Do you love fresh berries but you are not a fan of the price to buy them at the grocery store? Then this post on how to freeze strawberries is the answer you need.
Pick your own berries at a discount and fill your freezer with this sweet fruit that you can enjoy year-round.
I love strawberries, and every year, I look forward to the end of June when our berries are ready to pick. This is when I can fill my freezer with bags and bags full of these delicious berries. But, there is a trick to freezing berries so they stay bruise-free, fresh, and delicious until you are ready to eat them.
The good news is, the trick to freezing perfect berries is easy.
In Northwestern Pennsylvania, June is one of my favorite months. It’s warm; the air smells fresh and sweet. The sun is back in the sky, and the kids are on summer break.
And yes, it’s strawberry season!
If you are like me, summer is the time to fill your freezers and pantries with fresh wonderful summer foods to help see us through the winter. Homesteading is all about finding ways to provide food for you and your family. It is also about frugal living and that means staying out of the stores and living on what you have rather than buying what you need.
This is much easier to do in the summertime since we have our gardens, farmers’ markets, and pick-your-own fields that are all in abundance with fruit and vegetables.
But winter is a different story.
Once winter arrives, the food options are slim, especially up north. That is why it is so important to prepare for winter during the summer by picking, preserving, and stocking up on a variety of produce your family enjoys.
And that includes fruit and berries. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are all my favorites. Even though this article is just about how to freeze strawberries you can use this method with just about any berry out there.
Freezing berries can be tricky because of all the moisture they contain. I used to come home from the fields with my berries, wash them up, remove the tops, and put them directly into freezer bags thinking that was the correct way to do things.
I soon learned this was not the best way to freeze delicate berries. Instead of bags full of loose berries, I found frozen clumps of fruit that I could not separate into the portions I needed.
At times, I am embarrassed to say, I actually hammered my berries just to get a few to use in my smoothies. I can only imagine the condition of those strawberries from being bludgeoned all in the name of healthiness.
Since then, I have learned just a few simple tricks that make freezing berries of any kind super easy.
How To Freeze Strawberries
These steps will work for any berries you want to freeze giving you a wonderful variety in your winter freezer.
Step #1. Choose only the best and freshest berries.
Although it is not required, I highly recommend growing your own berries. Nothing is better than knowing your fruit is organic, and if you grow berries yourself, you will know the exact path your fruit took from start to finish.
If you are like me, however, and are surrounded by “pick your own” fields, you may find it easier to pick rather than grow.
SLCG Pro Tip: Before you visit a strawberry field, make a call to see what pesticides, if any, they use. This information will determine if the field you wanted to visit is a growing fruit that is organic.
Our practice where we live is to try to go organic whenever possible. This ensures we are freezing strawberries that are the healthiest for our family.
Step #2. Freeze the day you pick.
When you freeze strawberries, this tip is incredibly important. The healthiest and freshest-tasting berries are frozen soon after they are picked.
By freezing quickly, you are locking in all those nutrients at their peak, so you will enjoy the amazing health benefits even months later.
For that reason, you will want to pick early in the morning so you have the rest of the day to do your prep and freeze work.
Step #3. Clean and prepare your berries.
The most thorough way to clean berries is 3 steps.
- Gently wash each strawberry
- Remove the top
- Check for any blemishes as you go along.
As you are cleaning if you see any overripe berries can be set aside to enjoy now.
SLCG Pro Tip: Don’t toss your berry cuttings. Chickens and pigs love strawberries, and your tops will be a lovely treat for them. If you do not have livestock to give your cuttings to, add them to your compost bin instead.
Step #4. Let the strawberries dry.
After your berries are washed, place them in a colander to remove some of the excess moisture. Next, gently place the berries onto a layer of paper towels to continue air drying.
Even though they do not need to be completely dry, the more moisture you can remove, the less ice you will have in the freezer bag later on.
This step will help to reduce the chance of frozen clumps of berries in your freezer.
Step #5. Do a pre-freeze of your berries.
This one tip will completely change how your berries freeze going forward.
After allowing your berries to dry you will want to place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet and set them in the freezer for about 20-40 minutes.
This step will ensure your berries stay separated once they are in freezer bags and that they do not freeze in big clumps.
Once the outside feels frozen to the touch, they are ready for freezing.
SLCG Pro Tip: While you are waiting for the berries to freeze, you can work on dating your freezer bags or containers.
Step #6. Transfer to freezer bags.
Remove one cookie sheet at a time and quickly place your desired portions into labeled 1-quart freezer bags. I like to add about 2 cups to each bag, so I know ahead of time just how much a bag contains for specific recipes when needed.
Be sure to work quickly so the berries do not begin to thaw while you are transferring them into freezer bags.
Step #7. Final freeze.
Once your bags are full, remove as much air as possible and seal. Place them back into your freezer, laying them flat until they are completely frozen.
SLCG Pro Tip: For a more organized freezer, keep frozen fruits together so you can quickly find what you need without the risk of partial thawing that can happen if the door is open too long.
If you have a chest freezer, storing bags can be a little tricky. I like to use these recycling baskets to organize our freezer. They are easy to move around and stand up quite well in the freezer.
There is nothing worse than losing food to freezer burn, and these baskets really help to keep things organized.
You can find these baskets here. With the handles, you can easily pick up a full basket and see what you have underneath. I love these baskets, they keep a chest freezer completely neat and organized.
Get more Freezer Organizing Tips here.
Final note: Even though you have tips on freezing your strawberries, they will still be mushy when thawed. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent that from happening, but as long as you are using thawed berries for recipes rather than garnishes, they will be fine.
- 2 cups Fresh Strawberries
- 1 Quart sized freezer bag
- Cookie sheet
- Wash and core each berry, removing any bad fruit and blemishes.
- Allow to air dry on a paper towel for about 20 minutes.
- Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze for 20-30 minutes.
- Place into dated and labeled freezer bags being sure to remove all of the air before sealing.
- Freeze and use within one year.
The trick to freezing berries of any kind is to allow to dry thoroughly before freezing. The water is what causes ice crystals to form when freezing so the more you can allow the berries to dry the better.
With that being said you do not want your berries to sit out at room temperature for too long or your berries will continue to ripen. Your best bet is to do this quickly so you are freezing the freshes berries possible.
A fun summer snack is enjoying frozen berries right from the freezer.
Freezing berries is a great resource to fill your freezer with summer food that you can enjoy all year long.
There is nothing better than enjoying a little bit of summer in the dead cold of winter. Once you learn how to freeze strawberries, you can also use this trick with other produce.