What are freeze dried strawberries?

Strawberries before freeze-drying.

Freeze-dried strawberries are strawberries that have been processed in a way that preserves their fresh flavor and extends the shelf life of the berries for years. When strawberries are freeze-dried, almost all of the moisture inside them is removed, leaving a slightly spongy – but mostly crumbly – fruit that can be reconstituted with a liquid, crushed and used in recipes, or eaten in its dried form. One advantage of using freeze-dried strawberries in some recipes is that they can be boiled or blended and retain their shape and most of their original texture without becoming doughy. Additionally, the flavor of freeze-dried strawberries, when not reconstituted, is much more concentrated than normal, allowing them to be used almost like a spice.

Many fruits can be freeze dried and made into a crunchy snack.

The way freeze-dried strawberries are made starts with the freezing process. This involves cleaning and drying the strawberries and putting them in a special machine that freezes them to temperatures as low as -112° Fahrenheit (-80° Celsius) to quickly turn moisture into ice. Once frozen, the strawberries are dried in a chamber in which the air pressure is reduced and a little heat is applied, causing the ice crystals to evaporate without first turning into liquid and moistening the pulp of the berries. The strawberries are reheated to remove any remaining moisture, leaving only the dehydrated fruit mostly intact. The freeze-dried strawberries are then sealed in vacuum-sealed containers to prevent moisture from reaching them as they are shipped to their final destinations.

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A good use for freeze-dried strawberries is in baked goods such as cakes or breads. They are well suited for this type of baking because, when added dry to the dough, the strawberries will slowly rehydrate as the steam from the cake or bread is released during baking. They can also be rolled inside the pastry dough. The end result will be a baked product that contains nearly whole strawberries with a ripe flavor and minimal color bleeding.

Another popular use for freeze-dried strawberries is as a crunchy twist to breakfast cereal. They can also be added to yogurt, oatmeal or fruit drinks. These strawberries can be roughly chopped and used as a topping for cakes or ice cream.

An often overlooked aspect of eating freeze-dried strawberries is that they are deceptively light. Once freeze-dried, the fruits weigh much less than they normally would and it can be easy to use too many in a recipe or eat too many as a snack. Strawberries in this state are almost all carbohydrates, which can be a concern for some people on special diets.

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