Dried Strawberry Candies. A Pinterest Experiment.

 

I would like to take a moment to criticize something I like very much.  Pinterest.  It’s a useful tool that has way better imagery than say … Google images. If I want to take a look at a few examples of rustic modern pergolas, Pinterest is the place I go. If I want to get examples of really great Brooklyn-style flower arrangements – Pinterest.

What I do not go to Pinterest for are recipes. I say this as someone who has many of her own recipes and DIYs on Pinterest.  My Crispy Sweet Potato Fries recipe has been pinned over a million times.  Over. A. Million.  That’s insane.  BUT I’m not a food blogger specifically so I really only publish recipes that I know are fantastic.

Food bloggers on the other hand, have the pressure to publish 3 new recipes a week.  That’s 156 new recipes a year.  They can’t all be lip smacking slam dunks,  but if the pictures are pretty enough they’ll make the rounds on Pinterest until they make their way into some unsuspecting cook’s kitchen and eventually their garbage can.  I’m not blaming food bloggers or judging them. It’s their job to put up content and that’s what they do.

I know I have a lot of content that isn’t exactly award winning. It’s the life of the blogger.  The no-boast post.  They happen.

All of this means that Pinterest is GREAT for images, not always so great for actual content like recipes or instructions.

So it was with much cynicism I took a Pinterest recipe I’ve been eyeing for a few years and made it myself. It’s not even a recipe so much as a technique.  Drying strawberries.  According to Pinterest they taste JUST LIKE TWIZZLERS when they’re dried.

C’mon.

These are the same people who claim cauliflower can be substituted for virtually anything in a recipe.  Need a no carb pizza crust?  Cauliflower!  Mashed potato substitute? Cauliflower! Want low calorie pancakes? Cauliflower! Need chocolate syrup? USE CAULIFLOWER!

If you were to believe Pinterest, cauliflower is basically the only ingredient you need to make a 3 Michelin star meal as long as you own a food processor and really good camera.

 

 

Yet I couldn’t stop thinking about the Pinterest strawberry candies.

So I did what they said. Mainly because I have so many strawberries growing right now that my thighs are looking very much like sponge cake.

I cut the tops off all my strawberries, cut the  bigger strawberries in half, stuck them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and dried them in the oven for 4 hours.  I flipped them after 2 hours.

In the first hour my chickens feasted on the strawberry tops, and my house smelled like strawberry jello.

Things were looking positive.

After what ended up being around 3.5 hours in the oven they seemed done.  So I took a photo.

Because it had just rained, and they looked pretty and who doesn’t want a Pinterest worthy recipe that could be pinned 1,000,000 times?

Also as a blogger it’s my job to take before and after photos.

But were they good or gross?  They were neither.  They 100% did NOT taste like Twizzlers.

I can’t see wanting to eat a big handful of them.  For one thing a quart of strawberries got me around 1/2 a cup of dried berries.

That’s a lot of work and time for a few big handfuls of dried berries.  Also these berries aren’t truly “dried”.  They’re kind of cooked because most ovens don’t go to a low enough temperature to truly dehydrate.  So you couldn’t make these and store them long term. For that you’d need a real dehydrator.

They’d probably be good in scones, oatmeal, pancakes or chocolate bark. But I’m not making any of those things in the immediate future.  At least not until I stock up on cauliflower.

THIS is what dried strawberries look like in a real home in real life.  Pinterest worthy? Nope.  Worth the time and effort (even though the effort is minimal)?  Probably not.

Worth it to get a post that’s a little better than bad post but not quite a boast post?  Absolutely.

Have a good weekend!

 

→Do you follow me on Instagram? This week my chickens dug up my backyard garden, I made an outdoor drinking fountain, and I roasted chicken &  red peppers in my wood burning oven.  Follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss out on all the extra Art of Doing Stuff! ←

 

56 Comments

  1. Raymonde says:

    I cannot believe you don’t own a dehydrator! With all the gardening you do, it would be a whole lot more useful than an Instant Pot! 😉
    If you decide to get one, I highly recommend the Excalibur. I’ve had one for 31 years and it’s still going strong!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Raymonde! I know. If I ever dry things I just hang them, but certain things I just can’t dry because I don’t own a dehydrator. They’re so BIG. I don’t feel like I can justify the space. 🙁 Or even find the space, lol. ~ karen!

      • I hear you on that. My Kitchen Aid is lucky it gets counter space. Really enjoy your blog Karen BTW.

        • Karen says:

          Thanks Lisa! Right back atcha. And if anyone reading these comments is a chicken lover you should ABSOLUTELY follow Lisa. 🙂 She runs the blog Fresh Eggs Daily! ~ karen!

