You're spending a leisurely Sunday ambling through a farmers market when you spot punnets of strawberries that look like they are straight out of a fairytale. Shaped almost like love hearts, they are rosy red and look juicy and sweet with a gorgeous green top showing how fresh they are. There is something almost magical about the way ripe strawberries look and taste, so you'll be forgiven for buying as many as you can, after you've chosen the best strawberries, of course. Once you've enjoyed a scoop of homemade strawberry ice cream or a slice of strawberry pie and made strawberry salad for lunch, you may want to freeze whatever berries you've got left so you can enjoy them when the summer is long gone.
It's always handy to have some helpful tips on how to prep fresh strawberries so they can be frozen solid. You're going to need to know how to freeze fruit to make sure that your strawberries don't lose their best qualities or stick together in an icy clump. Beyond this, you might want some inspiration on how you can use your strawberries straight from the freezer without having to defrost them beforehand. And if you do want to thaw them out, what's the right way?
Here are some frozen strawberry hacks you'll love. All you need now are some fresh strawberries to freeze, or you can take a shortcut and buy some frozen berries from the store.
Read more: 10 Fruit Hacks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner
Clean With Salt Water
How do you clean your strawberries? Do you give them a quick rinse under the faucet or soak them in water? Whether you're eating them fresh or prepping them for the freezer, one of the best strawberry hacks you'll love is soaking the berries in saltwater. There's been a lot of attention on social media about this cleaning method. The reason is that saltwater is regarded by many as the best way to make sure there aren't any bugs lurking in the fruit. As off-putting as it sounds, evidence has surfaced of bugs emerging from berries left in the salty water after 10 to 30 minutes. There's only one way to test this theory out.
If you soak the strawberries in regular water, you may notice some fruit flies or other bugs appearing. The salt in the water speeds up this process. If this all sounds a bit yucky, then you might want to consider removing the green tops before washing as these could be where the unwanted guests are lurking. Aside from this, it makes sense to ensure your strawberries are super-clean before freezing anyway. Dirt from the ground or from being transported can easily stick to the fruit, and depending on where strawberries are from, you might want to rinse off any chemicals, such as pesticides.
Hull And Dry Before Freezing
Once you've washed fresh strawberries for freezing, your next step is to dry them. It's not enough to just shake them. If they're a little wet when you freeze them, you won't get defined-looking strawberries when you defrost them; they'll turn mushy. If you are using them while they are frozen and throwing them in a blender, you're not going to be bothered about whether they are a bit misshapen. However, you still need to get rid of the water beforehand as it will dilute the taste of the berries. After washing, spread the strawberries out on a kitchen towel, and leave them to dry at room temperature for up to an hour.
Once they are dry, it's time to hull your strawberries by removing the green leafy stem and the white part in the center. Don't hull the fruit before washing as water will pool in the dip left from hulling. If you don't have a huller, twist the stem while pushing down a little to dislodge the inner piece. Be firm but not heavy-handed to avoid tearing off the stem or gouging the fruits. If you're not so deft with your fingers, use a small paring knife. Point it down into the top of a strawberry near the stem, and use a cutting motion all around to loosen what you need to remove. You might find this a lot easier with larger strawberries and a bit fiddly with little ones.
Slice And Freeze
When you are prepping fresh strawberries so that you can freeze them, make sure you keep in mind how you are going to be using them in the future. If you know that you'll be thawing them out before using them in a dessert or smoothie, then you don't need to cut them up. Of course, you might prefer to slice them if they fit better in a container and take up less room in your freezer. It might be worth keeping a few strawberries whole and cutting any others, whether you halve them, cut them into quarters, or slice them.
Consider slicing your strawberries before freezing if you want to use them like this while they are frozen. It's way easier to slice the soft fruit while the berries are fresh. Slicing them when they are frozen and rock-hard isn't easy to do, and there's no point freezing them whole unless you need to. You can layer strawberry slices in a container far more easily than whole ones too, making freezer bags less bulky.
Freeze Fresh Strawberries In A Single Layer
When you've got a big punnet of fresh strawberries to freeze, don't just tip them into a freezer-friendly container or bag. If you do, you may face frustration later when the frozen berries stick together. You might be able to gently but firmly pry them apart, but if they seem like they are welded together, detaching them is not going to be easy. You could try the classic technique that many people have tried at some point or another, which involves bashing an icy block of food until it separates. You've only got yourself to blame if you end up with frozen strawberries flying all over the place, though. What you need is one of those strawberry hacks you'll love once you know it.
The solution is simple: freeze strawberries in a single layer before storing them together. This method of flash freezing means that by the time you bag them up, the fruit will be frozen solid and won't clump together. If you have a lot of fruit to freeze, this could take time. You want to space out the whole strawberries or fruity slices. If they are touching, then they might stick to each other. Each batch could take several hours to fully freeze, but it's worth it. Once they are frozen, you can tip the frozen berries into one bag together, making sure to expel any air, and stash in your freezer.
Freeze Strawberries In Sugar
If you want to increase the sweetness of strawberries, you can freeze them with sugar. You can also use caster sugar (also called superfine sugar) or a sugar substitute such as stevia. This is a great hack to use if you don't want to freeze the strawberries individually before bagging them up or simply don't have the time or the freezer space to do so. Sprinkle the berries with sugar, and gently mix together until the sugar pretty much dissolves without mushing up the fruit. Although you can't see many of the crystals, they will still prevent the strawberries from sticking together inside a freezer bag.
Sugared frozen strawberries are ideal for use in desserts that need an added sugary taste. They also work in recipes where you don't want any extra liquid, which would be the case if you used syrup. Whether you cut the berries or keep them whole is up to you. As a guideline, you can add around a half cup of sugar per quart of fresh strawberries. You can also add layers of strawberries to a freezer-proof tub, sprinkling each with sugar. Be careful moving the container before the fruit is frozen as you want the sugar to stay in place, covering every piece of fruit. Freeze in the coldest part of the freezer, or change the setting to speed up the freezing for a couple of hours. The strawberries will freeze in a better condition if they are frozen quickly.
Freeze Strawberries In Syrup
What is more yummy than sweet strawberries in a sugary sauce drizzled over pancakes or waffles in the morning? The burst of berry flavor is light and refreshing. And when strawberries are frozen in syrup, they turn into a dreamy topping too. You can use frozen strawberries and syrup to make jams and ice cream. By freezing the fruit in a liquid, you create a juicy strawberry delight. You can make the syrup yourself by heating sugar in water until it dissolves. You'll need to let this cool down, though, before pouring it over your strawberries. As well as boasting a great taste, the syrup freezes around the berries, preserving their shape and stopping the redness from dulling.
In terms of quantity of sugar, that's really your call, but try equal amounts of water and sugar first, or start with a less sweet mix and adjust accordingly. You can use honey instead of sugar too, and a squirt of lime before freezing adds a citrusy hit that balances the sweetness. If you need guidance on how much liquid to make, you're looking at about half a cup for every pint of fresh strawberries. If you are using canning jars, don't fill them all the way up to the top. Leave a little space above the syrupy mixture. A good tip is to freeze in small containers so that when you want to use the strawberry syrup, you won't have to defrost too much at once.
Turn Them Into Ice Cubes
While you are exploring what to do with frozen strawberries recipe-wise, you could consider different ways of freezing them. A visually lovely way to enjoy frozen fruit is having them encased in a crystal-clear block of ice. Imagine a garden party serving sparkling water or flutes of bubbly with a few strawberry ice cubes bobbing about. They are pretty, add a subtle sweet flavor, and elevate drinks for a sophisticated event or special occasion. They are fun, romantic, and super-easy to make. Just add some clean slices of strawberry to an ice cube tray, fill it with water, and freeze. Use bottled water for clearer ice to really make your fruity beverage art sparkle. You can also add blended strawberries if you want a pure pink cube. Or what about adding strawberries along with cucumber pieces and some mint leaves? Sounds perfect for a fruity drink like Pimms.
If you don't want ice cubes to water down drinks, then ditch the ice and drop a few frozen strawberries in instead. If you're starting with fresh fruit, then an hour in the freezer should suffice to make the berries nice and cold. They will add a dash of fruity flavor and keep drinks cool without adding lots of watery ice to weaken the taste. The only issue might be the temptation to eat the berries before a drink is finished. If you're the host, you can always top glasses up with more frozen fruit.
Grate To Make A Daiquiri
A fabulous way to enjoy the icy, sweet taste of frozen strawberries is in a cocktail glass. A fruity daiquiri is refreshing and gives you a boozy hit too, and it's super easy to make. Grab a glass and literally grate your frozen strawberries straight into it until it's full. Use the small holes on a grater to get fine iced shavings. Add a good shot of rum, and voila, you've got a delicious cocktail you can sip at or enjoy with a spoon like a dessert.
Make a frozen strawberry daiquiri for two with a pound of frozen strawberries. Add these to a blender along with a cup of ice and five tablespoons of sugar syrup to bring out the sweetness. You can add more if you like a sweeter taste or less if the fruit is especially sugary. Add the juice of a lime, and blitz with a cup of white rum. Pour the alcoholic slushie into daiquiri glasses if you have them, and add a wedge of lime as a garnish. Make this into a mocktail by leaving out the rum if you prefer.
Make An Icy Dessert
There is nothing wrong with strawberries and cream or a British-style scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam. And strawberry cheesecake has to be an all-time favorite. If you want an ice-cold sweet taste, then you could opt for strawberry ice cream, but one of the easiest desserts to make is a strawberry sorbet. Throw a few frozen strawberries in a blender, and add some freshly squeezed lime juice. Pulse it until the fruit is mashed up and looks lovely and smooth. Pour it into a serving bowl and enjoy. For a variation, blend frozen strawberries with lemon juice along with honey or agave. Spoon the sorbet into scooped-out lemon halves, and freeze until set for a cute way to serve this classic palate cleanser.
If you love the sensation of eating ice crystals, then you're going to love strawberry rosé granita. You make it with fresh strawberries, but you freeze all the ingredients to make this dessert. Heat rosé wine with sugar in a pan. Once the sugar has dissolved, set this to cool before adding it to a blender with some strawberries. Strain the mixture to remove the seeds. Freeze the remaining liquid in a dish, and use a fork to scrape the ice and break it up to make a shredded frozen strawberry dessert. For another sweet treat, try shaving frozen strawberries with a fine grater, adding a swirl of condensed milk, and topping with crushed peanuts for a creamy, fruity, nutty taste.
Grind Frozen Strawberries
Adding frozen strawberry bits into a recipe is definitely going to add a fruity taste. However, you can boost the strawberry taste without adding pieces of the fruit. One cool way to do this is to grind frozen strawberries into a powder. The easiest way to do this is to slowly run a rolling pin back and forth over a freezer bag full of the whole berries. Because they are brittle when they are frozen, they will smash up and turn into a powdery consistency. You can then use this in plenty of dishes to add flavor.
If you're looking for inspiration, consider making strawberry nougat as you use the frozen fruit in two different ways. Melt marshmallows in butter, and add to the gooey mix some frozen strawberry powder that's been mixed with some milk powder. Once the mixture looks more like putty, mix in whole frozen strawberries along with almonds. Choose berries that aren't too big so that you can use more, and press down the nougat in a tray so it's evenly spread out. Once it's set, cut it into slices and enjoy. You can use the powder in so many other ways, too, such as adding to yogurt to make a parfait or to milk to make a smoothie.
Dehydrate Frozen Strawberries
What is it about dehydrated fruit that's so ridiculously moreish? They last for a long time, around a year, which is certainly way longer than fresh fruit. And they also make for great snacks. Although strawberries contain natural sugars, as all fruit does, they are relatively low in sugar, and because they are a low glycemic index food, they prevent blood sugar and insulin levels from spiking. Did you know that not only can you dehydrate these beautiful berries at home, but you can also do so using frozen strawberries as well as fresh ones?
Since you want to end up with dried strawberry chips, it's best to use frozen slices rather than whole fruit. If you don't have a dehydrator, then you can use your oven instead. Set the temperature as low as it will go and add a layer of frozen strawberry slices to a lined baking tray. Cover with some parchment paper and pop in the oven to dry out for a couple of hours. Turn each slice, and put the tray back into the heat for another 30 minutes. If they're not quite crisp enough, warm them for longer, but do keep checking every quarter of an hour or so as you don't want them to burn. In a dehydrator set at 125 degrees Fahrenheit, you can dry out frozen strawberry slices for anywhere from eight hours to 48 hours. You can rehydrate the crunchy fruit in warm or cold water.
Thaw In The Refrigerator
In the U.S., strawberries are in season somewhere most of the year. The peak times depend on location, with the Southern states showing off their ripe fruit earlier than other parts of the country, no doubt because of the warmer weather. If you buy some local fruit when it's ripe and at its best, this is the time to freeze it. What's great about strawberries is that not only can you freeze them, but you can also use them in plenty of recipes when they are frozen without having to thaw them out. However, if you want to defrost them, the trick is doing so without them turning into a pulpy mess.
The best way to thaw out frozen strawberries is in the refrigerator. It's true that the fruit will thaw quicker outside the fridge at room temperature. However, the cool temperature and slower thawing in the fridge preserve the texture and shape of the berry and stop it from over-softening. Another important point is that the cooler temperature also stops bacteria from growing on the fruit. Take the berries out of the freezer the night before, or at least six hours in advance, to properly thaw them in the refrigerator.
Read the original article on Mashed.