At some point, maybe now when the late varieties start showing up, you’ll wipe the juice from your chin and realize time is running out. In just a few short days you’ll be staring down a whole ‘nother year before you’ll have local strawberries again. No need to panic, just grab the freezer bags.
A lot of you are probably old hands at this but this blog is also for my young friends just starting out, so if this is old news I promise another strawberry dessert next post.
My grandmother had a little metal pincher to cut/pulled the green top off each berry. They’re probably still around but I haven’t seen one in years. Later on I learned another way to clean strawberries from The Joy of Cooking. The Rombauers promised that if you took the time to core them they would taste better. I agree.
Carefully pour your berries into a colander and swish them repeatedly under cold water. I let them dry a bit at this point.
Then insert a short, sharp paring knife at a 45-degree-ish angle under the green leaves. Turn the knife in a circle to core the berry. It feels a little funny the first time, but after you get it down it will go just as fast or faster as cutting the tops off. Plus, you keep as much of the berry intact as possible.
One more note, I never refrigerate fresh, cleaned strawberries because I think it kills the flavor. I just make sure to use them up quickly. I do, from time to time, refrigerate sliced and sugared berries – but only for as short a period as possible.
After your berries are clean you have to decide how you want to freeze them. For long-term storage I like the sliced-berry method because they resist getting dry and crystallized.
Whole Berries: Line cookie sheets with waxed paper. Spread the berries out in a single layer. When the berries are frozen solid put them in bags, remove as much air as possible, and freeze.
Sliced Berries: Slice and/or quarter the berries as desired. Mix the berries with some sugar, using about 1/3 c. sugar per quart of berries.
When the berries have accumulated a little juice, put two cups in each quart-size freezer bag. Press them out into an even thin layer, removing as much air as possible, and seal.
Lay them flat in your freezer until solid, and store.
We’ll be using some frozen berries later on in recipes, but if you want to use them earlier you can thaw them in cold water or just leave them out on the counter