Strawberry season is short and sweet. Within a matter of weeks, the sweet red berries turn dark and extra-sweet, slowly turning mushy and bitter. After that, fresh strawberries won’t be nearly as tasty, as they lose a lot of their flavor as they are shipped over borders into the country. So gather up all the fresh strawberries you can find, and freeze them to enjoy until the next strawberry season rolls around.
You have three freezing methods to choose from:
Method 1: Sliced and Sweetened
This is my method of choice this summer. Not because I have a sweet tooth (though I do), but because the sugar helps bring out the flavor of the fruit. I’ve found that fruit can get a little tart over time in the freezer, but the sugar helps preserve the expected strawberry flavor.
Wash the strawberries in cold running water and set aside to drain a bit. Cut off the green and tough tops, or the hulls, then cut the fruit into thin slices. Spread the slices out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Try not to allow them to lay on top of each other, or they won’t freeze evenly.
Sprinkle the strawberries with a little sugar. The key word: little. I only use about 1 teaspoon per pint or quart. They don’t need to be swimming in sugar!
Freeze the strawberries for at least 4 hours, until they are frozen completely through. Transfer to a freezer bag or container and return to the freezer until ready to use. If you are using a bag, be sure to squeeze out all the air as you seal it. If you are using a container, leave as little empty air space available as possible. The more air you have with the strawberries, the easier it will be for your strawberries to get freezer burn. Ouch!
Use this method if… you want to defrost and eat the strawberries plain on top of a breakfast crisp or mixed into yogurt.
Method 2: Sliced and Unsweetened
Same as Method 1, but skip the sugar step.
Use this method if… you want to bake with the strawberries or put them in pancakes, where the sweetness will be provided by the other ingredients.
Method 3: Whole and Unsweetened
Wash the strawberries and set aside to drain. Cut off the hulls, then spread the fruit out on a baking sheet in a single layer.
Freeze the strawberries for at least 6 hours, or until they are completely frozen. Transfer to a freezer bag or container, leaving as little air space as possible, and return to the freezer.
Use this method if… you plan to use the strawberries in smoothies.
Hurry up and freeze your strawberries, then get ready for cherry season!