Market Notes: Preserving Strawberries

I’m a recent convert to freezing fruit. As a method of preservation, it results in a much fresher flavor. However, in the past there just wasn’t enough room in my freezer. Now, with 8 winter markets on the Seacoast, year round availability of local food has me rethinking what to store. I still put up batches of strawberry jam, but find that having some of it frozen adds some welcome variety come mid-winter. Once defrosted and pureed, it can then be added to any manner of desserts, made into ice cream, stirred into yogurt or, like most frozen fruit, processed into more jam. Strawberry daiquiries, anyone?

For preserving, I enjoy picking my own berries; this allows me to select them while still slightly under ripe. It might make for tart eating now, but keeps the flavor from fading later. Like rhubarb, strawberries can be frozen as is, but will hold better if sweetened. Most recipes call for a proportion of 3/4 cup sugar per quart of strawberries but I prefer using less than half that amount. It seems an obvious thing, but remember to hull the strawberries before freezing them. It will prevent you from feeling foolish later.

Freezing strawberries:

– Wash strawberries in cool water, then drain. Hull, and gently pat dry.

– Add enough sugar to coat the berries, about 1/4 to 3/4 cup sugar per quart, or to taste. Toss together well—you may have to use your hands—until slightly syrupy.

– Pack into freezer-safe containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace if using glass jars. Seal and freeze.

Note: I like to keep the strawberries whole, but they may certainly be halved or sliced, or even crushed before the sugar is added. This method of freezing works equally well with all berries—make up of a mix of what’s in season!

For more information about preserving, visit our new resource page. Farms offering strawberries, pick-your-own or already picked, may be found through Seacoast Harvest.

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