Here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s strawberry season. Generally, strawberry season starts the first half of June, but since we had cooler weather this spring, the strawberries were late.
Now I haven’t had the pleasure of having fresh, I mean really fresh, strawberries since I moved to Arizona 14 years ago. It’s just not the same buying strawberries shipped a few days before, from out of state. The flavor just can’t compare! So I was excited to be able to get some this year. I skipped the u-pick and just went to the roadside fruit stands!
I ended up getting 4 flats, that’s about 48 lbs. this year! One thing I have really missed is homemade strawberry jam, not that I eat a lot of jam, but it has been a favorite for as long as I can remember. And I wanted to make sure that I could give some strawberry jam away at Christmas as well.
Another reason I got so many strawberries was so that I could freeze them too! My husband and I love to make protein smoothies, and we usually use frozen fruit to make them. So I have been preparing and vacuum sealing and freezing the strawberries (those that don’t make it into my tummy, that is!)
This is how I prepare my strawberries, so they don’t end up a mashed up mess in the freezer.
First I wash and hull (remove the stem from) the strawberries and cut off any soft spots. I use a sink of cool water, and only put a few in the water at at time. This keeps them from getting soft.
I then took the clean strawberries and laid them out on the pan. I made sure that they weren’t dripping in water, but have drained a little after washing, before I did this.
I then place the tray on a flat surface in my freezer, and leave them overnight. This usually assures me that they are hard as a rock, so that I can vacuum seal them without mashing them.
The next morning I set up my vacuum sealer and get the quart size bags that I am using ready. I set up first so that the berries don’t thaw at all before I get them sealed and back into the freezer. I then remove the strawberries from the freezer.
I fill up my quart bags, this tray gives me 4 quarts. I then seal them (you see a paper towel inside the top of the bag, habit to insert one when sealing), write the contents and the date with a permanent marker, and ta da! They’re done!
Next, I’ll share my strawberry jam! I sort of experimented with a new type of pectin (new to me that is) and I’ll share what I found out!