Two words, my friends: Berry. Season.
One of the best seasons in my humble opinion (which is funny since I’m not really a fan a fruit, but even I’ll take a bowl full of fresh, local strawberries and cream any day). But sadly, up here in the Northeast it always seems to be one of the shortest seasons as well.
While the fruit is particularly enjoyable during this time of year, most of what makes it so enticing to me is the fact that it’s local and can often be found plastic and packaging free. So when berry season rolls around I make the most of it by eating my weight in fresh strawberries with cream and then freezing jars full of berries to enjoy in smoothies all year round. Since frozen berries in the store always are packaging in plastic, freezing them on my own is the only way choose to get them.
Freezing strawberries is easy, but there is a trick to keeping them from sticking together. If you just throw them all in a jar and toss it in the freezer you’re going to end up with a solid chunk of strawberries that will need to be thawed before use (there is nothing wrong with this approach and I’ve been known to do it myself when I’m feeling lazy. Hey it all tastes the same in a smoothie, right?). But my aunt taught me that there is a way you can keep all those berries separate and slightly easier to use.
What you’ll need:
- Strawberries (or any type of fruit really)
- A knife (If you want them frozen in smaller pieces)
- A baking sheet (I use the lid to one of my cake pans)
- A container to store them in (My go-to is a mason jar)
- A funnel (Optional)
- A spatula (Optional)
Start with some fresh strawberries (or any berries really, but I just happen to have strawberries here). If you’re berries are dirty, or you aren’t sure where they came from give them a rinse and allow them to dry thoroughly. The berries I’m using were clean and from an incredibly local organic farm, so I skipped the cleaning step.
If you want, you can take the tops off of your berries, which is what I generally do, although this step is optional. Turns out the tops of strawberries are 100% edible, and won’t change the taste or texture of your future smoothie.
Next, slice your strawberries into whatever size pieces you want. I like to make them bite-sized, because I find these are easier to blend.
Lay the strawberries out on your baking tray (or cake pan lid, or the bottom of your cake pan, or just on a plate….we don’t judge here). The key to this step is making sure your berries aren’t touching. The berries can be close than in the image above, but they just need enough space in between each other so they don’t freeze together.
Once your berries are laid out in a single layer, pop them into a freezer until frozen solid. I generally leave them in there in between 1-3 hours.
Once your berries are frozen solid, take them out of the freezer and immediately put them into a freezer safe container.
This is where the spatula and funnel can come in handy.
The more you touch the berries the faster they melt, and the fast they melt the more likely they are to stick together. So to avoid touching them as much as possible, I use a spatula to pick them up.
And then because my aim is bad, I put a funnel on top of my jar to catch them so they don’t fall.
As soon as the berries are in the jar put it back in the freezer, but be sire to label it first. I always think I’m going to remember what’s what in my freezer or how long soething has been in there, and then a year goes by and I’m left to ask myself “strawberries or venison?”. Two things you really don’t want to mix up.
Since we aren’t freezing liquid we don’t have to worry about filling the jar too full, and if you want you can put berries all the way to the top (as long as the lid fits on correctly). But I like to still leave in inch or so of space at the stop so that I can go back after my berries have been in the jar for awhile and shake it to make sure that they are freezing separately.