We spent this past weekend going to block and birthday parties, garage saling, painting scenery for our church’s VBS, getting addicted to Downton Abbey (if you’re a fan, we need to talk. Holy Moly is this show good!), and cleaning, hulling, and preparing 10 quarts of fresh strawberries for our freezer. It was pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted out of a summer weekend.
Sorry, back to the strawberries.
I’ve already told you about the tradition. Each year we buy buckets upon buckets of strawberries to preserve for the whole year round. We usually get ours from Yutzy’s Farm Market in Plain City. They’re family and also happen to be awesome. And have the best prices around on lunch meat and cheese. And local honey. And bulk oats. And trail mix (try the banana split mix!). And beef sticks (this one is the Mr.’s recommendation). If you’re anywhere near Central Ohio you should probably check them out.
But back to the strawberries (I sure am easily distracted today!)
So anyway, this weekend we got 10 quarts of strawberries and decided to preserve them in 3 different ways. The whole process, from hulling to cleaning to cleaning up took about 3 hours. Not bad for a freezer full of strawberry goodness.
Here’s how you can do the same:
Start by hulling all of your strawberries and removing any bad spots. Spread your countertops with old dish or bath towels and/or newspaper. This keeps the strawberries from staining your countertops and also gives you a nice place to spread the berries out and let them dry a bit. Rinse the berries in cold water and then spread them over the towels to dry.
We chose to preserve 2 quarts of our strawberries whole, for things like smoothies and Strawberry Fluff. We smashed and sweetened 4 quarts of our berries for things like Strawberry Shortcake or as a topping for ice cream. We used the last 4 quarts to make a quick no-cook freezer jam.
Below are instructions for each type of recipe. I hope you’ll consider stocking your freezer with strawberries. I assure you, when the snow starts piling up outside your door and the wind is rattling your windows, you’ll be glad you saved this little piece of summer.
For the whole strawberries:
2 quarts fresh strawberries, hulled, rinsed, and dried
2 freezer quart size bags
1. Line 2 large baking pans with foil. If berries are overly large, you may want to halve them so they don’t destroy your blender, but normal sized strawberries will be totally fine.
2. Spread strawberries out evenly over 2 pans. Place in freezer for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Remove from freezer then place berries in zip lock bags. Freeze for up to a year.
Freezing the strawberries first on a baking sheet keeps them from sticking together into one giant strawberry clump. I don’t recommend skipping this step.
For the sweetened, smashed strawberries:
4 quarts fresh strawberries hulled and rinsed
1-2 cups sugar
4 quart size, bpa free, plastic freezer safe containers
1. Divide the strawberries up evenly between 2 large bowls. Pour 1/2 cup of sugar over each bowl. Our strawberries were very sweet to begin with, so I found it didn’t take much to get them the perfect sweetness for shortcake. However, if your strawberries are less sweet, you may want to add additional sugar, up to a cup for every 2 quarts.
2. Using a berry smasher, smash berries until they are very juicy but some chunks still remain. Pour into clean containers, leaving about an inch of headroom at the top. Freeze for up to a year.
For the strawberry freezer jam:
This recipe is taken straight of an Instant Freezer Jam Pectin, so don’t expect anything too exciting here. No cook jam doesn’t quite have the same depth of flavor as cooked jam does. Instead, it tastes like you’re actually spreading fresh fruit on your toast. In other words, amazing. Note: definitely check the directions on the back of your pectin package as it may differ depending on the brand. Follow the directions on the pectin packet, not mine.
4 cups smashed strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 packet no cook freezer pectin
Clean plastic containers (amount will vary depending on what size container you use)
1. In a large bowl stir together sugar and pectin. Stir in strawberries and stir for 3 minutes. Pour into prepared containers, seal, and allow to set up for 30 minutes-1 hour. Freeze for up to a year.