Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Freezing Strawberries

My family and I are huge fans of fruit. When I was pregnant with my second there was some discussion that she might arrive bearing an uncanny resemblance to Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory considering my consumption of copious amounts of blueberries. To this day I maintain that it was not a mere craving, but a dire need in order for me and my unborn to survive. And, frankly, if anyone around me were to survive at that time as well, then they had to ensure that there would be 8lbs of blueberries stashed in the fridge at all times.
That being said, we're downright giddy now that all the fruit is coming in. We cannot get enough of it. And, that's a problem. We moved to Texas a little more than a month ago. I know no one. I know where nothing is. I know no farmers. I know of no "you pick" farms yet. I'm sure that will come in time, but while I'm still settling us into our new digs this leaves me with purchasing our produce from the tiny and waaaay over priced farmer's market down the street or from Costco and other markets.
Given that we are on an extremely tight budget and we consume truckloads of the sweet gift of the gods, I often opt for shopping Costco for our produce needs.
I know some of you are balking at this very moment about not buying local. Just the other day I was chastised on another site for making all of the heavenly pineapple concoctions as pineapple is not local. And, I agree. Pineapple is not a local fruit. But, I cannot name one single pineapple farmer here in the state of Texas much less the rest of continental United States. Correct me if I'm wrong, because I would love to visit a pineapple farm, and I just don't see a trip to Hawaii in my near future.
I would love to buy local and support our local farmers. I'm the daughter of a farmer, so this hits close to home. However, we simply cannot afford it. I have to make the most of what we have, when we have it.
And, here's how I do it. When I see a sale on say, strawberries at the grocer I stock up. Or, I will buy them from Costco and save some to nibble on now and others to savor later.
Then I can them. And, when I have canned countless jars of marmalades, jams, jellies, and berries in syrup, then I freeze them.
As I began washing and hulling strawberries yesterday, it occurred to me that something I find so simple might be daunting to someone new to the food preservation scene. And, that's the whole point of this site, to help introduce others to this wonderful kitchen craft and learn from one another. So, here's how.

Step 1. Wash the strawberries gently. I soak them first while sorting out any bad ones. Then I rinse under running water.
Step 2. Place in colander or salad spinner to drain.
Step 3. Cut the tops off and hull.
Step 4. Place on a lined cookie sheet. I usually just line mine with paper towels making them less likely to slide around.

Step 5. Place in freezer.
Once frozen, bag and label. Use a vacuum seal to remove all air if you have one. If not, seal the bag most of the way and place a straw into the corner. You can remove the air yourself by the straw and finish sealing.

There are many different ways to freeze, but this way works best for me. Since they're frozen individually they don't tend to stick to one another in giant ice cubs when pulled out.
Another thing I love to use frozen strawberries for is in place of ice cubes in lemonades, punches, or cocktails. It gives the drinks an added elegant touch quickly and effortlessly.

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