It's so easy to freeze strawberries so that you can use them later in smoothies, pies, and more! I share the 4 simple steps to freezing berries, plus lots of recipes that you can make without even thawing the strawberries! Now you can enjoy the flavor of fresh berries all year long!
Whether you have bushels of fresh berries from strawberry picking or you just want to prolong the life of the strawberries in your refrigerator, freezing them is a great choice! It is a wonderful way to enjoy berries that are at their peak in flavor no matter the season.
And the great news is that it is so easy! With just a few simple steps you can store your ripe strawberries in the freezer without worrying about them forming ice crystals or getting frostbite.
They will be ready for future use in things like this strawberry pie recipe that uses frozen strawberries without thawing! Another great way to use frozen strawberries is in smoothies. But that's not all! Scroll on down for more of my favorite recipes that use frozen berries!
When is Strawberry Season?
Strawberries are considered to be a late spring to early summer crop. You can find them at their peak between May and July. But depending on where you live the season can extend even beyond those months. In California, where 90% of the United States strawberry crop is grown, the harvest is from May through August.
Fun fact: May 20th is National Pick Strawberries Day! If you have a strawberry farm nearby or strawberry patches growing in your backyard, mark this date on your calendar and join in on the fun!
Should Produce be Washed Before Freezing?
It is important to wash and dry your fruit before freezing. This will help remove pesticides that were sprayed on the fruit, as well as wash away any dirt. And berries can hold onto a lot of dirt! If you wash your strawberries in a bowl then you will be amazed at the amount of dirt left in the bottom of the bowl, and will be so glad that you washed them!
There are a couple of different ways you can rinse your fruit:
1) Rinse - The easiest method is to simply rinse them under cold running water. Place the whole berries in a colander and put the colander in your kitchen sink. Turn on cold water and allow it to run over the berries. Gently rub them to remove the dirt.
2) Vinegar Wash - This is my favorite way to clean produce as vinegar helps to kill off bacteria that causes spoilage. Now it isn't going to spoil in the freezer, but it still makes me feel good to know that my strawberries are completely clean. To prepare a vinegar wash, put your fruit in a large bowl then fill it with a 4-1 ratio of water and white vinegar. (For example, 2 cups of water and ½ cup vinegar). Let the fruit sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse it thoroughly with cool water.
You can also add a teaspoon of baking soda or salt to your water, or use a store-bought fruit and vegetable wash, but I don't find those methods as effective as the vinegar wash, or really any better than plain water.
Steps to Freeze Strawberries
Here are the 4 simple steps to properly freezing strawberries:
-Rinse the whole strawberries under cold water or soak for 15 minutes in a solution of white vinegar and water, then rinse thoroughly.
-Pat dry with a paper towel or lay on a towel to dry. Drying your berries before freezing helps reduce ice buildup on your fruit when it freezes.
- Remove Hull
-Use a strawberry corer or tomato corer to remove the green stem from the strawberry, or just slice the top off and discard.
-Slice berries in quarters, halves, or slices. For smoothies and pies I like to cut them in quarters but sliced works well also.
- Flash Freeze
-Lay the strawberries in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Space them where they are not touching. And make sure the cookie sheet you are using will fit in your freezer!
-If they are piled together they will stick together, so this helps them freeze individually. This is much easier for pulling out just the amount of strawberries you need and also blends easier in a blender.
-You can stack several layers of parchment on top of each other if you need to freeze more berries than what fits in one row. The more stacks you have the longer it will take for them to freeze.
- Transfer to Storage Container
-Place the tray of strawberries in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
-Once they are frozen, remove the berries from the freezer and place them in zip-top freezer bags, freezer-safe storage containers (glass or plastic), glass canning jars, or vacuum-sealed bags.
-Return to the freezer.
Pro Tip: Using a vacuum-sealed bag is the best way to avoid freezer burn. But make sure that the berries are completely frozen before placing them in the bag. Otherwise, the vacuum sealer will pull the juices out of the strawberries and the fruit will become mushy as the air is removed from the bag.
Freezing Strawberries in Syrup
Freezing strawberries in syrup helps maintain their fresh flavor. This is a great method if you plan to use as a pancake or waffle topping. You can also stir strawberries with syrup into yogurt, pour it over ice cream, or use in desserts like strawberry shortcakes.
- Slice or dice one pint of strawberries, and sprinkle with ⅓ cup of sugar.
- Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice onto them, if desired. This brings out the strawberry flavor.
- Sit the berries at room temperature for one hour, occasionally stirring, until the sugar syrup develops.
- Then transfer the berries to your freezer containers and store them in the freezer. You can freeze them in ice cube containers if you want to be able to use a small amount at a time. Or split into half cup or greater portions, if desired.
- Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Ways to Use Frozen Berries (Without Thawing!)
There are lots of ways to use frozen strawberries without even thawing them first. That means you don't have to plan ahead! Just pull them out of the freezer and add them right into your recipes. Here are 11 recipes you will enjoy:
- Strawberry Pie Filling
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- Chia Pudding
- Cocktails and Mocktails
- Frozen Strawberry Lemonade
- Strawberry Apple Crisp
- Strawberry Muffins
- Strawberry Sauce
- Blender Ice Cream
- Frozen Fruit Cups
Depending on the temperature of your freezer, the berries will be fully hardened in 2-3 hours. After this time you can transfer them to plastic freezer bags or freezer-safe containers.
Frozen strawberries will keep in your freezer for up to a year. If they are vacuum-sealed the shelf life is even longer!
Most recipes that call for fresh strawberries will also work well with frozen. Thaw the berries and pat them dry before using them in a recipe.
For best results, freeze strawberries that are at their peak in freshness. Firm berries with little to no bruising are best for most recipes. Over-ripe strawberries can be frozen for use in smoothies and in recipes where the texture of the fruit does not matter.