Strawberries are a delicious spring and early summer fruit, but what do you do if you have too many of them? With the cost of living rising, no one wants to waste food if they can help it! Luckily, with a little preparation, you can freeze your excess strawberries so they stay good all year long. Follow our step by step instructions, and you can have sweet, juicy strawberries to enjoy with yogurt, in smoothies, or in baking all year long!
Step 1 – Choose your strawberries
When strawberries are in season, sometimes you can end up with an oversupply! Whether you’re a zealous home gardener with a bumper crop or just someone who spotted a great deal at the supermarket, it’s important to choose the right strawberries to freeze.
A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t be happy eating it, then you shouldn’t be freezing it! Inspect the strawberries for rotten bits, bird pecks, soft spots, and bruises, and discard any that are damaged.
Step 2 – Prepare the strawberries
How you freeze your strawberries will depend on what you plan on using them for. If you’re aiming to use them in smoothies or jam, for example, it won’t matter too much how they’re frozen. But, if you have a plan to use them in baking, like in strawberry shortcake or strawberry pie, you might prefer them diced, sliced or halved, depending on the recipe. Note that while it is technically possible to slice them after they’re frozen, it’s far more difficult and fiddly! Read on for the steps for preparing your strawberries.
The first step for all strawberries, regardless of if you’re freezing them whole or not, is to wash and dry them. To wash, fill your kitchen sink or a large bowl with water, and add half a cup of white vinegar. Soak them for about 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. This makes sure they are clean, while also getting rid of any hidden creepy crawlies that might have snuck their way onto the strawberries.
Spread the strawberries out on a towel and leave them to dry, this will take about an hour. Then follow these instructions for preparation:
- Whole strawberries: To freeze whole strawberries, once they’re dry, simply cut off the green tops and move on to the next step.
- Sliced strawberries: Remove the tops and slice.
- Diced strawberries: remove the tops and then dice.
Step 3 – Choose your storage
Storage is probably the most important step to make sure your strawberries freeze well. You need to make sure whatever storage you choose, that the strawberries are completely air tight, as exposure to air will lead to them becoming dried out, discolored and freezer burnt. Some options include:
Zip lock/snap lock bags
These are a great option, particularly if you want to freeze your strawberries in individual portions to use in smoothies or with cereal. Make sure they are sealed properly and that any excess air is squeezed out before you put them in the freezer.
Plastic containers are another great option, but make sure you’re not putting your strawberries in a container that’s too big. It’s easy to overestimate how many strawberries you think you might use at once, but it’s far better to freeze them in portions that are too small than too big, as they can’t be refrozen after thawing.
It’s also essential to make sure there is not too much air in the plastic container – you need to make sure the strawberries are right up to the top of the container before freezing.
Vacuum sealed bags
These are probably the best storage for anything frozen, but it can be a little pricier as you have to purchase a vacuum sealer. A vacuum sealer removes all of the air, which means that you can avoid any freezer burn and your food stays appetizing indefinitely.If you’re someone that regularly freezes produce, however, then it’s an item that’s definitely worth adding to your kitchen collection.
Do not use: Plastic wrap or paper bags. These are not possible to get airtight enough, so your strawberries won’t stay fresh.
Step 4 – Freeze
You need to make sure your freezer is set to 0°F (-18°C) for optimal food safety. At this temperature, food can stay safe to eat indefinitely – although it may not stay appetizing for that long.
In terms of freezer placement, make sure your freezer is not packed too tightly, as that can impede air flow, and make sure your strawberries are stored separately from frozen meat. Also make sure that you’re not opening and closing the freezer too often, this can lead to thawing and refreezing, which damages the quality of your fruit.
Step 5 – Thaw
So you’ve successfully frozen your strawberries, it’s the middle of winter and you’re looking for a little taste of spring. What is the best way to thaw them?
This depends on what you want to use them for! If you want them to retain their shape as much as possible, it’s best to thaw them on the counter or the fridge, or even using them frozen – strawberries can be added to baked goods from frozen quite successfully.
If you are thawing them to mix with yogurt or have with cereal and the shape doesn’t matter, you can go ahead and thaw them in the microwave. For smoothies, try using them still frozen for a frosty treat!