  2. TucsonPatty says:

    I haven’t used my dehydrator since divorce, etc. but I used it lots and lots before then. It came with two solid inserts onto which to pour liquids – pureed strawberries for instance, and then dehydrate into fruit leather. It really did taste yummy, and MIGHT have tasted like Twizzlers if you added sugar and raspberries or cherries, but indeed, it did not. I personally am a Red Vines girl, don’t like those imitations.
    I kept reading trying to figure out how you were going to make a candle out of strawberries! Took a bit before I realized my font was fooling me! That might be interesting, though – a nice scented candle?

    • Susan Claire says:

      Yes! Red Vines! Twizzlers are disgusting!

      • MindyK says:

        I hypothesize it is an East vs West thing. I grew up in California and love Red Vines. I lived in Pennsylvania for many years, where Twizzlers rule (partly because the factory was nearby). Usually people are passionate about the one they grew up eating and really despise the other one. (I think Twizzlers have the texture of candle wax. Not that I eat candles.)

        • Susan Claire says:

          I also grew up in California (still here) and Red Vines ruled (still do). Nothing better than that big old tub of Red Vines from Costco!
          And yes, Twizzlers have the consistency of candle wax. They turn into a gummy mess when you chew them-ick!

    • Jody says:

      I grew up with Twizzlers. Red Vines are better.

    • SarahW says:

      I too thought it was about strawberry candles!!! Then when I started reading about Twizzlers I wondered how she was going to transition from licorice to candles (I knew she could do it but boy was it going to be interesting!) And I was really stumped as to why she would waste strawberries for candles – but I trusted it would be for a good cause!

      Glad I wasn’t the only one whose font was messing with me!

  3. Judy says:

    Karen, you are fabulous & so is your blog. You teach me how to do things or make me laugh with your dry humor & honesty. Thank you soooo much!

  4. Jamieson Cochrane says:

    Too funny: I clicked your “ask me anything” button asking if you had a freeze dried strawberry recipe maybe 8 years ago. Rather than just text you lol. Sorta like how I’m typing this right now instead of texting. Thanks for the recipe! 😉

  5. Jen says:

    Thanks, Karen. I’d wondered about that ‘recipe’. Since I don’t grow strawberries and the local strawbs cost $5.00/quart, I think I will savour them au naturel– mmmmmaybe with a lovely huge dollop of whipped cream! (I do grow and oven-dry and love cherry tomatoes, tho!)

    • Tina says:

      There’s been a girl down the road selling strawberries out of a pick-up truck. I got a generous quart for $1 US. The thing is, I bit into one and said foul words! These strawberries taste like “real strawberries”, like we grew on the farm. They’re SO good! So I think I’ll have to see if she’s there tomorrow and buy a LOT more!

  6. Absolutely agree! I tried this recipe thinking it looked really good but felt it was too good to be true. Yep…too good to be true. I didn’t feel my return was worth it at all. They didn’t even taste yummy to me even though I followed the recipe to the exact words. And I love strawberries (my hens also like the tops lol)! Thank you for your honesty! I loved the part where everything is “cauliflower”…uh huh. I know what this recipe was missing…KALE! haha

  7. Allison Cooper says:

    DEHYDRATED strawberries taste like a morsel of summer added to salads , especially in the winter. Or just to snack on. They are very easy to make, IF you have a dehydrator, and they store well in mason jars. So if you have a glut of strawberries Karen, I would hustle your sponge cake thighs right on down to Home Hardware and get an inexpensive dehydrator!
    You will use it for more than strawberries 🍓, I promise you!

    • Karen says:

      My problem is if I do something, I DO IT. So I can see right now, if I get a dehydrator it would be the biggest, most professional dehydrator in the land, lol. At least I know I really would use it but still … I’m sure I’d do fine with the Home Hardware version. I know I would. And yet … ~ karen!

      • MartiJ says:

        I bought my dehydrator on Craigslist.com.
        I tried that same recipe.
        I’m here to tell you that a) yes, I do love my dehydrator (in my very tiny apartment [jerky, Karen. Homemade jerky.]) but b) that recipe is lame.
        Mine aren’t any better or prettier than yours and to me, they aren’t “a morsel of summer.” They are just something that sucked up some time and a lot of money (pricey buggers because I can’t grow strawberries in my stairwell) and were ok… but I’d rather swing past the salad bar in the grocery and have UNdried out strawberries at $7 / pound to slip a few in my salad.

