Three quick and easy ways to preserve strawberries in the freezer through the winter including whole, sliced, and as freezer jam, plus ideas for using them for summer flavor all year.
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Depending on where you live, May and June are prime times to either harvest strawberries from your own garden or visit a U-Pick farm or farm stand to purchase in season strawberries.
By late June in Oregon, much of the main strawberry crop is finished producing, but there are still berries to be found at farms. And you will continue to find strawberries in the stores for the next month or so at good prices.
There are two issues you may face when strawberries are in season:
- You have a lot of strawberries. You've bought or harvested a huge flat of berries that are at their prime. This means they will only be good for a few days before you start to lose them - how do you preserve the strawberries easily?
- You have a small amount of strawberries. You grow berries in a small patch and you only harvest a bowl at a time, but still want to preserve them.
With regards to preserving the berries to enjoy their peak flavor later, the answer to both of these situations is:
Freezing is the easiest and quickest way to deal with a large flat of fresh berries, and it's also the ideal way of preserving smaller amounts of berries as you harvest them.
How To Preserve Strawberries 3 Ways In The Freezer
There are three easy techniques you can use to preserve strawberries in the freezer to enjoy their wonderful flavor all year long:
- freezing whole
- freezing sliced with a bit of sugar
- as freezer jam
Freezing Strawberries Whole
The first, and probably easiest, way to freeze strawberries is as whole berries. To do this simply:
- Wash berries and remove green caps. You can use a knife to do this or a special strawberry huller.
- Lay whole berries out on a baking sheet in a single layer
- Freeze until firm.
- Transfer frozen berries to quart-sized freezer bags that have been labeled with the date and contents (take it from me - after a few months you many not recognize what's in the bag!).
How can you use whole frozen strawberries?
Well, they will not be good for fresh eating, as they will be mushy when thawed, though popping a few in your mouth frozen is a treat!
These are great to use in crisps, pies and cobblers, either on their own or with other berries.
But I think the best use for whole, frozen berries, though, is for smoothies! Read more details on this, including my favorite easy berry smoothie recipe here.
Freezing Strawberries Sliced with Sugar
Adding just a bit of sugar to sliced strawberries helps them retain color, texture, and flavor when frozen.
How to make sliced strawberries to freeze:
- Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of sugar to 8 cups of hulled and sliced strawberries.
- Mix gently together until you see the juices start to release from the berries.
- Transfer to freezer bags or other freezer containers. Remember to use the straw trick to remove air.
- Label and date.
How to use sliced strawberries:
These berries are SO good in the dead of winter for breakfast - or anytime for a snack.
Our family agrees that they are best when only partially defrosted. Put a bag in a warm water bath while getting breakfast ready and they should be thawed enough to transfer to a bowl when it's time to eat.
Preserve Strawberries as Freezer Jam
I make no-cook freezer jam not only because it's easier than cooked and canned jams, but because our whole family just likes the fresher flavor of the jam better, since it's made with less sugar and no cooking.
We use jam for toast and sandwiches, but also as a fresh topping for vanilla ice cream. Yum.
Note: I freeze jams, pesto, and tomato sauces in glass mason jars and have had only one crack in many years. Make sure to leave a good inch to 2 inches between the product and top of the rim to allow for expansion when frozen and all should be good.
Commercial or Natural Pectin?
This is the big question for people want to eat healthy. And to be honest, I tried a "natural" pectin (Pomona's) that was expensive and had a distinct aftertaste, sort of like fake sugar. So I still use commercial pectin, though I stick with the lowest sugar versions.
I really like the Ball flex-batch pectins, because you can make small batches easily, which is perfect for those of us with smaller home berry patches. The two pictured above are the "Freezer Pectin" which is a no-cook pectin, and the "Low and No-Sugar Needed Pectin" which does have a short cook time.
For freezer jams, I like the no-cook pectin best since it uses less sugar, costs less, and takes less time. But the biggest reason is that our family finds the flavor just a little brighter and fresher when you don't heat the berries.
Read more about how to make freezer jam here, including more thoughts on commercial pectins.
Can you make freezer jam without pectin?
Yes, there are a couple of ways.
First, you can actually make a homemade pectin out of green apples. But the jam has to be cooked to use it and so loses that fresh flavor we love so much.
Second, you can use chia seeds to thicken freezer jams. You might notice the seeds more with strawberries, but they really aren't noticeable in things like this blackberry chia seed freezer jam.
Thirdly, you can cook the berries slowly until their natural pectin forms. Again, it won't be quite as fresh and it's runnier than many other options, but if you don't want to add anything to the berries other than sugar (and lemon juice), this might be a way to go. Here's a recipe like this to try from Melissa K. Norris.
When it comes to preserving strawberries through the winter in your freezer, you can do all of these 3 methods or just the ones that work for you.
You'll typically find all three in my freezer, because they are good for different things - when there's any left from eating fresh that is!
I'd love to know what your favorite methods to easily preserve strawberries are!
Other Strawberry Recipes to Try:
This article has been updated - it was originally published in June of 2009.Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read my full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.