June is one of my favorite months for one particular reason: u-pick strawberries from local farms. Every year I look forward to picking strawberries; to me there is nothing more joyful then picking a ripe, sweet strawberry. The strawberry season is so short here in Michigan, so I always try to make sure to pick at the beginning of the season, which is just about 3 short weeks!
In an effort to eat more local, in season fruits and vegetables, I started freezing produce when its in peak season. I have found that just freezing in ziplock bags didn’t work that great. No matter how much air I got out of the bag, the produce didn’t last as long for me. Last year I started using a FoodSaver and it worked so much better. I was able to go twice strawberry picking twice last year and I was able to stock up for the winter. The method that I used last year worked beautifully and I had fresh, local strawberries throughout the winter. I actually still had one bag left before I went picking this year.
Last year I used a really old FoodSaver that was probably over 10 years old. It had never been used before, but it wasn’t very user friendly. It worked great though. I was able to freeze and preserve the beautiful sweet strawberries that I had picked at the farm. This year I decided to upgrade to a newer FoodSaver model. This is the one that I got and so far so good. It seems to be working out well.
When you get home from u-picking or the farmer’s market with your strawberries, first clean and rinse them. Let them drain in a strainer for a few minutes. Next hull the strawberries, making sure just to remove the green stems. You can freeze the strawberries whole or sliced.
Next, line the strawberries on a cookie sheet or pan lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the strawberries aren’t touching each other. Let them air dry for 20 minutes. Then place the sheet pan in the freezer for about 3 hours, or until the strawberries are firm to the touch.
One you take the berries out of the freezer, immediately place in your freezer bag. If you are using a foodsaver, seal the strawberries. I like to label the bag with the quantity and date. Place in immediately back in the freezer. Now you’ll be able to enjoy strawberries throughout the year!