Towards the end of summer farmer's markets, backyard crops, and supermarket shelves are packed to capacity with cheap strawberries. The end result is way more berries than any household can hope to eat. Making a batch of jam will help to ease the stockpile, but another excellent option is to freeze them. This will provide a supply of strawberries for those times of the year when getting your hands on a punnet is a challenge.
We’re about to show you how to freeze strawberries so that they retain their delicious taste and texture, as well as locking in the nutritional value. Be sure to also check out our guide on how to store strawberries in the fridge.
How to freeze strawberries
Before getting started, get some essential equipment ready to make your job easier. You will need a sharp paring knife for hulling the strawberries as well as some zip-lock freezer bags, a pen for labeling, and one or two cookie sheets.
Cleaning the strawberries before freezing is essential because they may be coated in dirt or unwanted sprays. You'll also find that washing them after they've been frozen will be more difficult. A simple way to wash them is to place the strawberries in a strainer and gently rinse under tap water. Once they are clean, the berries can be transferred to a clean, dry tea towel or some paper towels. Gently pat them dry ensuring there are no leftover drops of water.
Check out our guide to cleaning strawberries for more advice.
Holding a strawberry in one hand, carefully use a paring knife to slice around the green stem (aka calyx) and remove it. Depending on the knife, you may have better control by holding the blade, just below the handle. It is quicker to simply slice the top off the strawberry, but this will waste some of the fruit.
Another option for hulling strawberries that you may find works better is to use a metal straw. Force it from the bottom up through the berry and out the top. The stem should pop out neatly, but you will waste some of the strawberry. This option may get messy if the fruit is overripe.
Using a sharp knife and a chopping board slice each strawberry in half lengthwise. Recipes for compote, cobbler, and pie will often call for halved strawberries so this is the way we recommend to freeze. Another common use for strawberries is to add them to smoothies. Slicing the berries in half will put a lot less strain on your blender as whole frozen berries can be tough work to process.
Transfer the halved strawberries in a single layer onto a sheet tray that has been lined with parchment paper. For large batches of berries use several trays or stack up multiple levels of berries on one tray. You will need to use paper between each layer so that the strawberries don't stick together.
Add strawberries to the freezer and leave them for around four hours. A single tray will take less time but multiple layers could take longer than four hours. You'll know they're ready when the berries feel hard.
5. Bag up
Once the strawberries are frozen it is time to bag them up. Transfer them into airtight containers or plastic freezer bags; the ones with a zip-lock lid are useful. Before closing, remove as much air as possible and then seal securely.
Label each bag with the fruit's name and current date to avoid any confusion further down the track. Finally, place the berries at the back of the freezer to avoid temperature fluctuations.
How can I use frozen strawberries?
Thawed strawberries lose their lovely brightness and firm texture that you can get from fresh ones. They won't make an ideal centerpiece for your dessert menu and stuffing them isn't a great option. Instead, use frozen strawberries in the following ways:
- Combine them with sugar and jam-setter in a large pot to make a delicious batch of strawberry jam.
- Add berries to a smoothie or milkshake by blending with other ingredients like milk, honey, bananas, and any other fruit you have available.
- Cook the fruit with sugar in a saucepan until it softens and then blend it to make a delicious strawberry sauce for your next cake, bowl of yogurt, or fruit salad.
- Transform the fruit into creamy ice cream or a refreshing sorbet that tastes better than any store-bought version.
Commonly asked questions
Which strawberries are best for freezing?
You may not always be spoiled for choice, but if you have the option choose strawberries that are full of fruity aroma. They should be shiny and bright red all over with no white or green patches.
Berries that are a deep red color could be overripe; they will have a lot of flavor and sweetness, perfect for smoothies. But the texture will probably be mushy once thawed so remember this when it comes time to use them in dishes. If possible, buy strawberries during peak season as this is when they have the best flavor, freshly picked.
How long can you freeze strawberries?
Strawberries will retain their quality for up to one year if frozen. Storing for longer periods will cause the fruit to lose its flavor, color, and texture. Freezer burn is also more likely. Berries that are kept in the door of the freezer are likely to experience temperature fluctuations and will probably last less than 12 months.
How do I defrost strawberries?
To defrost strawberries, remove them from the airtight container and placed them in a single layer on a large plate. Let them sit at room temperature for one hour and they will be ready to use.
Are you in a hurry? Reduce the thawing time by using the defrost function on the microwave oven. Check the fruits every 30 seconds and if necessary, remove any that have thawed out to ensure they don't cook. Using a microwave will result in more juice being released from the fruit.
Should I wash strawberries before freezing them?
Strawberries should always be washed before freezing as it is much easier to remove dirt, pesticides, and residue when they are firm and fresh. You can still wash the fruit after freezing but it won't be as easy, as the fruit may be a little mushy.
Should I thaw strawberries before using them?
If you are going to blend your strawberries into food or drinks like smoothies then they can be used from frozen. We recommend chopping the fruit in two halves or even quarters before freezing to place less strain on your blender. For baked goods like muffins and cakes you can add them to the batter frozen. Unless the fruit has been pre-cut before freezing, it may be difficult to chop the berries before defrosting.
The final word
At some stage, you're going to get landed with more strawberries than you know what to do with. It could be the result of a successful backyard crop or an overzealous trip to a farmer’s market in summer. Maybe several household members all bought punnets at the same time because they're on sale? Whatever the reason, an excellent option for reducing food waste is to freeze them.
The two most important tips to remember from this page are: first, pre-freeze the fruit individually to avoid a big clump of fruit; second, make sure the strawberries are stored in a bag or container that is completely free from air and moisture. Following this advice will result in delicious fruit that retains its quality and nutrition, providing a tasty stock of berries, even in the darkest winter months.
Do you have a special tip or technique that you use for freezing strawberries? Please let us know in the comments below.