Homegrown strawberries make a fleeting appearance every spring, and that is the very definition of short but sweet. Knowing how to extend that blissful strawberry pleasure is definitely useful. Next to homemade strawberry jam, freezing strawberries is the best way to preserve their flavor and juiciness. You want to make sure that the berries don't clump together but remain loose so that you can easily take out just the amount you want.
For best results, choose strawberries when they are at their sweetest and most aromatic, which usually means finding locally grown berries during their brief peak season. In most strawberry-growing regions, peak strawberry season is from mid-spring through early summer. If you have out-of-season fruit that is only so-so, freezing will not improve its taste, but the frozen fruit will be just as good for sauces and other recipes when you do thaw it.
How to Freeze Strawberries
- Wash the strawberries and let them drain for a few minutes in a colander. Slice off the green tops and hull the strawberries so you preserve as much of the fruit as possible. Leave very small strawberries whole and cut larger berries into halves or quarters.
- Spread the cleaned, whole or sliced strawberries in a single layer on a baking sheet or on plates. Place the fruit in the freezer, uncovered, for two hours. This step is what ensures that the berries will remain separate once they are frozen.
- Transfer the frozen berries to freezer bags or containers. Label and date the bags or containers.
You can store strawberries in the freezer for up to six months. They are still safe to eat after that, but their quality starts to deteriorate.
Ways to Use Frozen Strawberries
These delicious berries are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols and brimming with vitamins and minerals. There are many ways to get their nutritional benefits, all scrumptious:
- Add frozen strawberries to smoothies for a thick, cold milkshake texture. Blend straight-out-of-the-freezer strawberries with milk (or non-dairy alternative), a little yogurt, other fruit, and honey or another sweetener of your choice.
- Stock them for jam. Frozen strawberries are just as good as fresh for making jam. Stockpile them in the freezer during the harvest season and get around to that jam project later when you have time.
- Make strawberry sorbet or ice cream. Ironically, you'll need to thaw the fruit before transforming it into one of those frozen desserts, but the result will be just as delicious as if you had used fresh strawberries.
- Create a simple, colorful fruit topping. Thaw frozen strawberries and then puree them in a blender. Spoon over yogurt, cake, or fresh fruit. Because there is nothing in the sauce other than the strawberries, it is especially important that you start out with high quality, flavorful berries.
- Make a sweet strawberry sauce. Simmer frozen or thawed strawberries with sugar and vanilla. Blend one-third to one-half of the remaining fruit pieces and add to the mixture for a looser sauce.