Strawberry season is here. Take advantage of the bounty and preserve for winter with this step by step guide on how to freeze strawberries!
I love seasonal eating. For me, it goes something like this… .
As winter comes to an end, I start to terribly miss fresh local foods. In my case, it starts with strawberries.
But then, when June arrives, the early local berries begin to appear, starting at farmers markets. Rejoice!
Soon after, my CSA farmer offers me eight-pound cases. I buy two. The next week, I buy two more. We eat strawberries and cream, strawberry stuffed French toast. I can jam and make Strawberry Rhubarb shrubs. And just when I can’t clean another berry, I feel done with eating them–and the harvest ends.
Repeat next year.
And while I truly love eating local, well, winter without any berries would be Just. Too. Boring. So how do I avoid giving up all my principles and relying on imports?
The answer? Freeze strawberries. That’s right, winter may seem far away at the moment, but strawberry season is fleeting. Seize the day!
My favorite way to do this is individually frozen, easily done at home. This gives you the most flexibility for future use. Pour out a few for a smoothie or a lot for a whipped strawberry pie. And you can sweeten a little or a lot according to taste or different recipes.
Here’s what I recommend:
How to Freeze Strawberries
Sort through berries for bruised or damaged ones, then trim and eat those yourself. For the remainder, remove the stems. Take the stem off in a single knife stroke. It’s so much faster than making the classic round circle around each berry stem and pulling out the “core.” Remember, 8+ quarts!
Rinse berries and let drain in a strainer or on a towel. This will help you avoid little frozen water puddles around your berries later.
Line the berries up individually, not touching, on a rimmed baking sheet. I usually line the sheet with an an old dish towel (you will get berry stains) to absorb any excess water or wax paper to make removal easier.
When the tray is full, set in the freezer until the berries get hard on the outside (usually a couple hours). Then gently loosen them and move to a freezer container. We like old plastic ice cream buckets for this but anything with a good seal will work.
I store in a zero-degree, manual defrost (not frost free) freezer. According to theKitchn “The frost-free freezers eliminate frost by raising the temperature inside the freezer a few times a day, from about 0 degrees to 32 degrees. It saves you the hassle of frost in your fridge, but can actually cause more freezer burn, as your food temperatures are fluctuating slightly and that makes it easier for moisture inside your food to escape.”
But if you only have a frost-free freezer, you can still freeze berries. Just be extra careful sealing them and try to use them up more quickly.
Other Preserving Tips
Sources recommend using up frozen strawberries in anywhere from 6 months to a year. This will be dependent on the quality of the seal, freezer type, etc. I usually use up the last of the prior year’s berries right before the new harvest and find the quality still good after a year.
It is (usually) possible to can using frozen fruits and vegetables instead of fresh. Except for a few items like pickles, canning generally doesn’t rely on the crispness of your produce. This means that if you are short on time for canning, you may be able to freeze strawberries today, then make your jam later.
If you can get a local case at a discount, or at a pick your own farm, it can help save money. I’ve even had friends who grow their own—on my bucket list!
Finally don’t forget about other methods of preserving as the season moves forward. While strawberries aren’t your best candidate for canning whole or preserving in alcohol, peach season is coming!
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