Simple methods for how to store and preserve freshly picked strawberries to last the longest!
The Joy of Strawberry Season
I love to go strawberry picking in the early spring with my two boys. But this usually means an abundance of strawberries that we cannot eat before they go bad! There are several ways to store and preserve freshly picked strawberries so that they will not go bad! My favorite ways to store strawberries long-term are freezing, dehydrating, and canning them into jams.
It’s always a joy to pick the freshest, juiciest berries in the peak season. However, knowing the best way to store and preserve these beautiful berries is essential to ensure they stay delicious for later use and to prevent food waste. Therefore, I want to share some simple tips and effective methods for storing and preserving freshly picked strawberries, so you can enjoy them for as long as possible.
Preparing Strawberries for Storage
The most important step to make strawberries left is actually to know the best time to pick the strawberries. Everything after that is a bonus!
Once you have your strawberries in hand. carefully inspect the berries, removing any moldy or damaged ones, as they can cause others to spoil more quickly. By avoiding the premature washing of the strawberries, excess moisture is prevented, lowering the risk of mold growth and extending their shelf life. This simple step sets the groundwork for effective storage methods, ensuring that only the best berries are preserved for later use.
Why Not to Wash Strawberries Before Storing
Washing the strawberries introduces excess moisture, which can lead to mold growth and a shorter shelf life. The excess moisture creates an environment where mold spores thrive, causing the berries to spoil more quickly. To keep those juicy berries fresh for longer, it’s best to refrain from washing them until you’re ready to use them. This simple step can make a big difference in maintaining the quality of your strawberries and reducing food waste.
The Vinegar Bath: An Optional Step
In a large bowl, mix one part white vinegar with three parts water. After giving the strawberries a gentle soak in this solution for a few minutes, drain them in a colander, and then lay them out on a layer of paper towels to air dry. This simple yet effective step helps to kill any lingering mold spores and bacteria, extending the strawberries’ shelf life and keeping them mold-free for longer.
Strawberry Storage and Preservation Options
Storing Strawberries in the Refrigerator
Storing strawberries in the refrigerator with paper towels and shallow containers can keep them fresh for a few days.
Keeping unwashed strawberries stored in the original packaging or the crate they came in is the best way to keep strawberries fresh in the fridge.
Why Air Circulation Matters
The importance of air circulation cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to storing freshly picked strawberries. When strawberries are placed in a single layer, the air can flow around each berry, preventing the build-up of excess moisture and potential mold growth. This method is crucial in maintaining the strawberries’ freshness for a longer period.
Without adequate air circulation, the strawberries could retain excess moisture, which creates an environment conducive to mold growth and hastens spoilage. By allowing air to circulate around each berry, the risk of mold growth decreases, and the strawberries stay fresh for a longer time.
Sometimes we cannot help ourselves. Our family might be more likely to eat already washed and/or cut strawberries if they are ready to go, and I totally get that!
If you do wash them, dry them completely and put them in a glass air-tight container lined with a paper towel. You can follow the complete guide on how to wash and store fresh strawberries by The Cross Legacy on YouTube. She suggests an airtight mason jar with a paper towel on the bottom.
Whether washed or unwashed, storing strawberries in the crisper drawer can help prevent moldy berries by regulating humidity.
Freezing Strawberries for Long-Term Storage
My favorite ways to store strawberries long-term are freezing, dehydrating, and canning them into jams.
The best method involves using freezer bags and a baking sheet. First, cut the strawberries into halves or quarters. You CAN freeze whole strawberries, but I find them harder to use when I want to make smoothies. Next, lay the freshly picked strawberries flat on a cookie sheet to let them freeze individually. This step is crucial in preventing the berries from clumping together once frozen.
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After they are frozen solid, usually in about 2 hours, transfer them into the freezer bags, making sure to remove excess air before sealing. My favorites are the large silicone Stasher bags. This method ensures that I have delicious strawberries ready for later use without any clumping or freezer burn.
Making Jam: A Delicious Preservation Method
Making jam means you can store your strawberries right on the shelf for 18 months!
Canning jam is actually super simple. After removing the green tops, cut the berries, and place them in a large, heavy saucepan. Add an equal amount of sugar and allow the mixture to sit for an hour to draw out the juices.
Next, bring the strawberries and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the jam thickens, ensuring to skim off any foam that forms on the top. To test the jam’s readiness, place a spoonful on a chilled plate. If it thickens, it’s ready to be canned.
Pour the jam into sterilized glass jars, leaving a quarter-inch space at the top. Wipe the jar rims, cover with lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Let the jars cool and check the seals. Store the sealed jars in a cool, dry place for up to a year, or in the refrigerator for immediate use.
For a full recipe, check out how to can Strawberry Peach Jam!
Creating Dehydrated Strawberry Snacks
Start by slicing the ripe berries into thin, uniform pieces and arranging them on trays in a single layer. This ensures even drying and results in crunchy, healthy snacks that can be enjoyed on the go. After setting the dehydrator to around 135°F, wait for approximately 6-12 hours as the strawberries transform into delightful, chewy treats. Their vibrant color and intense sweetness intensify, creating a wonderful snack that’s perfect for satisfying cravings and adding a burst of fruity flavor to my day.
A Berry Good Ending: Keeping Strawberries Fresh
Choosing the right storage method for your freshly picked strawberries is essential for extending their shelf life. Whether you plan to enjoy them for a few days in the refrigerator or want to preserve them for the long term, the way you store them matters.
Bonus Tip: Strawberry Top Vinegar
- Pour white vinegar over rinsed strawberry tops until they are completely submerged.
- Seal the jar or bottle tightly with a lid and place in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard for at least 2 weeks, and up to 4 weeks, to infuse the flavors.
- After the desired soaking time, strain out the strawberry tops and discard them.
- Transfer the infused vinegar to a clean bottle or jar for storage.
- Use your homemade strawberry top vinegar in salad dressings, marinades, or as a flavorful addition to sauces and glazes.
Experimenting with different methods can help you find the best approach for your needs. From utilizing paper towels and shallow containers to absorb excess moisture to freezing them flat on a cookie sheet before transferring them to freezer bags, there’s a variety of options to explore.
By understanding the science behind each storage method, you can make informed decisions about how to keep your beautiful berries fresh and delicious. Whether it’s for snacking, making strawberry jam, or incorporating them into various recipes, the right storage method can make a significant difference in the quality and shelf life of your strawberries.
So, the next time you find yourself with an abundance of strawberries, remember the simple tips and effective methods for storing them. With a little experimentation, you’ll discover the perfect way to keep your strawberries fresh and ready for later use. Don’t let those juicy berries go to waste – choose the best storage method and savor the flavor of peak-season strawberries all year round.
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About the Author:
I’m Brittany, totally modern and mainstream turned crunchy mama!
Read more here about how I went from a totally incompetent cook and hyper-consumer to striving to live a more meaningful life from scratch.
I can’t wait to share my modern homesteading journey with you and I hope I inspire you to join along!