Dried fruits are just a really nice thing to have on hand– they keep for a long time, are nutrient-rich, and can be added to a ton of recipes or snacks to add energy and flavor. Personally, I love having them as a snack alternative for my sweet tooth. (I’m a dessert monster, and it’s a habit I just can’t break.)
During deployment, I sent dried fruits of all kinds– pineapples, cranberries, raisins, mango, you name it– to John in care packages.
Until this week, though, I’ve never tried drying fruit on my own because we don’t have a dehydrator.
I thought I’d start oven drying with a small project– literally, small blueberries!
After a lot of internet research, double- and triple-checking, I played around and found the easiest way to dry blueberries– with 0 calories, no cholesterol or added sugar. And there’s very minimal work needed.
- large bowl or strainer/collander
- fresh blueberries (about a cup for every cookie sheet)
- cookie sheet(s) or large, shallow metal pan
- parchment paper
- air-tight container
- Rinse blueberries, drain, and let air dry (or pat dry with a paper towel.)
- Spread blueberries on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
- Bake blueberries in oven for 3 hours at 225 degrees.
- Remove and cool berries before placing in an airtight container.
Other ideas for use…
- Purchase a large quantity of blueberries when they’re on sale, dry them, and freeze them in freezer bags. (Yay for saving money and staying healthy!)
- Dry blueberries and then freeze in portions– only pull out of the freezer when you need more.
- Use dried blueberries in place of or in addition to raisins in recipes (like oatmeal cookies).
- Stir in dried blueberries to yogurt, oatmeal, and cereal.
- Immediately portion into single-serving bags or containers to easily throw into lunches or nosh on for a snack.
Unfrozen and at room temperature, the dried blueberries should last about a month. (But you’ll definitely have eaten them all before then!)
Tried and true granola recipes for dried blueberries
Now that you have all of these lovely dried berries, it’s time to use them and effortlessly add anti-oxidants and Vitamin C to your diet. There are so many ways– muffins, pies, pancakes, thrown into some cereal… it doesn’t have to be fancy! But if you’re looking for some tasty new recipes, I’ve got a few to share.
There are a few absolutely delicious granola recipes that I go back to time and time again. One reason? John loves them. (And he’s a granola connoisseur!) The other reason? They are pretty easy to throw together and use ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry. And if you don’t, they’re easy to get. No whacky ingredients that you have to visit a health foods store three states away to find.
Blueberry Super Granola
The first is Blueberry Super Granola. This tasty granola is a loose mixture– so you can add it to yogurt or make it your cereal and add milk. (Although, I’m not above a few handfuls straight from the jar myself.) It also uses chia seeds along with other seeds, flax meal, and, of course, lots and lots of dried blueberries. It’s also sweetened with a little bit of honey and has a lovely texture that is perfect any time of day.
You can always modify this recipe for your tastes– add some dried cherries or raisins for a more multi-layered flavor profile, toss in almonds or other tree nuts or peanuts, or lose the chia seeds if you don’t want a lot of protein in your granola.
These breakfast cookies were a staple of care packages for John while he was deployed. They use quinoa as well as a lot of other whole grains, seeds, and other healthy ingredients to create a delicious on-the-go breakfast item. Swap out the raisins for your dried blueberries, halve the recommended raisins and add dried blueberries, or add nuts (like walnuts) for a twist.
Homemade Granola Bars
There’s no other recipe John asks for more than my homemade granola bars. Similar to the breakfast cookies, these are shelf stable and very shippable. Add a few handfuls of dried blueberries to the mix for a little infusion of dried fruit. And bonus– make these granola bars and the blueberry super granola at the same time. They both use ground flax seed; that way, you’re not just leaving it in your pantry until it goes bad.
Are dried blueberries safe for care packages?
I’d caution you against sending these in a care package since they are homemade and have no preservatives at all. The last thing you want to do is send unsafe food to someone. Don’t take the risk– only use these blueberries when you know you can consume them in a timely fashion and are not exposing them to extremes (like extreme humidity or heat– something you can’t control in a care package).
- 5 easy changes to make to your lifestyle
- Homemade Granola Bars for Care Packages
- Blueberry Super Granola