We were rolling in strawberries in May and the beginning of June. We picked 18 pounds from our little 4×12′ patch, and that was even after we got rid of a ton lost to fruit rot because of all of the rain, and also some to the bugs. We used zero sprays of any sort on the berries, so I’m pretty happy with our harvest.
Even though we had more strawberries than I’ve ever seen in one place, we ended up eating almost all of them immediately. I was only able to freeze about a quart and a half – which was exactly enough to make freezer jam!
The best way to preserve strawberries is to freeze them. I’m not too concerned about their texture after freezing (because they’re probably going to be mashed up into something else anyway), plus I’d rather not have sugar added to my fruit, so I just freeze them whole.
How to freeze strawberries whole:
- Wash and cut the green tops off.
- Spread berries on on a cookie sheet or other flat dish (I used a cooling rack because the cookie sheets were dirty…) so they are in one layer and aren’t touching. This will keep them from freezing together. You can put a layer of plastic wrap on the sheet before laying the strawberries out to keep them from sticking, if you prefer. You can also put a layer of plastic wrap on top of the strawberries.
- Put the cookie sheet in the freezer and freeze for the minimum amount of time it takes for the strawberries to freeze individually. I think it took about an hour for me. You want the strawberries to freeze whole, without being in the freezer for so long that they get freezer burn.
- Once the strawberries are frozen, remove them from the freezer and pack in a plastic freezer bag. Be sure you’re using a “freezer” bag and not a “storage” bag. Storage bags aren’t intended for freezing, and have micro perforations in the bag that allow moisture and air circulation. In a freezer environment, this is bad because it can lead to ice crystals forming and freezer burn. Freezer bags don’t allow moisture in or out, so your frozen product remains a higher quality.
- Put the berries in the freezer bag back in the freezer. At this point the strawberries should each be frozen individually, so they won’t clump together in the freezer. This way you can pour out as many berries as you need, instead of having to use an ice pick to break off a few from a frozen ice block of berries.
Last summer I made freezer jam for the first time, and I’ve never gone back. It’s so much easier to control the ingredients in your jam when you just make it yourself. And freezer jam is so easy, it’s totally worth it to make it instead of buying it.
Making freezer jam is also 10x easier than canning jam. a) You don’t have to can the jars, and b) you don’t have to use nearly as much sugar as you do with regular canned jam.
I buy the Ball freezer jam pectin, and follow the recipe on the back which can be used with any type of fruit. 1 package pectin, mix with 1.5 cup sugar, mix with 4 cups crushed fruit. How easy is that!