Whether you went crazy at the farmers market, went with an active crowd to the strawberry patch, or are lucky enough to a have strawberry plants in your garden ripening at a prolific rate, freezing strawberries is the easiest way to deal with too many fresh strawberries at once.
The bonus prize, besides the ease of freezing them, is how versatile frozen strawberries are. Use them as a base for smoothies or milkshakes—their frozen texture will help thicken the mixture—or just use them in baked goods, no need to defrost first. Freezing strawberries is also an excellent way to put-off any intended jam-making you want to do: frozen berries can be used as if they were fresh and you can wait to make jam on your schedule (and when the idea of lots of boiling pots is more appealing) instead of the strawberries'!
- Pick over the strawberries to make sure no unripe or damaged berries are in the mix.
- Rinse the berries in cool water and pat them thoroughly dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel (see How to Wash Strawberries for more details).
- Hull the strawberries, don't just lop off their green tops! Proper hulling will preserve the most fruit possible while also getting rid of the white calyx under the stem (see How to Hull Strawberries for tips).
- Larger berries can be halved or quartered, if you like, or if you know you're going to want them chopped or sliced when it comes time to use them, go ahead and do that now.
- Lay the berries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. You don't want them super crowded, but they can be touching.
- Put the baking sheet in a freezer until the strawberries are frozen solid, at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Don't leave them as-is on the sheet for much longer than that, they will start to dry out.
- Once they're frozen, transfer the berries to resealable plastic storage bags, forcing as much air as possible out of the bag as possible before sealing.
- Store the frozen strawberries in the freezer until you're ready to use them, up to 6 months (or a full year if you have a stand-alone freezer).
Again, frozen strawberries are perfect for adding to smoothies or shakes. If you want to use them in baked goods (like these Strawberry Ricotta Muffins), just pop them in—there's no need to defrost them first.