Monday, July 18, 2011

dehydrating strawberries in solar oven



I have a lot of strawberries in my patch & I love drying them. My son eats them like candy & they're completely healthy! I hate the sound of my dehydrator going all day though, & wonder what to do if there were no electricity. So I tried some in my solar oven.
One concern was you need heat to circulate around. And darker things work better in a solar oven. I found some black metal letter holders at Dollar Tree. They are black mesh, just the thing! I used them right side up, but I think they'd be even better upside down, so there's more air underneath. I propped them up on another pan so they were nearer the lid of the oven. I propped the lid open so that the moisture could escape (this is the one solar cooking you don't want the moisture to stay in). I just used a glue bottle to prop it open. The other concern I had was the strawberries sticking. On my dehydrator I use those mesh plastic sheets, so they pop off easy. I found some white plastic sheeting (also at Dollar Tree), but it was white, so I didn't know how it would work. I decided to try both ways.
After about 4 hours, the ones on just the black were done. And they didn't stick! The ones on the white worked as well, but they took a bit longer. In the future I'll probably just use the black mesh.
I'm way excited I found a rack for only $1. Since the strawberries grow in my yard, & I didn't even use electricity, this is a totally free food storage item!
Another thing I recently discovered was a strawberry slicer. I was dubious...most kitchen gadgets don't really work. But this thing is awesome! It is going to save me hours on my drying strawberry time! Rather than slicing each berry by hand I can put 2-5 (if they're smaller ones) in at a time & have them perfectly slice for drying. Some of the best money I've ever spent!


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