Freezing strawberries

Enjoy strawberries from the summer months all year long by freezing them for later use.

Michigan strawberriesWhen you have too many strawberries you can eat, freeze them for later. Strawberries are easy to freeze. Always pick strawberries that have bright red color, fresh-looking green caps and a firm texture. Strawberries do not ripen after they have been picked, but you should use your berries as soon as possible, whether you eat them fresh or freeze them. Before freezing discard mushy or spoiled berries. Leave the caps on the strawberries and do not wash until you’re ready to freeze them.

There are several different methods of freezing strawberries depending on the intended use. Strawberries packed in syrup are generally best for uncooked desserts; those packed in dry sugar or those left unsweetened are best for cooking purposes because of having less liquid.

The dry-sugar pack is easy and gives the best flavor and color to sliced or crushed berries. The syrup pack is recommended for whole berries because it produces a plump, well-shaped berry after thawing. Strawberries can be frozen without sugar or with an artificial sweetener.

To prepare berries for the dry-sugar pack, halve, quarter, slice or crush clean berries into a bowl. Sprinkle sugar over berries, using 1/3 to 3/4 cup sugar for each quart of fruit. Gently mix berries until sugar is completely dissolved. Package and freeze promptly at 0 degree Fahrenheit or below.

To make the syrup pack, mix 1 ¼ cups water to each 1 cup sugar. Dissolve the sugar in cold or hot water. If hot water is used, chill the syrup before using. Use about 1/2 to 1/3 cup of syrup for each pint container. Place the whole or sliced berries in containers and cover with cold syrup, package and freeze.

To prepare an unsweetened pack, place whole, sliced or crushed berries into containers. Cover with water or berry juice; package and freeze. Berries can also be frozen on trays in the freezer and put into containers as they are frozen. This gives you opportunities to use smaller amounts.

No matter what type of pack you use, there are general directions for preparing and packaging strawberries for freezing:

  • Choose firm, fully ripe berries.
  • Wash only a few berries at a time to avoid bruising.
  • Drain well on paper towel or colander.
  • Remove hulls.
  • Chill berries in ice water to lower its temperature for fast freezing.
  • Do not fill containers completely, allow for head space.

Refer to Michigan State University Extension Michigan Fresh food preservation fact sheets for freezing instructions for a variety of Michigan grown fruits.

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