Every June it sneaks up on me – strawberry season. I’ve spent the last few months working through our freezer stash and home-canned goods. The weather is getting warmer, and we all want to live outside and forget about complicated meals.
Then it hits me – it’s time to start preserving again!
The first item on the list is strawberries. And, boy, am I thankful! Strawberries are one of the easiest foods to preserve!
Today I’m going to share how you can easily preserve strawberries for the whole year and what you can do with them.
We actually ran out of strawberries this year. That hasn’t happened in a while. My kids are growing like weeds and eating more than ever. So this summer I’ll need those growing hands to pick more strawberries! Hopefully, this reminder will help us all be prepared for the start of preserving season.
RELATED: More on freezing fruits and veggies!
Are you ready to get started?
How to Freeze Strawberries
Hands down the easiest way to preserve strawberries is to freeze them whole. Follow these simple steps.
- Find local strawberries and either pick them yourself or buy them pre-picked.
- Wash the strawberries.
- Hull the strawberries.
- Lay them on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the freezer until frozen (8 hours or more).
- Remove the frozen strawberries from the baking sheet and store them in a sealed container (freezer bags or freezer-safe containers) in the freezer for up to a year.
This is a great job for kids to help with. Even little ones can help put strawberries on a tray.
I find that gallon freezer bags work best. Simply take out strawberries as needed. You can also freeze them in smaller quantities for single use. You can even add a few other fruits to the bag to make smoothie kits!
This is the simplest form of preservation, but you can also freeze strawberries in other forms. This includes:
Mashed or pureed strawberries store best in containers. Freeze them in the quantities you’ll use them. For example, freeze 2 cups of mashed strawberries to use in a topping.
Sliced strawberries can be frozen on a tray and bagged just like whole strawberries.
How to Preserve Strawberries
Not everyone has the freezer space for a large number of strawberries. Thankfully there are other ways to preserve them.
Strawberry Fruit Leather
Homemade strawberry fruit leather is such a great naturally-sweet treat for kids! Simply puree the strawberries in a blender and pour the puree onto a lined dehydrator tray. Dry it until you can peel the fruit off the tray. Roll it up and store it in a sealed container in the cupboard or pantry. It will stay good for at least a month, possibly longer. But if your kids are like mine, it won’t last more than a few days. More about homemade fruit leather here.
My kids love dried fruit. I feel like we spend a fortune on it. But making your own dried strawberries is so easy. Wash, hull, and slice fresh strawberries. Place them on a dehydrator tray and dry until they peel away easily. Letting them dry for a long time will turn them into crispy strawberries. My kids love them. More about dehydrating fruit here.
Summer is just not summer without a batch (or two or five) of strawberry jam. You can do the canned version to stock your pantry, or you can make freezer jam. I tend to do the freezer jam so I don’t have to get my canner out already in June. The only downside to strawberry freezer jam is remembering to take it out of the freezer on time to thaw!
When canning strawberry jam, I typically follow the recipe on the pectin bottle, but with a lot less sweetener. For freezer jam, I use my easy, pectin-free strawberry freezer jam recipe. It uses grass-fed instead of pectin!
Strawberry topping is another great way to preserve strawberries. You can go really simple and just mash the strawberries with a bit of honey and store it in freezer-safe containers. Or you can make a cooked topping and can or freeze it. Either way, you decrease the volume of the strawberries and save yourself time later on.
What to do with Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
I mentioned earlier that you’re going to want to preserve a lot of strawberries. There’s a good reason. You can make so many delicious foods with strawberries! You can use fresh and frozen strawberries interchangeably in almost any recipe.
Here are some great ways to use fresh or frozen strawberries.
- Strawberry Lemon Jello Salad
- Pectin-free Strawberry Freezer Jam
- Strawberry Topping
- Strawberry Fruit leather
- Oatmeal Topped with Strawberries
- Fruit-on-the-bottom Yogurt
- Chia pudding with Strawberries
- Baked oatmeal
- Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
- Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake
- Strawberry Cream Pops
- Strawberry Ice cream
- Strawberry Frozen yogurt
- Strawberry Slush
- Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Of course, one of the best ways to eat strawberries is plain! They make a no-prep, healthy dessert.
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Tools for Preserving Strawberries
Preserving strawberries doesn’t require any complicated equipment. You can preserve all of your strawberries simply with a couple of baking sheets and some storage bags. Or you can go farther with canning equipment. Here are the tools you might need for preserving strawberries, depending on which methods from above you want to try.
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Plastic or silicone freezer-safe storage bags
- Freezer-safe storage containers
- Water bath canner
- Canning jars and lids
- Organic pectin
Should You Buy Organic Strawberries?
Strawberries are usually pretty high on the Dirty Dozen list – meaning they have a lot of pesticide residue. So if you are able to find organic strawberries, that is best.
But it’s also possible to find local growers that don’t use pesticides, yet aren’t certified organic. In my opinion, this is the best option! Support local while keeping your family healthy. So call around to local farms and see what options are available.
The most cost-effective way to get a large amount of strawberries is to pick them yourself at a local U-pick farm.
Can You Freeze Other Fruits?
These same freezing and preservation tips apply to other fruits as well. You can freeze the following fruits using the same method.
- Sweet or Tart Cherries (pitted)
If you’ve never tasted a fresh strawberry in June, you’re missing out! It’s like the plant world’s announcement that summer has arrived. The flavor is incomparable. And I’m happy to tell you that you can capture that flavor to savor it all year long by freezing strawberries!