Fresh strawberries are mouth wateringly delicious. They’re bursting with flavor and perfect in countless recipes or just eaten straight from the carton. There’s a problem though – they don’t last long. Even if you’re ultra careful, your berries will only last a week in the fridge (and you’ll lose some along the way). That’s why we’re looking at how to freeze fresh strawberries.
This approach works regardless of where you get your strawberries from. Even strawberries purchased online and shipped to you can be frozen. Doing so makes them last much longer.
Frozen strawberries aren’t quite the same as fresh ones, of course. No matter how you freeze and thaw them, the texture of your berries will change. That’s not the end of the world though. There are still plenty of ways to use frozen strawberries.
You know what else? Freezing strawberries halts the deterioration process. So, strawberries that you froze when you first got them are probably more nutritious than those that have been in your fridge for almost a week. This is true for most frozen fruits and vegetables.
Steps For Freezing Fresh Strawberries
1. Prep The Berries
You can thaw strawberries as they are, without any prep work at all. However, that’s not a good idea. It’s best to prep the strawberries first. This way you can use them straight from the freezer.
Start by rinsing and then drying the strawberries. Drying them gently with a kitchen towel and then leaving them to sit for a while on a paper towel lined tray is an excellent approach.
It’s important to get them as dry as possible, as any moisture may contribute to freezer burn.
You’ll also need to remove the leaves and stem. You can do this with a sharp knife or a specialized hulling tool.
2. Spread Them Out
Next, you’ll need a baking tray that’s been lined with parchment paper. Arrange your strawberries on here in a single layer.
It’s crucial that your strawberries don’t touch at all. Otherwise, they’ll stick together when frozen.
3. Freeze Them
Then carefully place the baking sheet in the freezer, making sure to keep the strawberries in their positions. It should take around three hours to freeze whole strawberries. The time will be shorter if you’re freezing strawberry chunks or slices instead.
An optional step is to first cool your berries, like by placing them in the fridge before freezing them or even near a cold air vent. Lowering the temperature like this helps the berries to freeze faster, which should lead to smaller ice crystals and less loss of texture.
4. Bag Them Up
Once the strawberries are completely frozen, you can transfer them off the baking sheet and into resealable plastic bags. Thick bags are best, as these ensure the berries don’t absorb other flavors from your fridge.
Make sure you get all the air out of the bag before freezing it. You could even double bag the strawberries, to further reduce the risk of freezer burn.
Other Things To Think About
Should You Slice Your Strawberries?
Freezing whole berries isn’t your only option. You can also cut them up into chunks or slice them.
Sliced strawberries will thaw faster than whole strawberries. They’re easier to use as well. Plus, it’s much easier to slice strawberries when they’re fresh, compared to when they’re frozen or thawed.
In the end, the way you freeze your strawberries will depend on how you plan to use them. For example, whole frozen strawberries are fantastic in smoothies or dropped into drinks as ice cubes, but they don’t work well in baked recipes like strawberry muffins.
Regardless of the style you choose, you’ll still need to spread your berries out on a baking sheet when you first freeze them.
Try Strawberry Puree
You can also puree the strawberries into a sauce, then freeze this.
To make things even simpler, why not portion the puree out? An easy way is to pour the puree into an ice cube tray and stick the tray in the freezer. Once the strawberry puree has completely frozen, you can store the individual cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer.
This gives you tiny servings of strawberry puree that you can add into any recipe that you like. You could even use them as ice cubes in your drink.
Freezing Sweetened Strawberries
Another approach is to sweeten your strawberries before freezing them. This can be as simple as first cutting your strawberries up, then adding half a cup or so of sugar. Stir the strawberries and sugar together in a bowl until the sugar has completely dissolved.
After this, you can spoon the berries into a container, seal the container, and put it in the freezer. Make sure the container you choose fits the berries well (any empty space can lead to freezer burn).
While these berries won’t be as versatile as regular frozen strawberries, they’ll be perfect for making fruit pies or cobblers in a hurry.
Will The Strawberries Stay Firm?
The steps we talked about before all help to make your strawberries as good as they can be.
But, they’ll always be somewhat mushy after you thaw them. This happens because plant cells have rigid walls. When you freeze fruit, the water inside the cells expands and the cell walls can’t expand with it. So, the cells burst, which reduces the rigidity of the whole fruit.
Freezing the fruit quickly helps, which is why flash frozen berries from the store often turn out better than the ones you freeze at home. However, even these won’t be firm when they’re thawed.
How To Thaw Frozen Strawberries
It’s often best to use strawberries straight from the freezer, without defrosting them.
If you are going to defrost them, going slowly helps. You can do this easily by just putting the berries in the fridge overnight. They should be mostly thawed by the next morning.
Placing the berries in an airtight bag and using an ice water bath can work as well. This way you get thawed berries in just an hour or two.
Using A Microwave
You can also thaw frozen berries in a microwave.
To do so, you need to spread your strawberries out in a layer on a plate lined with a paper towel. Then you use the defrost setting for 30 seconds at a time.
After each 30-second window, you’ll need to take the berries out of the microwave and check them. Whole strawberries may take two minutes or so when defrosted this way.
The best stopping point is when the strawberries look like they are just lightly frosted. They should still have their familiar shape.
This approach works best if your strawberries (or strawberry pieces) are all roughly the same size. If you have different sizes, then the berries will defrost unevenly.
Thawed strawberries will need to be handled carefully, as they’re much more delicate than fresh ones.
What Can You Use Frozen Strawberries For?
Frozen strawberries won’t work well in any dish that relies on the firmness of a strawberry. This means that you can’t make stuffed strawberries or turn the berry into a beautiful strawberry rose.
Instead, you need recipes where the texture of the strawberry doesn’t really matter. This includes any type of sauce or jam, along with pies and many layered desserts.
Smoothies are excellent too. You can often use strawberries straight from your freezer instead of ice. Doing so gives you a fantastic texture, without watering your smoothie down in the way that ice does.
Chopped frozen strawberries also work well in many baking recipes. In fact, it’s often impossible to tell whether fresh or frozen strawberries were used
The texture change makes frozen strawberries unappealing for regular snacking.
There is a workaround though. If you really want to eat the strawberries on their own, then don’t defrost them all the way. This way the berries are still somewhat firm, as they’re getting some structure from the ice.
Can You Freeze Mushy Strawberries?
Ideally, you should freeze strawberries within a day or two of getting them. This way you get the most flavor and best possible texture from them.
But, things don’t always work out that way. You might end up keeping the strawberries in the fridge for a while, before realizing that you won’t get to them before they go off.
What if they’re already quite squishy? Surprisingly, you can still freeze strawberries in this state. They’re still useful too. For example, you can blend them into a smoothie or use them in homemade ice cream.
Strawberries are easy to freeze. You just need to get rid of the stems, wash and dry them, then freeze in a single layer. Nothing to it. Frozen strawberries also work well in many recipes.
Just don’t expect them to be the same as fresh strawberries. No matter how careful you are, strawberries will always lose some of their firmness. This is why it’s often best to use the strawberries while they’re still frozen, rather than thawing them first.