Dehydrated Blueberries – WHY?

August 24th, 2009 / Comments 6

Some days, nothing works. This is a perfectly normal watercolor painting of a basket of blueberries. When I painted it, and when I scanned it, the basket was shades of yellow and brown and the berries were BLUE. Somehow the upload went wrong, a promise of things to come.

blueberry+basket+ Dehydrated Blueberries – WHY?

It’s a great summer for blueberries. I have fresh blueberries in a bowl in the refrigerator, blueberry muffins on the counter, and bags of berries in the freezer. I thought that I had harvested my share until I saw a friend at a community picnic. She announced the she had picked thirty-two pounds – I had only picked six pounds. Not only had she picked more than me, she had made a blueberry pie, canned blueberry sauce and dehydrated blueberries. I don’t think of myself as competitive in the kitchen, but, if she can dehydrate blueberries why can’t I? To raise the ante, I would do it without a food dehydrator.

My new oven has a dehydrate option and I would create drying screens from my favorite kitchen supply store, the hardware store. I decided on aluminum screening and was delighted when the woman cutting the screen complimented me on my first column in the Food Section of the Valley News.

A video on You Tube, recommended by my blueberry friend, warned of disaster if one began to dehydrate before performing a “few” preliminary steps. First, a quick soak in boiling water to soften the skin, then a quick chill to stop the berries from cooking, followed by carefully arranging, but not squishing, the now very soft berries in one layer, while making sure that the berries did not touch.

You may not believe what comes next but I promise it is the truth. Each berry must be pierced to create a hole for the moisture to escape. The dehydration pro warned that omission of this step would result in the creation of what looked like miniature Portuguese Man-o-War, (miniature jellyfish might make an interesting addition to a buffet), and then finally, into the oven to dry.

dried+blueberry+2 Dehydrated Blueberries – WHY?

It would be fun, perhaps a bit tedious, but I wanted to have dried blueberries in my pantry too.

I followed the instructions, pierced every berry, and with the oven on dehydrate and the temperature set at 140 degrees. I watched and waited, four hours, six hours, eight hours, at twelve hours, it was the middle of the night and the oven timer woke me up. When I checked in the morning, the berries were still very soft and juicy.

After fourteen more hours in the oven there still wasn’t much progress. I turned the oven off before I went to bed so that the timer wouldn’t wake me.

dried+blueberries Dehydrated Blueberries – WHY?

Day three, I turned on the oven and after six more hours, I acknowledged defeat. Three quarters of the blueberries were still soft and juicy and one quarter had passed the perfect, raisin like state, and gone on to the cinder state. Ninety eight percent of the berries were stuck to the screen. Two percent were perfect.

I put as many berries as I could scrape from the screen into a jar and put the jar into the freezer. I soaked the screens, swept the floor (scraping is an inexact process) and left the kitchen wondering, “Dehydrated blueberries, why?”

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