When strawberries are in season it’s time to think long term.
It’s a short burst of a season marking the true beginning of summer. When school is about to let out the fields are bursting with green and bright red. The aggregate fruit, that it technically not a berry, is one of the most popular crops we offer and usually has the most buzz about it. The season is here now and they are abundant. So how can we make the season last?
Can I freeze fresh strawberries?
Absolutely. You can slice them, crush them, liquefy them or keep them whole. They freeze well. If you do keep them whole, when they thaw they more than likely not act like a strawberry out of the field, but that doesn’t mean they don’t retain the fresh flavor of summer. Freeze them first individually on a sheet pan before transferring to a freezer bag (make sure they are actually freezer bags and not just plastic bags.) Once they are in the plastic bag, close the zip on the bag except for one tiny corner. Insert a straw and suck all the air out that you can before pulling the straw out and closing the bag. This will keep the freezer burn away.
How do you dehydrate a Strawberry?
The first step is to wash them up. Next you have to make sure the stem is removed completely. If you have a dehydrator you can cut them into strips and set it for 135 degrees for 10 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, no problem! Cut them into quarters and place them cut side up on a baking sheet. Put them in the oven on the lowest setting on the top shelf at 200 degrees. If the oven is running hot, crack the door open (but be careful!) This isn’t a perfect science so you may want to move the sheet around the oven a few times and watch how long they’ve been in.
Want to know if your strawberries have been completely dried? Place them in a glass jar about half full for a week, shaking the jar a couple times per day. If you notice condensation showing up the strawberries need a little more drying time.
Canning, Preserving, and Jellies
You can can strawberries but the water takes away from the flavor. There is a way to extract the juice from the strawberries to use as the preservation liquid, but we’ve never tried it and so can’t recommend that. Strawberry preserves and jam are great options and those can later be used in other dishes, like cookies! They keep well in the panty and make great gifts!
The season goes by quick. One of the best times of year is the first time you bite into a fresh local strawberry. The ones we get all winter at the grocery store can curb a craving, but there isn’t a substitute for a fresh local strawberry!