2021 Veggie gardens

Could you elaborate on the balancing and freeze drying?
I tried blueberries in my dehydrator but without a lot of pricking of each berry with a needle it wasn’t very productive!

The right 2021 thread now,

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Elsieb, the pretreatment for dehydrating or freeze drying blueberries is the same: remove any stems, wash and drain. Using a large sieve, spider, etc. dip the berries in boiling water for 1-2 minutes until the skins are cracked. Depending on the berry size and ambient humidity, dehydrating at 100 degrees F (38 C) takes about 10-24 hours.

For most dehydrators, you’ll want something under the berries to catch any juice runoff. Aluminum foil comes in handy as a bottom “tray” in my cube-shaped dehydrator. A small weight may be needed, depending on fan speed and direction.

This information originally came from The Dehydrator Cookbook, by Joanna White, and was slightly modified, based on experience.

I haven’t tried it, but have wondered if freezing the berries first might crack the skins; it might be even messier! It might not be as consistent, either.

The Harvestright freeze drier has computer-controlled cycles, which go through: a deep freeze>vacuum while frozen> slight warming of the food trays to cause water to sublime out of the food. The water/ice in the food does not melt into water under a high vacuum. Instead the water/ice in the food goes directly into a vapor/gas state and forms a solid ice on the walls of the freeze dry chamber, which are colder than the food trays.

Unlike dehydrating, freeze dried foods generally keep their shape and rehydrate faster. In some cases, like mushrooms, one is better off using a dehydrator, as the food tastes better and the texture is better. In fact, most folks in China prefer dried shiitake (Xiang gu) because they develop more umami flavor as they dry. Personally, I like both fresh and dried, but there are recipes where dried work better, like mushroom soups.

Freeze dried tomatoes are also not appealing at all; better dehydrated, which also boosts their umami. Freeze dried tomatoes turn to a fresh-tasting mush, so it’s best to powder them, sift out seeds and skins and use them for flavoring or cooking.

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Thank you for all that info. You are such a generous source, much appreciated.

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You’re most welcome. Knowledge unshared dies, and while it is present, loses most of its value.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold