Short & Sweet: Preserving the Strawberry Harvest

Sweet and juicy, with an unmistakable texture and fragrance, strawberries are one of the most anticipated fruits of late spring and summer. They are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Strawberries are also an excellent source of vitamin C and iodine and contain potassium, folate, B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin K.

With over 600 varieties out there, there’s no shortage of strawberries to fill your berry basket. Locally grown June bearing and everbearing varieties are particularly delicate and delicious. But these gems don’t last long. Get ’em while you can. Here are some recipes to process and preserve their tasty flavors throughout the year:

Freezing Strawberries in a Snap

Photo: thespruceeats.com

Aside from making strawberry preserves, one of the best ways to preserve whole strawberries is in your freezer. That way, you can defrost and use them in recipes for smoothies, jam, pie, cobbler, muffins, and more. Find the ripest, sweetest berries possible for freezing.

  • Wash the strawberries and let them drain for a few minutes in a colander. Use a spoon to gently hull the berries (remove the green stem or calyx) to preserve as much of the fruit as possible. Leave very small berries whole and cut larger berries into halves or quarters, to ensure a uniform size.
  • Spread the cleaned and drained strawberries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the fruit in the freezer, uncovered, for two hours. This step reduces clumping and ensures that the berries will remain separate once they are frozen.
  • Transfer the frozen berries to freezer bags or containers. Label and date the bags or containers. You can store strawberries in the freezer for up to six months. They are still safe to eat after that, but their quality starts to diminish.

 

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Recipe adapted from thespruceeats.com

This simple strawberry jam can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or processed in a water bath for longer storage. It’s a soft-set jam that will drip from a spoon. Serve it on bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, English muffins, scones, ice cream, cakes, and French toast. Adjust the sweetness or tartness by increasing or decreasing the amount of sugar or lemon juice used. Or add different types of fresh berries, such as: blueberries, blackberries or raspberries.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries (washed and hulled)
  • 3 cups sugar (or substitute) – more or less, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions:

In a large bowl, crush the berries in batches and transfer to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan after each batch has been crushed. Add sugar and lemon juice to strawberries. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring strawberry mixture to a full rolling boil while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and continue to boil until mixture reaches 220 degrees F, stirring frequently.

For Fridge/Freezer Storage: If you plan to consume the jam within 2 weeks, transfer jam to canning jars. Wait until it has cooled before sealing and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, or in the freezer for up to one year.

For Water Bath Method: If you want to process in a water bath for long-term storage, transfer jam to hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Cover with hot sterilized lids and rings. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove to counter and allow to cool before storing in a cool, dry, dark place.

 

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

Recipe & Photo from strongertogether.coop

Perfect for a light lunch with salad and crackers, this gazpacho looks lovely served in a wide-mouthed tumbler or martini glass. Garnish soup with freshly-snipped chives or a pinch of cracked black pepper. This soup is at its refreshing best when served just under room temperature. Refrigerate the fruit and vegetables shortly before blending if you plan to serve it immediately.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber (peeled and seeded)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: 1 fresh jalapeño, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender, in small batches if necessary. Stir well and taste for salt.

Chocolate Strawberry Fool

Recipe & Photo from strongertogether.coop

An easy and elegant parfait makes any meal or occasion just a little more special.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold

Directions:

Place 1 cup of strawberries in a small bowl and add the sugar and vanilla extract. Mash the strawberries into small pieces using a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pour the cold whipping cream into a cold, medium-sized bowl. Using a beater, whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Fold the mashed strawberries and 3/4 of the chocolate into the whipped cream.

Using a tablespoon, fill a wide-mouth glass (such as a martini glass or tumbler) 1/3 full with the whipped cream, then top with a layer of sliced strawberries. Repeat with more whipped cream and another layer of strawberries. Top with remaining whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.