Strawberry season is in full-swing here in WI. Last Saturday I braved the stormy weather and went strawberry picking and came home with 10 pounds of juicy, ripe strawberries. After giving a few pounds to my parents (and eating a pound or two myself…), I decided to freeze the rest to enjoy later this summer or fall.
Freezing fruit and vegetables is a little more work than you’d think. While you can throw all the fruit in a freezer bag and call it a day, I prefer to individually freeze my produce so it isn’t just one big clump. I wanted to share my method if any readers are wondering how to get frozen produce that you can portion out as needed.
After soaking the berries, Washing produce is always important, but when you are going to save it for the future, it is that much more important. All those bugs would love for us to forget this step, so they have a few months to slowly grow and multiply. After a little research online I found the best method for berries is to soak them in a water-vinegar mixture for 30 minutes. The vinegar helps kill any mold that may be on the berries.
First I filled 1/2 the sink with water and poured the berries in. I swished them around to clean them a bit and then cut the tops off. To keep them separate, I place the cut berries into a strainer. After cutting all the tops off I drained the water in the left sink and then refilled it with a water-vinegar solution (about 1/2 cup vinegar and just enough water so the berries would be covered. I rinsed the berries in the strainer and then dumped them back into the solution to soak for 30 minutes.
After soaking the berries, I drained the solution and rinsed the berries. I lined the strainer with paper towel and placed the berries in the strainer to dry. After about 15 minutes I dumped them onto kitchen towels to finish drying.
Freezing the Berries (or any other produce)
It is very important that the berries are dry before you freeze them – otherwise they will get icy. The key to freezing produce without it clumping together is to freeze it in 2 steps. First I line baking sheets with cling wrap. Next I individually place each strawberry onto the prepared pan. I am sure to not let any berries touch each other. Place the full pan in the freezer for about 1 hour, or until they are hard. Remove the berries from the freezer and then place them into freezer bags. If you’d like, you can stop at this part and just place the freezer bags of fruit into the freezer. The berries will not stick together, so you can pull out how ever many you need at a time.
If you think you’ll keep the berries in the freezer for more than a month or two, I like to “vacuum” seal them.
I place a straw into the freezer bag and close the bag as much as I can. I manually remove as much air as possible. Then I suck on the straw to pull out any air left in the bag. While sucking I press on the seal and remove the straw once the bag is sucked to the fruit. It takes a bit of practice, but after a few bags you get the hang of the process so you don’t let in any more air. This isn’t as good as the foodsaver vacuum sealer system, but it costs about 5 cents vs. $250.