Now that strawberry season is here, or will soon be for many of us, it is time to plan how to preserve those fresh picked strawberries so that you can enjoy the taste all year long.
There is nothing more satisfying than taking a bite out of a fresh picked strawberry right from the patch. The berries are always so juicy and full of flavor.
Not to mention how sweet the strawberries are when they are fresh picked and in season. If you have never tried a strawberry picked right off the vine, you would be shocked at how sweet it tastes when compared to store-bought strawberries.
Just like most fruits and vegetables, there is simply no comparison in the quality and taste of fresh picked produce.
However, because strawberry season only lasts 2-3 weeks in many parts of the country, there is always the concern of how to keep them fresh for a long period of time. In addition, we often get the question on how to preserve strawberries so that they can be enjoyed even through winter.
Below you will find our favorite tips, tricks, and methods for both storing and preserving strawberries.
Tips For Storing Fresh Strawberries
1. Wait To Clean The Strawberries
In order to keep strawberries nice and firm, do not clean or rinse them as soon as you bring them home. Instead, wait until you are ready to eat them.
The berries are like little sponges and will absorb water and end up soft and mushy. Therefore, when you go to wash them be sure to rinse them in a strainer and not let them soak in water.
The extra water that is absorbed if you let them soak will make the berries soft and less flavorful.
2. Do Not Remove The Stems
If your strawberries have stems, do not remove them. In fact, you will want to keep the stems on until you are ready eat them.
Once you pull the stems off, the strawberries start to break down and will begin to get mushy, especially towards the top of the berry.
3. Refrigerator Tips
If you want to keep strawberries fresh for longer than 2 days, then the berries must be stored in the refrigerator. I have tried various methods to keep them fresh and have found two ways that will keep them good for over a week.
First, place paper towels in the bottom of your crisper drawer. Then take the strawberries out of the basket or container and place them directly on the paper towel.
Because moisture is one of the main causes of strawberries turning soft and molding quickly, the paper towels are placed there to help absorb the moisture. Once the unwashed strawberries are in the drawer, move the vent to the completely open position.
However, my favorite way to store and preserve fresh picked strawberries in the refrigerator is with mason jars. Simply place the berries inside a quart size mason jar, being sure not to pack them in too tightly.
Then place the lid and band on the jar and seal. After a week, your strawberries will still be nice and firm.
How To Preserve Strawberries
As much as we enjoy eating fresh strawberries, I also like to store them for use throughout the year. Therefore, I have found several ways that this can be done, without a lot of effort.
1. Make Jam/Jellies
One of the most popular ways to preserve strawberries is to make strawberry jam or jelly. Because the strawberries are ripe and I can use the actual berries, and not juice the juice, I prefer to make jam instead of jelly.
Jam is surprisingly easy to make, and even the novice cook can make several jars of it without a problem. However, it is important to pick the right recipe for you.
Some jam recipes call for canning jars of it to last up to a year. And others are designed to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
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.
- Strawberry Honey Jam
- Sugar Free Strawberry Jam
- Instant Pot Strawberry Honey Jam
- Sugar Free Strawberry Jam
- Strawberry Freezer Jam
- 30 Minute Strawberry Jam
- Strawberry Vanilla Jam
- Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
2. Freeze Strawberries
Frozen strawberries are great way to preserve strawberries for later use. They can be used for making strawberry sauces, the topping for strawberry shortcake, and to add strawberries to any smoothie recipe.
However, the key to freezing strawberries is to flash freeze them before adding them 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 to make air tight pouches filled with 1-2 cups of the frozen berries. Then whenever we need strawberries, we simply open the packet and make the recipe.
3. Dehydrate Strawberries
Every year we pull out the dehydrator from storage in May when strawberries are in season. Then we keep it close by because we use it through October when we pull our last pepper plant out of the ground to make hot pepper powder and flakes.
Dehydrating strawberries is an easy way to preserve the flavor with very little storage space required. It is the perfect way to add fruit to cereals, yogurt, and even salads all year-long.
The key to dehydrating strawberries is to cut them into even thickness slices. Then layer them on your dehydrating trays in a single layer and process them until they are dry and crisp.
Although we have an industrial size dehydrator because of the massive amounts of garden produce that we preserve, you can find smaller dehydrators, like this Elechomes Dehydrator that are less expensive but still get good customer reviews.
Depending on the brand of dehydrator, the process for dehydrating strawberries typically takes 8-10 hours. I will turn them on before I go to bed at night and in the morning, they are ready.
Then I place them in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator or freezer.
And there you have it! All of our tips and tricks to store and preserve fresh picked strawberries.
Mary and Jim
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