Strawberry season is among us which means we begin to receive many questions on how we preserve strawberries so the fruit can be enjoyed all year-long.
There is nothing more satisfying than taking a bite out of a fresh picked strawberry right from the patch. If you have never tried a strawberry picked right off the vine, you would be shocked at how sweet it tastes when compared to the store-bought version.
Because strawberry season only lasts 2-3 weeks in many parts of the country, we thought we would share our 3 favorite ways to preserve them.
But first, here are a few tips on how to store fresh berries.
How to Store Fresh Berries
- Don’t wash the strawberries until you are ready to eat them. They are like little sponges and will absorb water. Be sure to use a strainer and not let them soak in water. The extra water will make the berries softer and less flavorful.
- Keep the stems on until you are ready to eat them. Once you take the stems off, the strawberries start to break down and will begin to get mushy.
- Refrigerate berries in a fruit drawer if you want to keep them longer than 2 days. The humidity control in the fruit drawer will help prevent excessive moisture from penetrating the berries.
How To Preserve Strawberries
1. Make Jam/Jellies
One of the most popular ways to preserve strawberries is to make strawberry jam. Below are some of our favorite recipes, including our most popular Strawberry Honey Jam recipe that uses only 4 natural ingredients and includes no white sugar or pectin.
2. Freeze Strawberries
Frozen strawberries are great to use for strawberry shortcake, strawberry sauce, and for smoothies. The key to freezing strawberries is that they must be flash frozen before being added to a storage container in the freezer. Otherwise, you will end up with a clump full of strawberries that are frozen together are not easily separated.
The freezing process is quite simple. Wash and dry your berries. Using a strawberry huller or spoon, scoop out the top stem area. Place the berries on baking sheets in a single layer and place them in your freezer. Once completely frozen (the amount of time it takes will depend on the size of your berries and your freezer temperature) place them in an air-tight, freezer safe container.
We use the Food Saver – It has made our life so much easier when we need to preserve strawberries and many other fruits and vegetables from our garden.
3. Dehydrate Strawberries
We begin to use our dehydrator in May when strawberries are in season and use it through October when we pull our last pepper plant out of the ground. Dehydrating strawberries is the perfect way to add homegrown fruits to cereals, yogurt, and even salads all year-long.
The key to dehydrating strawberries is to cut them into even slices. Layer them on your dehydrating trays in a single layer and process them until they are dry and crisp. Our Cuisinart Dehydrator typically takes 8-10 hours. We turn them on before we go to bed at night and in the morning, they are ready. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.
If you haven’t started your own strawberry patch, be sure to visit a local farm or farmer’s market. Remember, they only come around once a year!
Mary and Jim
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