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It’s Strawberry Season!!

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 wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss any of them, and I wasn’t sure how many there would be with the late spring crop.

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 get out a flat pan with a lip on it.  A cookies sheet or jelly roll pan works great for this.

Note:  if your freezer space can’t handle a pan this size, be sure to select one that will fit on a shelf in your freezer.  You may have to use several pans to to it this way.

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 try to keep my strawberries whole if possible.  Any that I have to cut I usually set aside for my jam.  They usually need to be used right away (or I eat them lol!).

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.

They immediately get a frosty look to them, it was so cold in 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!

I then run them to the freezer!  To date, I have 12 quart bags.

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!

Thanks for coming by!