Each May, I pick around 100 pounds of fresh, red, ripe strawberries. While a lot of those beautiful berries go straight into my family’s mouths, I do manage to save some of them for freezing as well.
Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits to freeze because freezing preserves the flavor so well, and frozen strawberries are stupendously versatile! We love using frozen strawberries in jams, smoothies, crisps, pies, and oatmeal. Frozen strawberries are a wonderful way to bring a little bit of summer to wintertime!
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How do you freeze strawberries without them getting mushy?
Let’s be honest, no matter what you do, frozen strawberries are never going to have the same texture after defrosting as they would if they were fresh. But you can help the strawberries keep their shape and avoid mushiness if you follow a few simple rules:
- Avoid using overripe strawberries—if they are dark red and already super-soft before going into the freezer, they will be mushy when you defrost them.
- Freeze your strawberries in a single layer on a baking sheet before moving them to containers. Big clumps of frozen berries will defrost unevenly, making them more prone to mush.
- Wash your strawberries before freezing. This will remove any potential mold or bacteria that would help your strawberries break down faster.
Should strawberries be washed before freezing?
For organic strawberries, it’s recommended, but not absolutely necessary. A gentle wash in cold water to get off any dirt before freezing will do the trick. For conventionally grown strawberries, we absolutely suggest washing the berries well before freezing.
One caveat here, if you are planning on using your berries for wild yeast in beer or wine brewing, do not wash your berries before freezing. This will remove any of the wild yeast.
Is it better to freeze strawberries whole or sliced?
It depends on what you are using your strawberries for! We use most of our frozen strawberries for smoothies, so we stick with whole berries because it’s simpler. If you want to make pies or crisps, you might want to go with sliced. Or maybe you want to do a little of both. It’s up to you!
Okay, teach me how to freeze strawberries!
The process to freeze strawberries is super simple:
Wash your strawberries. Just rinse them gently with cool water.
Remove the hulls. Now you need to remove the green leaves and any tougher white core. You can do this with a sharp paring knife, or—my favorite tool for this, a strawberry huller! If you plan on freezing a lot of strawberries regularly, it is worth buying one. I got mine for $2 at a local strawberry patch 10 years ago, and it still works wonderfully.
Time to freeze! Spread your strawberries out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and slide it into your freezer. Once they are frozen, you’re ready to move on!
Move the strawberries to your freezer containers. Move your strawberries to your freezer containers or bags, label, and seal! Be sure to squeeze out as much air as you can.
We flash freeze strawberries (freezing them flat on a baking sheet) first to make them easy to measure out later and easy to thaw evenly.
What containers should I use to freeze fresh strawberries?
What containers you use to freeze your strawberries depends on a few factors. How much freezer space do you have? How are you planning on using your berries? What is your personal belief on the use of plastic to store your food?
Here are the four main ways you can store your frozen strawberries:
- Glass Food Storage Containers—They take up more space, but are reusable and completely freezer safe. They also stack really nicely, which is wonderful in a chest or upright freezer.
- Glass Canning Jars—They also take up more space than plastic baggies, but wedge better in small nooks in your freezer. Make sure to look for freezer safe jars (the ones with straight sides).
- Zip-top Freezer Bags—These are the most affordable of the options, and they take up less space, but they are also single-use plastic and give you the shortest freezer life.
- Vacuum Sealing Bags—This is the way to save the most space and get the longest life from your frozen berries, but it does require purchasing a special piece of equipment and using single use plastics. Vacuum sealing isn’t the best option if you plan on grabbing just a little bit at a time (like a handful of berries for a smoothie) because it is difficult to reseal the bags once they are cut open.
There is no right or wrong answer here, and in fact, in our freezer, you’ll see a combination of all four of these. For our strawberry haul each year, I usually put most of it in quart and gallon vacuum sealed bags. The quart size is perfect for crisps and crumbles, and the gallon size works to dump into a large glass food storage container to keep at the ready for smoothies.
You must flash freeze strawberries before putting them in a vacuum sealer. If you don’t, the pressure of the vacuum will smoosh the berries and suck the juice into your sealer.
How long will my frozen strawberries last in the freezer?
Without vacuum sealing, you’ll want to use your strawberries within about 8-12 months. If you have vacuum sealed your berries, you can get as much as 2-3 years out of frozen strawberries!
What can I do with frozen strawberries? Do I need to thaw them first?
Strawberries are one of the most versatile things you can freeze! Whether you need to thaw them first depends on how you’re using them. Here are a few ideas we have for using them (and we’ll let you know if you need to thaw first or not:
- You can use frozen strawberries to can jam! In fact, it’s one of my favorite hacks—you’ll usually find me making strawberry jam in January when the kitchen is less busy. Both our Mixed Berry Agave Jam and our Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam work perfectly with frozen (unthawed) strawberries.
- Thaw your berries first, and then mix them into Strawberry Cheesecake Overnight Oats.
- Use frozen unthawed strawberries to make Smoothies cool and creamy!
- Margarita time! Frozen Cucumber Strawberry Margaritas use unthawed frozen strawberries for a fruity cocktail.
- For our Pitcher Strawberry Mojitos, you’ll want to thaw the strawberries first before muddling them.
- Thaw your berries and then slice to use in Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits.
- Whip up frozen unthawed strawberries with frozen bananas to make our delicious Strawberry Banana Soft Serve “Nice” Cream.
- Use frozen unthawed strawberries in your favorite strawberry crumble or crisp crisp recipe. If you’re making a pie, thaw the strawberries first to avoid a soggy bottom crust.