The other day, I found myself moseying around a farmers’ market just when the vendors started packing up their tents. There wasn’t much left to see or buy. It was a warm and humid day and the fruits and vegetables that were still there looked like nothing short of a set of defibrillators would bring them back to life.
However, showing up late at the market isn’t always a bad thing. Case in point, a kind gentleman signaled me to approach his stall and next thing I knew I had in my hand four pints of fraises des bois (Alpine or wild strawberries) which, though no longer looked just-picked, were still firm, vivid red, bruise-free, and delicious. I was only asked to pay the amount of money that would have gotten me only one pint 3-4 hours earlier. That was a little more fruits than I was prepared to take home. But who can say no to fraises des bois? I mean, look at them.
Fraises des bois, as is the case with most fruits, are best eaten fresh out of hand. However, since the ones I had (after half a day in the hot sun at the market and another 4 hours in my car) looked like they were pining for the fjords on their way to becoming ex-strawberries, a more radical approach seemed appropriate. I washed the little things and dried them thoroughly with a kitchen towel.
Then I dehydrated them in a very low oven (100°F) for 6-7 hours. (If you have a dehydrator, by all means, use it.) I could have baked the strawberries along with the grains, but thought more nutrients would be retained if the fruit was dried at low heat. This is also the very reason I added the almonds in the raw state after the granola had been baked.
The results were just spectacular. The strawberries dried up very nicely. They retained their color and cuteness. Best of all, the flavor became more concentrated. If you’re a fan of dried strawberries, dried fraises des bois will knock your socks off.
Granola with Raw Almonds and Dried Fraises des Bois
(Makes approximately 6 cups)
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups wheat germ of oat bran
3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
Dehydrated fraises des bois made from 4 pints of fresh strawberries