There are several good reasons to freeze your own strawberries. Strawberries picked fresh and frozen at home taste much better than any of the pre-packaged frozen strawberries you can buy in the store. Plus, freezing your own fresh strawberries is a great way to have delicious, good-for-you fruit during the winter months. Strawberries are much less expensive during their normal productive season, so freezing them then and thawing for use during the off-season can also save money.
While freezing strawberries does not make them sterile, it does prevent bacteria and fungi from growing and causing the fruits to spoil. Frozen strawberries won't keep forever, but they will remain usable long enough to make the freezing process worthwhile. This post will cover the basics of how to freeze strawberries, step by step. If you want a much more detailed description and instructions for the different freezing methods, see the Freezing Strawberries reference page. (This same process used for freezing strawberries can be used for freezing blueberries, freezing raspberries, or freezing just about any other kind of berry.)
How to Freeze Strawberries: First Things First
Before you can start freezing strawberries, you have to get them. Pick Your Own strawberry farms are a good place to get a large quantity of fresh strawberries during the growing season. Or, even better, you can grow strawberries yourself in your personal garden (see the Growing Strawberries page for help). You can also get them from farmers’ markets, supermarkets or grocery stores, and roadside stands.
Freezing Strawberries Requires Some Equipment
Gather the equipment you will need as you begin the process to freeze strawberries. You will need a colander or strainer, a knife or cap remover tool to remove the strawberry caps, zip-lock freezer bags (a vacuum sealer actually works better if you have one available to you), a large bowl, a lipped cookie sheet or shallow oven pan, and a freezer.
How to Freeze Strawberries: De-Cap Them
Take your knife or strawberry de-capping tool and carefully remove the green, leafy caps (also called hulls). Take care to leave all of the red berry while taking all the green leafy part.
How to Freeze Strawberries: Wash & Sort Them
Next, put the strawberries in the large bowl and fill it will cold water. Gently wash the floating strawberries and allow them to roll through your fingers. The mushy or rotten strawberries should be easy to detect. Remove them. Don't let the strawberries soak in the water. As soon as they are washed, move on to the next step.
How to Freeze Strawberries: Drain in Colander
After thoroughly washing the berries in the cold water, all the bits of leaves, residual dust and dirt, and other debris should be liberated. At this point, gently pour the strawberries into the colander or strainer to drain. Give the strawberries one good rinse with cold water. After rinsing, allow them to sit for about ten minutes to remove as much of the excess water as possible.
How to Freeze Strawberries: Spread & Freeze
Once the strawberries are drained, it is time to spread them out and begin freezing strawberries in the freezer. Take your shallow pan or cookie sheet and spread the berries out one layer thick. Once spread, put them in the freezer. Freezing strawberries take a while, so leave them in until they are completely frozen. It is best to leave them in for 16 to 24 hours to ensure frozen strawberries.
How to Freeze Strawberries: Bag ‘Em!
Once frozen, remove the strawberries and put them into bags. You may have to break up some of them as strawberries freeze together if they are touching in the freezer. After you have them in the zip-lock bags, remove as much air as possible. A vacuum seal system is great here. If you don’t have a vacuum system, close the zip-lock bag almost all the way. Leave just enough room for a straw to be inserted. Suck as much air out through the straw as you can, then remove the straw and rapidly seal the bag. Label and date the bag. Voila, frozen strawberries bagged and ready to store in the deep freeze!
Freezing Strawberries: Conclusion
Freezing strawberries can save money and offer a source of tasty fruit during the cold winter months. Now that you know how to freeze strawberries, make use of the knowledge! When you are ready to eat or use the frozen strawberries, simply retrieve them from the freezer and thaw them. This can be done on the counter in a few hours or by leaving them in the refrigerator overnight. To sweeten the strawberries, sugar or syrup can be added during the freezing process. Enjoy, and bon appétit!