Hip hip hooray! It’s strawberry season! The minute the first strawberries have ripened in the field, I make sure to pick up a at least two or three flats to freeze and a flat to just eat and bake while they are fresh. Our family can’t get enough of them. Like any seasonal fruit or vegetable, they are only around for what seems like a fleeting moment in time and now is that time.
Many of our friends make jam but I’m more of a freezer kind of girl. I’ll make a jar or two of jam to have around but I like having a bags of frozen strawberries on hand to use throughout the year for smoothies, compotes, ice creams or even lemonade (our strawberry rhubarb lemonade was a hit at our Truckin’ Good Food event in June).
If you’re into preserving a few pints, here are a few tips for freezing strawberries:
- Use strawberries when they are at their peak flavour. They should be a bright red colour. You don’t want them under ripened but you don’t want them soft and overripe either. Make sure to use good quality berries, no blemishes or moldy spots. It should also go without saying that if they don’t taste good, don’t use them.
- Wash them thoroughly to remove dirt and any seeds from the surface of the strawberry.
- Hull those berries. I freeze the strawberries whole so once I’ve washed them I just remove the stems. I also give them another rinse once the berries have been hulled to remove any loose leaves that may be left. Make sure they are mostly dry before placing them in the freezer.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the strawberries in a single layer onto the baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least 2-3 hours.
- Once they have frozen, place them into a freezer bag and remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible (too much air causes freezer burn).
- Don’t forget to put a date on the bag! Sometimes I forget to do this and always end up finding random bags of frozen fruit with no idea when it was preserved.
Keep in mind that frozen strawberries do not hold their shape when defrosted. They become soft and mushy. Something to keep in mind when deciding how to use them. They may be perfect for those morning smoothies, but if you’re thinking about a pie, the excess water might be a problem. I tried using frozen for a strawberry crumble but it just turned into a watery mess. I stick to using the berries straight out of the freezer.
If you’re looking for a farm to pick your own strawberries, Brandner Farms has a u-pick option or just pick up a flat or a couple pints. Meleg’s Lakeview Orchards is also available for u-pick. In the city you can head down to the Downtown Windsor Farmers Market to score a pint or two.
A couple years ago, we spent some time on the farm with Monica Brandner and filmed her doing what she does best.
So if you haven’t indulged in the local strawberry harvest yet…what are you waiting for?? It’s only hear for a few short weeks so get out there and eat as much as you possibly can.