Hip, hip hooray– strawberry season has arrived in New York’s Hudson Valley. I picked up 7 1/2 pounds of perfectly ripe, locally grown berries the other day, and promptly set about freezing them. The following preservation technique has never failed me:
How to Freeze Strawberries: The Video
Click the “play” arrow above to watch the video. You’ll hear some pleasant birdsong in the video, as I filmed it in my herb garden. If you can’t watch videos (or me!), then simply read on for the photographic directions.
First, grab some perfectly ripe, locally-grown strawberries. Berries that have traveled 3,000 miles in a refrigerated truck are not worth freezing. Long distance berries are flavorless berries.
With a dorky smile on your face, plunge the berries into a clean tub of cold water. Swish the berries around with your (immaculately-clean) hands, and then let them sit for a minute or five. During this time, any dirt on the berries will sink to the bottom.
A handful at a time, fish out the berries and arrange them in a single layer on a clean terry towel. (Hint: use a big bath towel if you are working with a big batch o’ berries.)
Gently blot the berries to dry them.
Then “hull” the berries. That is, use a paring knife (or a special hulling gadget) to cut around and remove the stem. This job will be slightly less odious if performed in the early evening, when birds are singing and crickets are chirping. Well, you’ll have to watch the video up top.
To freeze whole strawberries, just arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. When solidly frozen, transfer to tubs or zip-lock bags, and freeze. Otherwise, slice the berries just as I did here, and place them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Not enough room in your freezer for multiple baking sheets? I have a tip for you! Place another sheet of parchment on top of the first layer of berries. Arrange more sliced berries on this second sheet.
For the video howto, I arranged three layers of berries on a single baking sheet.
And then, when the camera was turned off, I added two more layers of berries! Once the berries were solidly frozen (I left them to freeze overnight), I proudly displayed all five layers.
Grab one sheet of frozen berries, and bang it down a few times to loosen the frozen fruit. Then use the sheet as a funnel to neatly deposit the berries into a bag or tub. Bang and bag the remaining berries.
Oh. To avoid bumpy penmanship, label the bags before you fill them. If your freezer resembles an arctic garage sale, then by all means include the year you bagged the fruit. Frozen berries will remain delicious for at least 9 months. Just don’t let the berries thaw and refreeze, or they will turn mushy.
There are myriad ways to use frozen strawberries. Here are just a few suggestions:
Strawberry Jam Twist Bread (click here for the recipe). I always fill the cracks and crevices of this too-delicious dessert with frozen, sliced strawberries.
Strawberry Soufflé (click here for the recipe). This puffed-up, gluten-free magic is very easy to make — especially if you have strawberries in your freezer!
Strawberry Turnovers (click here for recipe). For these easy-peasy puff pastry treats, feel free to substitute frozen berries for fresh.
Well. I hope you’ll get yourself some local strawberries this month, and freeze at least some of them for winter. This way, you can enjoy the taste of June in January and February!