  8. Laurie says:

    I read the article title wrong and was expecting to see you mold a candle and then embed dried strawberries onto the outside of it and then re-dip.
    So there’s an idea for what to do with your product 🙂 I’m sure it would make some great Pinterest photos and then you could burn the evidence!

  9. Shawna says:

    When are you making candles??? (Guess I read that font wrong too.) I want candles!!!

    My complaint about Pinterest is all of the irrelevant content and ads they’ve added. Sad that they had to ruin a good thing.

  10. martha says:

    Last year I had a glut of raspberries! I made jam, sauce, and anything else I could can – until I ran out of jars. My freezer was packed full. So I dehydrated some. Raspberries are covered in little hairs. So I have a gallon bag of little pink fur balls. Maybe they taste good, but I can’t get past the fuzz. This year I’m going to try fruit leather!

  11. Sandra Lea says:

    You can tell by looking at them that your strawberries were not dried enough. I recommend a dehydrator but you absolutely can do this properly in an oven. You just need to allow enough time. I’m making some this evening but will be using a dehydrator.

    • Karen says:

      But that’s not what the Pinterest “Pin” is. It says “pop them in the oven for a few hours and VOILA!” I wanted to try that exact method to see if it really would work. It did not. Not great anyway. ~ karen!

  12. Susan says:

    Maybe I was the first one with your sweet potato recipe on Pinterest. I put it up not long after you posted it so I wouldn’t forget where it was. And then I forgot where it was.
    Don’t knock the stupid riced cauliflower. Gluten free bread is full of the fattening stuff it needs to make it palatable so I limit myself to 2 slices a day. But sometimes you just get an overwhelming carb craving in the afternoon so I keep a few bags of riced cauliflower in the freezer. The “bread” made with coconut flour, parmesan cheese and garlic kills the craving and tastes really good. Unfortunately I undo the good of not eating carbs by eating the whole thing.

  13. judy says:

    Karen; you have an ad for a blow torch on my screen(probably because I searched for one) but could anyone give me info re: using this on a gravel driveway to kill the weeds. Just got a letter from HOA that driveway weeds are punishable by a week in the neighborhood stocks with fellow residents throwing rotten tomatoes.
    I haven’t used the usual poisons because we live a few steps from our reservoir. My fear is that heating up the stones could get me hot rocks in my head? Input welcome and thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Judy! Just spray them with vinegar, but get cleaning vinegar if you can. It’s even stronger than regular vinegar. Spray them in the morning on a sunny day (the sun helps kill the weeds in combination with the vinegar). Leave them to dry out and then just pull the dead leaves away. You may need to do it a couple of times to completely kill the weed. Boiling water works as well. ~ karen!

    • Susan says:

      A gallon of vinegar, cup of salt and tablespoon of dish soap – spray on when it’s sunny.

    • Shawna says:

      Judy, I have often used a small butane torch for spot killing weeds and it works great! I use a Blazer ES-1000 Micro torch I’ve had for years. It’s small, easy to use, refillable with a bottle of butane from a smoke shop. Wear protective eye wear with any bright flames and be careful what you point it at! Only takes a couple seconds to flame on the weeds, so no worries about hot rocks, really. Remember you don’t have to burn the whole weed down, just point it at the base of the stalk and that will kill it. You can gather up the tops by hand.

      Works great for finishing off my creme brulee too!

  14. Maureen Locke says:

    I’ve always wanted to try strawberries in my dehydrator. Now I’m not sure. I make jerky for my dog and when I have too much for my dehydrator, I use the oven. If you lower your oven to the lowest and stick a wooden spoon handle in the door to lower the temp even more, it works well. I actually prefer the texture and flavour of the oven ones. I think if I did try the strawberries though, I’d slice them. We’ll see… I’m not feeling it right now. lol And cauliflower is only good as cauliflower and I do like cauliflower fried rice. Nothing else. blech

  15. Barb says:

    Thanks for the honest critique. It bothers me to see a “so delicious…best ever” recipe on FB that people pass on but never try. After a few of these recipes made it from our table to the garbage can, I’ve (pretty much) learned my lesson. I won’t pass these along unless I can add my own critique after actually trying them.

    • Karen says:

      That’s my general complaint in life Barb! Everyone says “I’ve heard that …”, or “I read once you can …”. Reading it or hearing it doesn’t make it true. I want evidence and a personal account! ~ karen

  16. Kate C says:

    THIS is definitely a BOAST POST. Laugh out loud post. But man, those dried strawberries are unfortunate looking little things! I’d say stick with hydrated strawberries, and real candies. Hey, when are you making real candies??? Can’t wait.

