Summer is a season with the sweet, juicy taste of freshly picked strawberries. Depending on where you live in the country, strawberry season will start early in the year in southern states like Florida and Texas and will start by May/June throughout the rest of the country.
Early summer is a fun time to get out and pick fresh strawberries at your local u-pick farm. This is a family tradition we do every year with our children and it’s something they look forward to every year.
With many kids in our family we find that we over-pick and have more strawberries than we know what to do with! It’s a good problem to have because strawberries are one of those fruits you can preserve and use at a later date.
Strawberries can be used in many different recipes from salads, scones, pies, breakfast cereals, smoothies, snacking and the list goes on!
How can you make strawberries last longer?
This article presents a variety of tried and tested methods for preserving strawberries, giving them an extended shelf life while maintaining their delicious flavor.
Freshness Duration For Newly Picked Strawberries
First, it’s essential to understand how long freshly picked strawberries will stay good before any preservation techniques are applied.
Ideally, strawberries should be eaten within a few days of being picked. If stored in the refrigerator, they can last between five to seven days.
However, this can vary depending on the freshness of the strawberries when picked and the conditions in which they are stored.
When we pick strawberries the first thing we do is sort them and check for any bad berries. You don’t want any bad strawberries being stored with the good berries.
The freshness of your strawberries will be affected if you have a few bad berries in the mix, or a few that are close to molding.
We put them in a clean bowl and put them into our refrigerator.
Simple Storage Tips For Your Strawberries
Strawberries are delicate, and their freshness can be affected by heat, humidity, and rough handling. Even pulling them off their stems can cause them to become squishy and moist. If you store wet strawberries they will mold much faster – so make sure you remove any ‘moist’ or squished berries from the rest of the pack.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your freshly picked strawberries remain fresh for as long as possible:
- Do Not Wash Immediately: Wait to wash strawberries until just before you are ready to use them. Moisture encourages mold growth, which can make your strawberries spoil faster. If you have children like we do, make sure you look through all of your strawberries because the little ones in your family may have squished some of the berries while they were being picked.
- Store In The Refrigerator: Place your strawberries in a breathable container (like a colander) in the refrigerator to prolong their freshness. A paper towel can be placed at the bottom to absorb any extra moisture.
- Avoid Stacking: Strawberries should be stored in a single layer, if possible, to avoid bruising and mold development. If you have a small refrigerator like we do, we just keep them in a bowl and they are stacked but we know we have a few days to use them before they start to go bad.
- Remove Spoiled Berries: If you notice any strawberries going bad, remove them immediately. One spoiled strawberry can lead to the spoilage of others.
Freezing Strawberries: A Go-To Preservation Method
Freezing is one of the most popular methods of preserving strawberries. It is a simple and effective way to maintain the flavor and nutritional value of the fruit for up to 12 months.
Here is a step-by-step guide to freezing your strawberries:
- Rinse the strawberries gently under cold water.
- Pat them dry thoroughly with a clean towel.
- Hull the strawberries – remove the green leafy top and the white core.
- Lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer, ensuring they are not touching.
- Freeze them for several hours or until completely frozen.
- Once frozen, transfer the strawberries to a freezer-safe bag or container. Make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.
If you are in a rush or don’t want to take the time to lay the strawberries on parchment paper, you can skip that step and just put them into bags and freeze them.
With having many children we always have more strawberries than we know what to do with before they start going bad. So we tend to freeze at least half of our picked strawberries. We put them into gallon size zip lock bags after cleaning them and making sure they are dry.
Strawberry Jams & Jellies: For Long-Term Storage
Canning strawberries can preserve their sweet, sun-kissed flavor for up to a year or even longer.
Whether you prefer a simple strawberry jam or a whole-fruit preserve, canning requires a bit of time and preparation but yields rewarding results.
There are many different types of strawberry jam and jelly recipes that you can follow that will also guide you on canning.
Dehydrating Strawberries: For an On-the-Go Snacking
Dehydrating strawberries is another great preservation method. It not only extends their shelf life, but also provides a healthy, convenient snack option.
Dehydrated strawberries can be enjoyed on their own, added to granola or oatmeal, or used in baking.
This method isn’t as popular as it requires more time than other methods of strawberry preservation. You can use this guide from the University of Minnesota on how to dehydrate strawberries from home.
Making Strawberry Syrup or Compote
Preserving strawberries as a syrup or compote is a delicious and versatile method. You can use this sweet syrup on pancakes, in cocktails, or as a base for desserts.
There are many ways to extend the life of your freshly picked strawberries and we hope that this article has given you some ideas on what you can do!
Get out this year and visit and support your local u-pick farms. You can easily find a u-pick strawberry farm in your area by using our directory.