The joys of our Strawberry U-Pick is not limited to the harvest season of May and June. Once the strawberries are picked in the early morning, they are ready for fresh eating, preserving and freezing. Freezing strawberries takes the pressure off of a busy harvest season and allows the home preserver to make syrup, jams, and jellies in the middle of winter when there is a blanket of snow over the strawberry patch!
How to Freeze Strawberries
Strawberries are very easy to freeze. After picking the berries, use a large pan or bucket and run cold water over the berries to clean. It is best to allow the strawberries to soak for just a few minutes. Drain and rinse the berries. Then lay them on a clean towel to absorb the water. Next, pull the caps off either with a knife or your fingers. Just pull at the green cap with a slight twisting motion and it will come clean. After the berries have been cleaned, pat dry any remaining moisture. After that, spread the strawberries in a single layer on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and freeze for three hours.
Once berries are frozen and firm remove them from the cookie sheet pan and place in a zip top freezer bag or reusable freezer container and return to the freezer. Strawberries are now preserved for later use as individual berries for morning oatmeal or smoothies or they are ready to process into jam, jelly or syrup during the winter months. Freezing strawberries is really that simple! This process works for other berries like blackberries and blueberries.
Making Strawberry Syrup
Place one gallon of frozen strawberries in a large stockpot. Cover strawberries with fresh water and bring to a boil. Allow strawberries to boil for 10 minutes then cover and turn off heat. Once strawberries have cooled to room temperature strain strawberry juice to remove pulp. It will require straining a few times. The last straining of the strawberry juice should be done through a fine mesh strainer. Return the strained strawberry juice to the large stock pot. For a delicious syrup, use equal parts sugar and strawberry juice. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until liquid in pot has reduced by one-third. Pour boiling hot syrup into prepared jars or syrup bottles and process according to safe canning methods.
Strawberry syrup is delicious on French toast, pancakes, waffles, ice cream or added to your favorite lemonade recipe for strawberry lemonade. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!