Strawberry season is finally here! With such a short growing season (late April through the end of May), I become slightly obsessed with this beautiful red fruit.
When it comes to strawberries, the fresher the better. For this reason, I prefer locally grown berries. Also, picking your own is a fun family activity and something the kids look forward to each year.
Whether eating your berries fresh or preserving them, you want to make sure you wash them in a white vinegar and water solution as soon as you get home to kill the mold spores on the surface of the berries. This applies to both farm and store bought strawberries.
Washing Your Strawberries
As soon as you return home, place the strawberries in a large bowl and submerge in a combination of 1 part white vinegar / 3 parts water. Let soak for 10-15 minutes.
Rinse, place on a dish towel, and let dry.
Once dry, place in a paper towel lined bowl or container and store in the refrigerator.
Freezing Your Strawberries
While canning is the most energy efficient way of preserving strawberries, I also like to freeze a few quarts for use later in the year for smoothies, ice cream, and baked goods. Keep in mind that the water content of the strawberries causes ice crystals to form, which damages the berries' cell structure, making them mushy once thawed. As a result, frozen berries are less versatile than fresh ones. However, it is a wonderful option if you are looking to use unsweetened strawberries during colder months, when they are no longer in season.
If storing in the freezer, after washing and drying, remove the stems and place in a freezer safe container such as quart size ziplock bag and store in the freezer up to 6 months.