Strawberry season has officially arrived! The Honeoye strawberries that we added to our patch last year are now ready to bear, and they are chock full of big, delicious berries. This variety is June-bearing, so we have tons of berries ripening all at once — more than we can eat!
It's time to start preserving them.
I really want to make some strawberry jam, but the next couple of weeks are just too busy to embark on a new canning project. That's the kind of thing best done once summer vacation has started and I can devote a whole day to the task.
In the meantime, though, we have to do something with the four quarts of berries I just picked. The easiest method, by far, is to freeze the berries whole. Here's all you need to get started:
Lots of freshly picked, rinsed-off berries, a cutting board, and a knife. (Make sure your knife is sharp and your board is one you don't mind getting stained with red berry juice.)
First, slice off the tops of the berries to remove the leaves:
Leave as much of the berry behind as possible. Not pictured here is the compost bucket, into which I dropped the caps as I cut them.
Next, gently put the berries into a freezer bag:
Label, zip and place flat in the freezer. I also suck out the extra air right before I close it, to save space and leave as little room as possible for any spoilage to start.
This is a gallon freezer bag, but I think I only froze about 3 quarts of berries. This left us some to eat fresh, and made it easier to spread the berries into a neat, flat package before they freeze. This makes for easier storage, and should keep the berries from getting crushed before the freeze up.
Frozen strawberries retain their flavor and can still be used with no problem in baking and jam making. They won't be quite as lovely texture-wise when they thaw, but the pure summertime flavor will be preserved. This is a great option to allow us a lot of choices about how to use them in the future, and to allow me to try my hand at jam-making at my leisure.
And if I didn't hide a bunch away in deep freeze, I think the kids would eat them all right up for lunch!