There is nothing better than a juicy, sweet, ruby red fresh picked strawberry. Sadly, strawberries go bad quickly if they are not handled correctly.
Here is everything you need to know in order to properly wash, store, freeze, or puree strawberries so that you can enjoy them for the longest period of time!
Why these methods work:
Everyone knows you need to wash strawberries before you eat them. Unlike other berries that grow on bushes or vines, strawberries grow close to the ground and are often covered in dirt.
I've always been of the mindset that you shouldn't wash strawberries until you're about to eat them. Why? Because wet berries will get mold and mushy very quickly.
All fruits, especially those grown organically, will have mold spores. Strawberries will grow mold quicker than some other fruits due to their soft flesh. That is why I always wash all of my strawberries as soon as they are picked or brought home from the berry stand or Farmers' Market.
Once the mold spores are removed, the strawberries will last MUCH longer if dried properly.
How to wash strawberries:
A simple solution of vinegar and water is all that is needed. If you've ever wondered how to clean strawberries so they last longer, this is the best method.
- For a half flat of strawberries, or about 6 pints, fill a large bowl with about 3 liters of cold water and a quarter cup of distilled vinegar. These amounts are approximate and don't need to be exact.
- Add the strawberries to the solution. They will float so you will need to gently press them down with your hands to fully submerge them. You can also use your hands to gently agitate them like a washing machine.
- After a good ten minute soak, lift the strawberries out of the bowl and transfer to a colander, leaving the dirty water behind to be discarded. Give them a good rinse.
- Shake off as much water as possible or you can even use a salad spinner if it won't bruise the strawberries. Then, transfer them to a towel. They must fully dry before storing in the refrigerator or freezing, so I will use a fan to speed up the process and will often change the towel if it gets saturated.
How to Store Strawberries:
In order to keep strawberries fresh, they must be:
- clean and dry
- stored in a container that will remove or reduce moisture
A standard air tight storage container will trap moisture. Wet strawberries lead to moldy and mushy strawberries.
A simple method is to store the strawberries in an uncovered paper towel lined bowl. This method is easy and works well, but there is an even better method.
My way to store strawberries is to use a storage container meant for fresh produce. It typically has a basket inside the container that keeps the produce away from the solid walls of the container.
During refrigeration, the strawberries will release moisture. This type of container allows that moisture to become trapped in between the basket and the container and not on the berries. The lid is also vented to allow for air flow and sometimes there is even a carbon filter built in to help the produce last longer.
How to Freeze Strawberries:
There are a few tips and tricks to follow if you're wondering how to freeze fresh strawberries.
The berries must be clean and dry. You cannot store unwashed strawberries because once they thaw, they will become soft and release liquid, thus making it impossible to wash them without losing that wonderful strawberry juice.
If you simply add the fresh strawberries to a plastic storage bag and stick them in the freezer, they will freeze into one solid block. Here are the easy steps to properly freeze them:
- Set the clean and dry strawberries on a baking sheet. Be sure to remove the hulls with a hulling tool or a knife. I recommend using parchment paper as it will prevent sticking.
- Set the tray in your freezer until they are frozen solid. I usually let them sit over night. As you can see, there is no frost on the strawberries because they were dry.
- Once frozen solid, you can transfer them to a resealable plastic bag, suck all the air out, and freeze them for months.
How to make strawberry puree:
This is actually my favorite way to preserve strawberries. Not only is it a quick and easy process, but homemade strawberry sauce is easily frozen. Once thawed, it tastes as good as the day you pureed it. Plus, there is less of a chance of freezer burn because you reduce the surface area.
- Simply add your clean and hulled strawberries to the blender. I shake off as much water as possible, but it's not necessary to get them completely dry as if you were freezing the whole berries.
- I process using the sauce setting. Nothing else needs to be added to the blender.
- I prefer using plastic reusable quart sized containers to freeze and store the strawberry puree.
I hold onto my strawberry puree until the dead of winter when I am sick of eating apples and pears and citrus. I'll use the puree on oatmeal, in a yogurt parfait, on pancakes, in smoothies, or in mixed drinks. It always brings a welcome taste of summer any time of year!
Farm fresh, local, juice red strawberries like these Oregon Hood Strawberries are best eaten fresh. No argument there. But there's no denying that there are so many amazing strawberry recipes that are perfect for fresh, frozen, or pureed strawberries. Here are just a few:
- Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
- Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
- Strawberry Banana Smoothie
- Classic Strawberry Shortcake
- Lemon Strawberry Trifle
- Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt Popsicles
Did you find this post helpful? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!
How to Wash Strawberries
- 3 L cold water
- ¼ cup distilled vinegar
- 6 pints strawberries
- Fill a large bowl with approximately 3 liters cold water. Add vinegar. Add strawberries. Submerge by gently pressing down on the strawberries and use your hands to move them around.
- Allow strawberries to soak in vinegar solution for about 10 minutes.
- Use hands to scoop strawberries out of vinegar solution and gently place in colander. Rinse with cold water. Discard dirty water.
- Set strawberries on paper towels or a clean dish cloth in a single layer. They must be fully dry prior to refrigerating or freezing.
- Use a fresh batch of water and vinegar with each batch of strawberries.
- Prior to setting strawberries on towel, shake off as much excess water as possible.
- If using a kitchen towel versus paper towels, I recommend using a dark red towel as the strawberries might stain.
- I highly recommend blowing a fan over the top of the strawberries in order to dry them quicker.
- If the towel is saturated, transfer the strawberries to a dry towel (flipping them over so the dry side is down) in order to fully dry the berry.