strawberries, run the machine on the “Frozen” mode.
- Once the freezing and drying are complete, the display on the machine will alert you. Open the pressure release valve for the pressure to escape, and then open the food chamber.
- Take out a few pieces to test for dryness. They should be brittle when you break them in half or powdery when you crumble them.
- If the strawberries aren’t completely dry, close the door and the pressure release valve and add 2-4 hours to the drying time using the “Add More Time” button.
- Once the strawberries are fully dried, place them immediately in Mason jars and condition them for 7 days. Shake the containers daily. If condensation appears inside the jars, put them back into the freeze-drying machine and re-process them.
- Transfer freeze-dried strawberries into Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber for long-term storage. Store in a cool, dry place.
How to Pre-treat Strawberries for Freeze-Drying
Pretreating strawberries for freeze-drying is not a requirement, but it does help reduce color loss during storage.
You can pretreat the strawberries by following the steps below:
- Mix equal parts of water and bottled lemon juice to make a solution.
- Soak the fresh strawberry slices in the solution for 10 minutes.
- Remove the strawberry pieces and dab off the excess solution using paper towels.
- Once pre-treated, the strawberries can be freeze-dried.
How Long Does it Take to Freeze-Dry Strawberries?
It takes at least 24 hours to freeze-dry sliced fresh strawberries in a freeze-dryer. Whole strawberries take 24-48 hours to freeze-dry. Frozen strawberries take less time to freeze-dry as the “freezing” part of the process is already complete.
What Kind of Machine Do You Need to Freeze Dry Strawberries?
How Does a Freeze Dryer Machine Work to Freeze-Dry Fruit?
A freeze-drying machine first freezes the fruit at a temperature of -30°F to -40°F, depending on the model. Once the food freezes in the machine, the vacuum pump kicks on and removes up to 99% of the water in the food.
Once the water has been removed in a process called sublimation, the machine warms the trays and brings the fruit to the perfect temperature for storage.
How Do You Freeze-Dry Strawberries Without a Machine?
Here’s how to freeze dry strawberries with dry ice:
- Pack your fresh strawberries in freezer-safe bags. Vacuum-seal the bags to ensure ice crystals do not form on the berries.
- Weigh the fresh strawberries on a kitchen scale.
- Wear thick kitchen gloves or oven mitts and measure an equivalent amount (by weight) of dry ice. Do not handle dry ice with bare hands, or you’ll burn your skin.
- Wearing your protective gloves, pour the dry ice into a small cooler that will fit inside your freezer without limiting the space of other frozen foods. The dry ice should cover the entire bottom of the cooler.
- Place the freezer bags of strawberries in a single layer on top of the dry ice. Cover the berries with more dry ice. You may add additional layers, provided dry ice covers the top layer.
- Cover the cooler, leaving a small gap for gas and moisture to escape. This allows the food-safe dry ice to evaporate and the fruits to dry.
- Put the loaded cooler or box in the freezer. The drying time varies but will be at least 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, put on protective gloves and open the cooler or box to check for dry ice. The fruits will be fully freeze-dried when all the ice has dissipated.
- If there is no ice, remove the strawberries and store them immediately.
- If there is dry ice, replace the lid and check again with gloved hands after 3-6 hours.
- Store all freeze-dried fruits at room temperature in vacuum-sealed bags or airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place.
Can You Freeze-Dry Strawberries in an Oven?
No – you can’t use an oven to freeze dry. Ovens can be used for dehydrating frozen fruit, but they operate at a high temperature and do not have a vacuum.
Are Dehydrated Strawberries the Same as Freeze-Dried?
Dehydrated strawberries are not the same as freeze-dried strawberries. Dehydration removes 90-95% of moisture, while freeze-drying removes up to 99% of moisture from food. Freeze-dried foods are lighter than their dehydrated counterparts and retain more nutrients.
The flavor of freeze-dried strawberries is also more intense. The freeze-drying process concentrates the flavor of the berries, while dehydrating causes partial loss of the strawberry flavor.
Can You Freeze-Dry Strawberries with Other Fruits?
It is not advised to freeze-dry strawberries with other fruits. Strawberries have a water content different from other fruits, including raspberries and blueberries, so they should be freeze-dried separately.
What are the Benefits of Freeze-Drying Strawberries?
There are many benefits to freeze-drying strawberries:
- Can be crushed into strawberry powder and mixed into strawberry recipes
- Easily add them to granola or trail mix for a healthy snack
- Freeze-dried strawberries contain potassium, calcium, carbohydrates, and vitamin C
- Freeze-dried strawberries last longer than dehydrated strawberries
- Freeze-drying strawberries requires little prep time when using a freeze dryer
- Great for homesteading families looking for long-term food storage
- They are light and easy to carry on outdoor adventures
- They have a crumbly or crispy texture and aren’t chewy
How to Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Strawberries
Rehydrating freeze-dried strawberries is easy. Once rehydrated, you can use the berries in desserts, smoothies, yogurt, ice cream, and baked goods!
There are different ways to reconstitute freeze-dried strawberries:
- Soak them for up to 1 hour in cold water
- Soak them in a heat-safe container with hot water for 10-20 minutes
- Mix them with other wet ingredients, such as pancake batter, and cook them
What is the Best Way to Store Freeze-Dried Strawberries?
It’s best to store freeze-dried strawberries in Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber. The absorber removes up to 99% of the oxygen to reduce the risk of oxidation and spoilage.
Mylar bags are ideal for blocking light and can be stored at room temperature or in cold storage. The ideal storage temperature for freeze-dried strawberries is between 30°F and 36°F.
What is the Shelf Life of Freeze-Dried Strawberries?
The average shelf life of freeze-dried strawberries is 10-15 years. The shelf life may be extended to 25 years when stored in Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber.