Blueberries can be really good when dehydrated but you have to do it right. Depending on how you pre-treat them before drying can have a major impact on the finished dried blueberry. This article will guide you through the process of dehydrating blueberries so they come out perfectly every time.
Drying fresh blueberries makes them really useful, they can be added to baking recipes, rehydrated, added to porridge or muesli, or for snacking on just as they are.
When it comes to sourcing blueberries to dehydrate you want to select ripe but still firm berries. If the blueberries are soft or mushy they will not be ideal for drying.
I use a dehydrator as they are so simple to use but don’t worry if you don’t have one you can use a fan oven and get similar results.
Preparing Blueberries For Drying
As blueberries are small they do not need any slicing or peeling (although they do need checking, more on that in a moment).
You just need to make sure the blueberries are clean and dried, any soft or bad fruit is removed and then you can get ready for dehydrating them.
Do You Need To Blanch Blueberries Before Drying?
Unlike some other fruits, blueberries can benefit from being pre-treated before drying. Blueberries have waxy skins that can prevent even drying, the skins need to be checked which basically means broken or split open so moisture can escape whilst drying.
This may sound laborious but there are several options for checking the skins of the blueberries and some are really simple and require no effort at all so let’s take a look.
Pre-treating And Checking Blueberries Before Dehydrating
The options for pretreating and checking the blueberries before drying are as follows:
- Sugar Syrup Blanching
- Water Blanching
Freezing: Perhaps the simplest method to check the skins of blueberries before drying is to freeze them. This is an ideal method if you have a lot of blueberries to dehydrate. Simply place the cleaned and sorted blueberries on a tray in a single layer and freeze overnight. Once frozen solid you can dehydrate the berries from frozen right away or store the blueberries in an airtight container in the freezer until you are ready to dry them
Slicing: Cutting the berries in half will open up the inside and allow moisture to escape easily. This is a simple method if you don’t mind dried blueberry halves rather than whole berries, although laborious if you have a lot of berries to dry.
Syrup blanching: Simmering the blueberries in sugar syrup is my favorite method of pretreating and will also check the skins of the blueberries at the same time. A 2:1 syrup consisting of 2 parts water to 1 part sugar is heated to a simmer. The blueberries are then added for a total of 2 minutes before being removed and rinsed under cold water. The blueberries can then be arranged on racks and dried.
Water blanching: This is not one of my recommended methods as unlike sugar blanching the blueberries tend to go soft and mushy rather than firm. Water blanching will check the skins but be sure to use lots of water as you add blueberries will drop the temperature. Blanch for 30 seconds and then immediately cool in ice water. The berries can then be dried.
Drying Blueberries In A Dehydrator
A dehydrator is a fast and more efficient way to dry blueberries. Food dehydrators are quite inexpensive if you use them regularly and even a budget version is well worth the investment.
As most dehydrators consist of lots of racks in a stack you can fit quite a lot of fruit in them, especially something like blueberries which are small and you can fit a lot on just one rack.
Using a dehydrator simply means you load the pretreated and checked blueberries onto the racks in an even layer with space between for airflow. Set the dehydrator at a low to medium setting and dry until just done.
How Long Does It Take To Dry Blueberries In A Dehydrator?
Blueberries that have been halved will take around 6 – 8 hours to completely dry.
Syrup blanched blueberries will take longer and can take anywhere from 12 – 18 hours to fully dry. Trust me the results are well worth it.
Dehydrating Blueberries In An Oven
If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use a regular oven to dry fruit instead. Although it is not as efficient you can still get great results drying fruit in the oven.
For best results, you will want to invest in some extra oven racks so you can get the maximum amount of blueberries drying at the same time.
It is also recommended to use a fan or convection oven as the airflow is really important for dehydrating fruit.
Racks rather than trays allow air to circulate around the blueberries and this dries rather than cooks them.
Arrange the pretreated and checked blueberries on racks and arrange them in the oven set at the lowest temperature. Around 55-60C is perfect for drying blueberries.
How Long Will It Take To Dehydrate Blueberries In An Oven?
Depending on the airflow and temperature of your oven drying blueberries completely will take between 7 hours and 18 hours.
The Best Temperature To Dehydrate Blueberries
Whether you are drying your fruit in a dehydrator or an oven the ideal temperature to dry blueberries will be around 50 – 60 C.
Along with the temperature, airflow is really important for evenly drying fruit. With dehydrators this is all set for you, domestic ovens will need your racks rotating every few hours to encourage even drying.
How Long Will Dehydrated Blueberries Last?
Once fully dried and cool, store the blueberries in an airtight container in a cool, dark draw or cupboard. Dried blueberries will usually keep for many months and up to a year if kept away from moisture.
Dehydrating Blueberries In An Oven Or Dehydrator
A great addition to the pantry. Dehydrated blueberries are great for baking or adding to cereals just like raisins. Sugar blanching and drying blueberries result in a sweet soft texture just like candy
- 1kg Blueberries
- 1 litre sugar syrup (optional)
- Sort the blueberries removing and mushy or spoiled fruit and give all the berries a good rinse under cold water before patting dry.
- Check the blueberries (break the skins) using one of the following methods:
Checking The Blueberries
- Freeze the blueberries in an even layer on a tray overnight. Dry from frozen.
- Slice the berries in half.
- Sugar blanch the blueberries in a sugar syrup made from 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. Simmer for 30 seconds before rinsing under cold running water.
How Do You Dry Blueberries In A Dehydrator?
- Arrange the checked blueberries on the dehydrator racks with plenty of space between them to allow even airflow.
- The racks can then be arranged in the dehydrator ready to start drying.
- A dehydrator set at around 50C / 120F will take around 8 - 15 hours to dehydrate fully.
How To Dehydrate in the Oven
- You will need a few racks to arrange the blueberries on allowing room for warm air to circulate around the fruit.
- Set your oven to its lowest temperature preferably with the fan on. If you don't have a fan oven prop the door open to allow air circulation.
- The berries will take between 6 - 15 hours to fully dry depending on the oven temperatures. Rotate racks every hour or so to ensure even drying.