Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How To Freeze Strawberries Two Ways

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The middle of June means many things: the official start of summer, school letting out, warm weather, longer days... But one of my favorites? Strawberry season.

Hands-down, my favorite way to eat a strawberry is right off the plant, still warm from the sun. Fresh strawberries are so sweet and flavorful when they're picked fresh. (mmm... this post is making me hungry!)

But strawberries are only in season for a few weeks. We like to enjoy berries all year long, but I just can't bring myself to pay five dollars a pound for fresh berries in the middle of winter. So, what's a frugal girl to do?

Freeze them.

Lots of them. We are fortunate to have two freezers to preserve the fruits (and veggies) of our labor, so the over the last two weeks I went picking three times and brought home over 20 pounds of strawberries.

What did we do with all those strawberries? Of course, we ate a few pints. Well, at least Hubby and I did (Kiddo just isn't a fan). Then I froze the rest to use all year long.

Why Freeze Berries Yourself?

  • Buying berries in-season is less expensive than buying fresh or even frozen berries out-of-season.
  • You can support your local farmers by picking your own or buying from farmer's markets.
  • You know the quality of the berries you are using. Did you know the FDA allows mold to be present in frozen and canned berries? (Ick.)
  • You control the ingredients. Sweeten berries or jam with real cane sugar or honey instead of the high fructose corn syrup found in most store-bought varieties.


We enjoy frozen berries in our yogurt (and an occasional smoothie) year-round, so I try to freeze a lot of them. Flash-freezing makes it easy to only take out the amount of berries you need at one time.

  1. Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut smaller berries into pieces or slice them using an egg slicer, if desired.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper, parchment, or a silicone baking mat and arrange the berries in a single layer on top.
  3. Freeze flat for several hours or overnight, until berries are frozen. If possible, try not to open the freezer during this time so the berries freeze as quickly as possible.
  4. Transfer to freezer bags or containers for long-term storage. 

Freezer Jam:

We do a lot of canning during the summer, but when it comes to strawberries, I think freezer jam just tastes better. I like my strawberry jam to taste fresh, and not too sweet.
We eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and prefer strawberry jam to grape jelly. Unfortunately, most store-bought jams and preserves are high in sugar and fructose corn syrup, something I would rather not feed my family. Making my own freezer jam ensures that we have the freshest ingredients, and I can control the amount of sugar.

To make freezer jam, purchase a pectin that can be used for freezer jam and follow the directions found on the package. The directions follow this general formula:
  1. Wash and hull the strawberries.
  2. Mash berries one layer at a time using a potato masher until you have the required amount.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin.
  4. Add fruit and stir to thoroughly combine.
  5. Spoon jam into jars or containers, leaving at least 1/2 inch head space to allow for expansion.
  6. Cover and let sit for the prescribed amount of time. (24 hours for Sure-Jell, 30 minutes for Ball)
  7. Freeze jam until ready to use.
I always used Sure-Jell pectin and have had success with both their original and low-sugar versions. But if you're making a lot of jam, the cost of all that pectin adds up fast. Last summer I did some price comparisons and discovered that the Ball brand carries Instant Pectin for freezer jam in a bulk container (makes at least 15 half-pints of jam). The best part about this pectin is that it's  "instant," which means I don't even have to cook the strawberries. No cook means less time, less mess, and even fresher taste. And it's easy enough that even 2-year-old Kiddo could help mash and stir.

Now, what are you waiting for? Head over to your local berry farm (or farmer's market), pick a few pounds, and get freezing! Capture the sweetness of summer and enjoy it year-round.

Have you ever frozen berries or made freezer jam? What's your favorite?


  1. Mmmmmm. I LOVE strawberry freezer jam! It doesn't last as long in the fridge as store-bought jam, but you can freeze it in small containers, which is what I've done in the past. I like your suggestion of mashing the strawberries one layer at a time. I always find it hard to get them uniformly smooshed, so that would definitely help!

    1. Sorry I didn't comment before! Somehow I missed it.
      As for spoilage, I'm pretty sure Hubby's grandma keeps her freezer jam in the freezer all the time. She lets it sit on the counter for a few minutes before using it and then puts it back when she's done. That's another option if you're having spoilage issues.

  2. Oh! And I love putting [previously] frozen berries in my pancakes or on waffles with whipped cream -- especially a mixture of raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Yum.

    1. Excellent idea! I just used frozen berries in Baked Berry French Toast and it turned out really well!

  3. Perfect timing for strawberries since they are at the peak of picking right now in CT. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kathy! I'm a huge fan of your site and was actually just there this morning doing some research for one of our hens who has been under the weather.
      Enjoy the fresh strawberries! Where we live, the season is pretty much over. I actually grew up in CT, between Waterbury and Danbury. I wonder if we could have been neighbors. :)


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