It is strawberry season, and once again, you got carried away at the u-pick farm and the farmers market. Or maybe it was just me. (The kids each wanted to pick their own flat, and I couldn’t deny them the pleasure, could I?) Household members (one in particular not pictured here) accuse me of food hording all through Wisconsin’s short growing season particularly with fruits as sweet and ephemeral as the strawberry. So while the season is here for 3 or 4 weeks in June and early July, we indulge in fresh and the extras we freeze. Freezing offers the quickest and most simple way to preserve them, and it allows us to eat local strawberries all year long.
Frozen strawberries can be eaten as is. My kids think this is the best treat ever–like a popsicle–and sometimes prefer this to a fresh berry. You can also add them to smoothies; they bake up beautifully in pies and cobblers. It is also a good idea to freeze berries before preserving them in other ways. Frozen berries make a superior quality jam with fewer floaters than jam made with fresh. Freezing berries pasteurizes them; this is an essential step in making fruit leathers with a longer shelf-life as freezing kills any bugs or eggs. With so many uses and freezing this easy, let the berry hording begin.
Steps to Freezing Strawberries–Individual Quick Freeze Method (IQF)
- Clean the fruit.
- Remove the stem.
- Spread the fruit so that the pieces are not overlapping on cookie sheets and freeze.
- Once frozen, place in freezer bags or containers and label. They will keep in a deep freeze for up to a year.
This yields individually frozen fruit which you can use in any portion you want later–a single berry or a quart. All berries freeze well using this method. You may also freeze rhubarb like this. Simple chop the rhubarb first before laying it on a cookie sheet.
Quick Pack Methods: You can simply dump the clean and de-stemmed fruit in a bag in the portion you desire–pint, quart etc. You can even mix in a little sugar. They will freeze as a mass. Not as flexible for later use, but the job gets done even quicker.
Use a spatula to transfer the frozen berried from the cookie sheet to the freezer bag.
If the kids picked the berries, why not have them freeze them too?
Always use “freezer” bags, not “storage bags”. If you don’t over stuff them you can stack them neatly in the deep freezer.
If you don’t have a deep freezer (and I suggest you get one if you want to eat locally grown food as much as possible) you can transform these into fruit leathers and store them on a shelf.
Click on the links for these frozen strawberry recipes:
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