Using a Food Dehydrator
Gooseberries selected for drying should be fully ripe. Not over ripe and not under ripe. Remove any berries that have signs of damage or are malformed, you can use them fresh – but for drying you should have only the best unblemished ripe berries.
The Dehydrating process for gooseberries is relatively simple whether you are using a food dehydrator or an oven. You can also sun – dry them but you’ll need the cooperation of Mother Nature.
Once you’ve selected the finest berries for drying rinse them thoroughly under cool running water. Remove the stems and and take a small nip off the opposite end as well.
Drain the gooseberries completely, then lay them out in a single layer on the dehydrator tray. Avoid them coming into contact with one another. Set the dehydrator on 160 F.
It will take up to 3 hours to dry them at this temperature, but the end result should produce a uniformly dry gooseberry suitable for baking, trail mix or even eaten just as they are.
While they are drying check on them periodically. If you have smaller than average berries, they may dry quicker. If your berries are juicier than average it may take a tad longer. Completely dry berries should be something like a small prune – leathery but pliable and uniformly dry.
Keep them in the dehydrator until the gooseberries and machine have cooled off, then place them in an airtight container or zip lock bag. Labeling them with the date is also advisable if you plan on storing them for any length of time.
Oven Drying Gooseberries
The kitchen Oven can also serve as dehydrator, using the same process as above. An oven however does not always supply the same uniform heat as a dehydrator so it is advisable that you set it on a slightly lower heat setting. Instead of 160 F – try using 140 – 150 F and expect it to take slightly longer.
Sun Drying Gooseberries
1.} 1. Sort the berries, the same as you would for using a dehydrator. Discard any that are under or over ripe, discard any that have any signs of decay, fungus or mold. You also want to somewhat sort by size, larger gooseberries will take longer to dry, small, but otherwise healthy berries should be separated and dried separately.
2. Rinse and dry the berries. Be sure that any excess water is gone. Larger berries should cut in half to ensure adequate and equal drying.
3. Place your baking pan in an area where it will get full sunlight and good air circulation.
4. Lay your berries on cheesecloth or drying tray, as uniformly and flatly as possible, the berries should not be touching one another. Do not use aluminum foil, this will react with the berries natural acids and create an undesirable effect.
5. Drying may take several days under optimal conditions. Under poor weather conditions, naturally expect it to take longer.
During the drying process you’ll need to exercise some common sense, such as covering the berries, or taking them indoors should it rain.
After the berries are dried, transfer them to your mouth or a zip top storage bag. They store well, place them in the pantry or they can also be frozen.
Pests shouldn’t be a problem, but children could be. My kids, with some help from the neighbor kids once devoured about 10 lbs of blueberries I was drying. Worst part is there is no pesticide to ward off kids.