There is nothing quite as enticing as a flat of strawberries at the farmers’ market. The flavor of strawberries is amazing. However, I think a large part of my draw to a flat of strawberries is due to coming out of winter to this gorgeous red color. Plus, the price for a flat is usually too good to turn down.
So, if you’re like me and couldn’t keep away from all those strawberries, the question becomes: what do you do with all of them? While you might be able to eat through a flat in a week, below are three ways to preserve strawberries so you can enjoy that sweet, local-grown flavor year-round.
Before diving in to any of the methods, there’s a couple steps to take to prep the strawberries. Be sure to wash them well (strawberries fall on the dirty-dozen list). Then remove the greens and the pith from the strawberry. There is a special tool you can get to help with this process but I much prefer my trusty pairing knife. Once you’ve rinsed and trimmed the strawberries, it’s time to choose your method.
Starting out with the easiest method first: freezing. I love to have frozen berries on hand for morning oatmeal, yogurt snacks, popsicle making- the list could go on and on. Once you’ve cleaned your strawberries, freezing is fairly simple.
To freeze strawberries: place cut/top-side down on a sheet tray that will fit in your freezer. It’s fine if the strawberries are touching. Place in the freezer overnight. Once the strawberries are frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container and use within the year.
This method is for those of you who have a dehydrator or an oven that goes down to 140˚F or so. If you purchased a dehydrator and have been slow to use it, time to change that! For strawberries, I like to place the flat end on a cutting board and cut the strawberries into thin (1/16″ to 1/8″) slices.
Lay the strawberries on a tray and dehydrate at 135˚F. Between 6 to 18 hours, the thinner strawberries should be dry and chewy. Leave the strawberries in up to 18 hours for crisp dried strawberries. Just make sure the strawberries are dry to the touch! Turn off the dehydrator and let cool. Break a strawberry in half and check for moisture.
When stored properly, dried strawberries can last up to a year. This article has good advice for how to properly store all kinds of dried food.
Finally, one of my favorite items to make is this honey-sweetened strawberry jam. It’s perfect for nut-butter sandwiches, dessert crepes, and/or pancake topping. You can also do a simple sugar-strawberry canned mixture.
Canning takes a bit of special equipment but if you find yourself wanting to ‘save the season’ with many summer produce items- it’s time to invest! There are a ton of books to get you started. I also have a slightly older, brief guide to canning.