Who hasn’t bought more strawberries than it’s possible to eat in a few days? We confess we’ve been guilty of that ourselves. They’re so delicious, after all!
If you’ve ended up hoarding these summer treats, and now you don’t know what to do with them, you’ll be glad to know that freezing fruit is one of the easiest and quickest ways to preserve it.
To freeze strawberries you have to prepare them, flash-freeze them, transfer them to a freezer bag and store them to use later.
Keep reading if you want to know the details on how you can have fresh berries available all year round!
How to Select the Best Strawberries for Freezing
Picking your strawberries carefully is a key factor in achieving the best results when freezing. Overripe strawberries will become mushy after thawing them, for example. For this reason, you should avoid berries that are a deep red color or that have green or white streaks, and go for those that have a bright red color, look shiny and glossy, have fresh-looking green caps instead.
If you want to go a step further in ensuring maximum flavor and texture, select your strawberries when they’re in peak season and buy them at your local farmers market, or plan a fun weekend and pick them fresh yourself!
- Rinse the berries gently with cool water. Don’t soak them, otherwise they’ll lose quality, flavor and nutrients.
- Pat them down softly with a kitchen or paper towel to remove the excess moisture.
- Let them air dry on a kitchen towel, in a single layer, for about 30 minutes.
- Hull the strawberries. There are several ways to do this, the most common ones being simply slicing off the top or using a strawberry huller. However, we prefer saving as much of the fruit as we possibly can by inserting a paring knife at an angle into the stem end to cut around the stem, and remove it.
- Depending on the size, slice the berries in half or quarters, or keep them whole if you want! Bear in mind that most recipes that call for fresh strawberries will instruct you to halve or quarter the fruit. Moreover, halved berries are easier on your blender if you’re planning on making smoothies or milkshakes.
Flash-freezing involves freezing your strawberries, or any other kind of food for that matter, flat, and separated from other pieces to keep them from fusing together during freezing. It also allows you to thaw evenly and use just the amount you’re going to need for your recipe.
- Lay your berries out in a single layer on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper that will fit in your freezer. If you’ve sliced your berries, place the cut side down. You need to make sure that the berries aren’t touching each other, so use multiple trays if needed, or place a piece of parchment paper on top of the first layer and stack a second one on top.
- Place the sheet tray in your freezer for about 2 to 3 hours until they are frozen solid. If you’ve stacked several layers of strawberries, they’ll take longer to freeze.
- Once the strawberries are frozen solid, transfer them to a silicone or plastic freezer bag or container.
- Squeeze the air out of the bag as much as possible to reduce the formation of ice crystals and avoid freezer burn. You can also use a straw to remove it.
- Label the bags or containers by indicating the date and place them in the back of your freezer.
Your strawberries are now good to be stored in your freezer for months until you’re ready to use them! For optimal freshness and flavor, you should eat them within six months of freezing.
How to Freeze-Dry Strawberries
Freeze-drying is a process in which the water is removed from food to keep it from spoiling and reduce its total weight. Freeze-dried strawberries are among the most popular freeze-dried fruits because they’re light and crispy, but sweet and full of flavor.
To make this tasty addition to breakfast and midday snacks, you should start by rinsing the strawberries, blotting them dry, and hulling them. Then, cut the berries vertically into thin slices. The recommendation is that they be no more ¼ inch (0.6 cm) thick, so they can dry evenly.
There are two ways to go about freeze-drying strawberries, using a freeze dryer, a machine designed specifically for this purpose, or drying them in the oven.
Before we start, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure you use the device properly.
- Line the trays that came with the freeze dryer with parchment paper so the strawberries don’t stick to the metal.
- Arrange the berries on a single layer, without any of them overlapping.
- Place the trays into the machine, and close the door.
- Replace the insulated cap on the outside by spinning it clockwise. Double-check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you’ve done it correctly.
- Lock the door and start the machine.
Now let the freeze dryer do its magic. It should freeze them for about 9 hours and then dry them for 12 hours, sometimes a bit longer. Remember to let your device defrost after the drying process is over, and to place the drain over a bucket or sink to keep the water from spilling out over your countertops.
You can still dry your berries without any fancy equipment by simply popping them into the oven. Granted, this technique won’t freeze them, but it’s still a good substitute.
- The berries are going to lose a bit of flavor during the process, so you’ll have to mix 2 tbsp (30 g) of sugar per 1 lb (0.5 kg) of strawberries in a large bowl.
- Let them sit for approximately 30 minutes.
- Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil and spread the berries in a single layer on top of it. Make sure they don’t overlap so they dry evenly.
- Cook the berries at the lowest setting for about 3 hours. It’s important that you rotate the tray every 30 minutes to ensure that the berries dry completely. You might want to set a timer for this, so you don’t forget.
- Once the 3 hours have passed, check the strawberries to make sure they’re adequately dry. They should look dark in color, and the outside should be dry. If this is not the case, put them back in the oven for an extra 10 minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven and let the berries cool down.
And that’s it! Now you have a delicious and nutritious snack you can add to yogurts and oatmeal, or simply eat as is.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frozen strawberries are quite versatile, as you can simply reach into the freezer, thaw them, and include them in any of these treats:
- Desserts like strawberry cheesecake, cobbler, crumble, pie, and compote;
- Smoothies, milkshakes daiquiris, and margaritas;
- Fillings and sauces.
- Preserves or jam.
This will depend entirely on what you’re using them for. For example, smoothies and certain baked goods don’t require thawed strawberries, so you can just toss them into the blender or bowl frozen.
Learning how to freeze strawberries is incredibly easy, and the best part is that you can choose between freezing them in halves, slices, or whole depending on what you’re using them for later. They won’t take too much space in your freezer, and you’ll have them readily available whenever you’re craving a bit of fresh summer sweetness.
As with any other fruit you’re freezing, the key lies in the careful selection of each piece and correct preparation. Hopefully, you’ll find the instructions and tips we’ve provided in this piece useful to that end!