    • Karen says:

      🙂 Years ago I said I was going to figure out how to make candied ginger (since that’s generally the only candy I normally have in my house). Maybe I’ll look into that again, even though I’m sure no one would consider it a “true candy”, lol. ~ karen!

      • Julia McDonald-Smith says:

        I’ve made the cooks illustrated version from their DIY cookbook and it turned it awesome.

      • Christina Biles says:

        Hand made candied ginger and citrus peels are awesome! Sometimes I dip them in chocolate, sometimes I add them to pumpkin bread or banana bread alongside chopped dried apricots and raisins. If you don’t have another use planned out, pop your strawberries into banana bread. mmmmmm

        Oh, and I too suggest a dehydrator. I just dried a bunch of my surplus cherry tomatoes and covered them with olive oil. Fabulous in pasta in the dead of winter, and the tomato scented olive oil is killer in a salad dressing or sopped up with a hunk of bread. I used to oven roast my cherries, but this heats up the house much less in summer. (You live in Canada, so that may be less of an issue than Texas summer.)

  17. Eileen says:

    When I have a glut of cherry tomatoes or figs, I cut them in half and lay them on one of those expanding removable window-screen things. Then I put that in the back of my hatchback on a sunny day. I prop the screen up on a couple pieces of wood and put some plastic underneath in case of drips. Depending on the thickness and the humidity levels, they dry in a day or a day plus (I bring them in overnight, not wanting to tempt any critters). I keep the dried stuff in the freezer, just in case.

  18. Melissa says:

    I love that you save me the time of pin failing on my own ^_^

  19. Allison Cooper says:

    Hi here is my dehydrator going incognito as a decoration. I sewed a dust cover and store it high up on top of my kitchen cabinets.

  20. Allison Cooper says:

    And here it is undressed!

  21. Rose says:

    What if you coated the cut strawberries in sugar before drying? That would make them more like candy. Also put a rack under the parchment or put the parchment directly on the oven rack for better circulation. But I would use my cheapo dehydrator (under $20) that we’ve been using for years to dry our figs and lots of other things.

  22. Mary W says:

    I save the ‘berries’ in a cereal and berry dry cereal. The cereal tastes fine when I need a late night snack with milk. The berries taste like strawberries and look like them, but in Florida I’ve never opened a box and eaten one that wasn’t more like leather – maybe that is what they are suppose to be. Anyway, I prefer the taste of the cereal to taste like cereal and I save the ‘berries’ for the grands in a plastic snack bag. When they are toddlers, they ate them, now, not so much. So I have a bag of them, about 23 tiny hog plums and wanted to make plum jelly. I’ve made it before when I had plenty of plums but a late frost got mine again this year. So, I cut the ‘berries’ into tiny pieces and cooked them with the plums and sugar – according to Pinterest the sugar was all I needed to get it to jell as long as I had some unripe hog plums in the mix. Well, the ‘berries’ added nothing to the taste (evidently cooking destroys the additive that was used to make them tastes like strawberries) and I now have two pints of kinda thickened plum syrup. Great on pancakes! I’m not buying berry cereal anymore, either. I also deeply admire the small, red berries you have which I know must be delicious. The humongous ones in the stores are nasty and don’t even taste sweet. They seem to rot from the inside so that they can have a longer shelf life (money again) and they are not good to eat anymore.

    • judy says:

      Couldn’t agree more about the instantaneous rot. I stopped buying them cause I swear I dump them out onto the counter to find any bad ones and the whole bottom has a”cotton rot?” on them so the whole thing went in the trash. Waste of money and big disappointment.

  23. Jody says:

    “Instead of mashed potatoes, mash cauliflower! They’ll never know the difference!” Except that it tastes like CAULIFLOWER, not potatoes and makes everybody burp. Nope

  24. Robyn says:

    I use this technique every summer when I end up with an abundance of grape tomatoes. I cut them in half, sprinkle with salt and pepper and sometimes a bit of olive oil but not always. They are wonderful sprinkled on mac&cheese or a pizza. It is amazing how a big bowl of tomatoes shrinks down to a handful just like the berries did. Thanks for strawberry trial and saving me from another pintrest fail.

  25. Cody says:

    How is your stove/new kitchen stuff holding up!
    I show people your stove and fridge probably too much to appear sane…

    • Karen says:

      Don’t be ridiculous. NOT showing my stove and fridge to a multitude of people over and over again would seem insane. Not the opposite. I still just stand in my kitchen and look at them with my mouth open and eyes wide. ‘Specially the fridge. ~ karen!

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