Preserving the Harvest: Strawberries

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Preserving the Harvest: Strawberries

One of my favorite parts of spring is the strawberries in our CSA.  Trust me, if you haven’t had a fresh local strawberry, you are missing out.  They are perfectly ripe, sweet, delicious, and irresistible.

Or course, their irresistibility means I can go overboard and end up with a few too many strawberries.  And I know I’m not alone.  Whether you went to a “pick your own” farm and picked a few too many, got too excited and bought too many at the farmer’s market, or just ended up with extras from the CSA like I did, you may find yourself needing a way to use all those berries.  Like all berries, strawberries have a limited shelf life and should be used quickly to avoid spoiling.  If you have more than you can possibly eat, there are a number of ways to preserve them for later.

Frozen Strawberries

Freezing: This is the obvious way to save strawberries, but I wanted to provide a few tips for successful freezing.  First, rinse your berries, then hull them (remove the stem).  Blot them lightly if they are still pretty wet, then lay the berries out on a cookie sheet. Put the whole cookie sheet in the freezer.  This may require some creative rearranging, but ensures that the berries don’t freeze in a giant clump, all stuck together.  After several hours, remove the whole sheet from the freezer and transfer the berries to a freezer bag.  Use them in smoothies, cobblers, or even baked goods (like this cake).

Strawberry Popsicles: Another easy way to preserve your berries and ensure a fairly healthy frozen treat for those hot summer days ahead.  Just hull your berries and place them in a blender.  Add about 1/3 cup of water or milk and 1 Tb of honey for every 1 cup of berries.  Blend until smooth and taste.  You want a mixture that is a bit sweet, so add a bit more honey if needed and blend again.  Then pour into pop molds or use paper cups and popsicle sticks.  Freeze and enjoy!

Dried StrawberriesDried Strawberries: This method won’t preserve them for as long as freezing will, but dried berries will last longer then fresh ones.  If you have a dehydrator, that would work best, but you can also use an oven.  Just cut your strawberries in half.  Place them cut side up on a cookie sheet.  Roast at 200 F for 1 1/2 hours.  Flip your berries and roast for another hour.  Check the berries.  I had to reflip most of them and roast for another hour, but some of the small ones were done.  I took mine out when they still had a bit of moisture. These make a great snack!

Other ideas: