Strawberries taste best when fresh and sweet. But to enjoy this delicious and delicate fruit throughout the year, you can also freeze them. Considering the taste and nutrients this bright red, juicy fruit provides, we have compiled some facts on how to freeze strawberries the right way.
Freezing strawberries at home is better and more cost-efficient than buying them from the store off-season. Strawberries are sensitive to both cold and heat, and so they need to be carefully stored. So, how do you store fresh strawberries? Read on to find out.
How to Freeze Strawberries in 6 Easy Ways
When you freeze strawberries, it is obvious that you will have to compromise on quality. Thawed strawberries will be softer and darker in color. The taste and texture will also change.
Before you freeze strawberries, you need to ensure they are firm. They shouldn’t show any discoloration, or have any cuts, blemishes, or mold. Wash the fruit and pat them dry. If they aren’t completely dried, the water will freeze and make the strawberries hard.
Here are six methods on how to freeze strawberries.
1. Freezing whole strawberries
If you are wondering how to freeze strawberries without sugar, here is one simple method. Slice the stems such that the berries can stand on the top as a base. Then, simply place them in the freezer bags. To store strawberries for a longer period of time, remove as much air as possible from the bags and then store. Removing the air from the bags will prevent freezer burn, and keep the berries fresh.
When strawberries are stored in plastic bags or containers, they may stick together. So, how to freeze strawberries without them sticking together? On a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, place the strawberries with the cut side down. To preserve their red color, you can add a little lemon juice. Place the sheet in the freezer until the strawberries freeze. Then, transfer the frozen strawberries to covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.
Freezing strawberries for jam is quite simple. Simply thaw them out prior to crushing and measuring them. If you are using sweetened strawberries, add less sugar than required for the jam recipe.
2. Sugar pack method
Another method in how to freeze strawberries is to slice them up and sprinkle them with sugar. But how much sugar do you need to freeze strawberries? Simply, add half a cup of sugar for each quart (946 grams) of the fruit. Stir gently to dissolve the sugar, without damaging the fruit. Place them in a freezer-safe container. Seal it and then freeze.
Slicing the berries and covering them in brown sugar will also help increase their storage period up to six months. You can also use caster or superfine sugar, or honey. Add these chopped berries to plain, low-fat yogurt, a bowl of oatmeal, or baking recipes.
3. Sugar syrup method
Hull the strawberries and put them in a plastic container. Boil together one part sugar to four parts water. Chill the syrup and pour it over the strawberries. Using this method, these fruits can be stored up to six months. For additional flavoring, you can add orange zest, green cardamom pods, or vanilla bean. You can spoon the strawberries over yogurt or ice cream, and have it as a dessert.
4. Puréed strawberries
Wash and hull the strawberries. Purée them in a blender. Pour the purée in ice cube trays or plastic containers, and freeze them. After freezing the puréed strawberries, you can store them for up to six months. You can add the puréed strawberries to smoothies.
5. Ice cube method
Know how to freeze strawberries with this easy method. Choose strawberries that can fit into an ice cube tray when halved. Wash and hull the strawberries. Halve them and put each half into the squares of the ice cube tray. Fill it with water. You can also substitute the water with lemonade, and have a refreshing summer treat. Using this method, you can freeze the strawberries for up to two months.
6. Dry ice method
Wash and hull the strawberries. Crush a block of dry ice. In a metal bowl, mix the strawberries with the dry ice. Put the bowl in a cooler for 20 minutes with the lid open, leaving a gap to allow pressure to escape. The dry ice may crack the plastic of the cooler, so to avoid this from happening, put a towel under the bowl. Then, place the strawberries in a freezer bag (you can store it for up to six months).
Are Frozen Strawberries Healthy?
Now that you know how to freeze strawberries, you are probably wondering if frozen strawberries are healthy. A 100-gram serving of sweetened, frozen strawberries contains 96 calories. The total carbohydrate content is 26 grams, consisting of 24 grams of sugar and two grams of dietary fiber. On the other hand, unsweetened strawberries contain only 35 calories and five grams of sugar in a 100-gram serving. There isn’t much difference in nutritional value between sweetened and unsweetened strawberries.
Consuming high amounts of sugar leads to obesity and a number of other health issues. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the consumption of added sugar to six teaspoons per day for women, and nine teaspoons per day for men.
Strawberries contain 69% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. This vitamin helps boost the immune system, and combats free radicals that can cause cancer or cardiovascular diseases. It also helps to improve skin, teeth, and gum health.
These fruits are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, and folate. The high-fiber content in strawberries relieves constipation. Eating unsweetened strawberries as a snack is always better than consuming other nutrient-deficient and high-calorie junk foods.
Being highly perishable, strawberries are picked just before they are completely ripe. They are generally transported from distant places, and may lose nutrients when exposed to heat and light.
How Long Can You Freeze Strawberries For?
Strawberries don’t ripen after picking. So, it is necessary to chose red, ripe, and firm berries for freezing, juicing, or canning. How long you can freeze strawberries depends on many factors.
If you pick them immediately after harvest, they are the best. Other factors include storage conditions and ripeness. Before refrigeration, you should throw away bruised or moldy strawberries.
1. Room temperature
Strawberries are easily perishable. If stored at room temperature, these fruits should be consumed on the same day.
You can refrigerate strawberries in a plastic clamshell container, or in a shallow container covered with plastic wrap. You can also place them in single layers in between paper towels, and then cover them with plastic wrap. The strawberries should keep between three and seven days in the refrigerator using these methods.
Freezing strawberries increases their storage life compared to the other two methods. Strawberries retain their nutritional quality when stored properly up to six months.
How to Defrost Frozen Strawberries?
Now that you know how to freeze strawberries, you should know how to defrost them. Defrosting them correctly is necessary to get juicy strawberries. Running them under cold water will result in soggy and mushy strawberries. Frozen berries will be juicier and softer than the fresh ones.
Here are three ways to defrost strawberries. You can choose any one depending on your time constraints.
Put the frozen strawberries in a secure plastic bag or lidded plastic container, and put them in the refrigerator. According to the California Strawberry Commission, defrosting strawberries in the refrigerator is the most preferred method. This method can take six to 15 hours, depending on the size and quantity of strawberries. Put the strawberry container in another container filled with cold water. This will decrease the defrosting time.
2. Leave them at room temperature
Line the strawberries in a single layer on a plate, and leave it on the counter to defrost the strawberries at room temperature. Don’t line the plate with paper towels as they will absorb all the juices. The time required to defrost strawberries in this way varies depending on the room temperature, but may take about 45 minutes.
Place the strawberries on a microwave-safe plate, and put it in the microwave. Set the microwave to defrost, and keep checking the strawberries after each minute, until thawed. Please note that this method will result in mushy strawberries.
In terms of science, when you freeze a fruit, you are actually freezing the water inside its cells. As we all know, most fruits and vegetables have a high water content. Water expands when cooled, and thus, ruptures the cell walls of fruit when frozen. Therefore, when thawed, these fruits become mushy as they lack the structural support of water in the cells.
When freezing strawberries, preset the freezer to zero degree temperature. Make sure there’s no temperature fluctuation, or too much handling of the fruit. Since cryogenic bacteria can survive in a cold environment, some fruits might look perished once they are thawed.
Now that you know how to freeze strawberries, you can enjoy them for a longer time. You can make strawberry milk, bake a fruit cobbler, make strawberry sauce, or enjoy it any way you like. However, be aware of the sugar content, and opt for unsweetened strawberries—especially if you are a diabetic. Although their shelf life is less than that of the sweetened ones, you can eat strawberries without having to worry about your health and weight.
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