In this day and age we can pretty much get access to fruit all year round, but fruit will always taste better when it's in season, there's just no denying it. Strawberries are at their best in June, so bulk buy now and learn how to freeze them to get the best of their flavour all year round.
We spoke to Justine Patterson, freezing expert and author working with Sweet Eve Strawberries, to get three of her favourite ways to make sure strawberries don't go to waste.
Whether you're looking to make jam or just want to keep your strawberries for winter recipes, these three ways will sort out your every need.
To begin with, put your freezer setting onto fast freeze at least two hours before adding the strawberries. Justine says this is because "freezing the strawberries quickly will help them retain as much of the flavour and texture as possible."
Take care when washing and drying your strawberries; Justine explains that making sure they are completely dry "will prevent ice crystals forming on the outside of the berries and causing damage to the delicate cell structure."
Once washed and totally dry, hull the strawberries by pinching out the green stalk end. "It’s important to do this after washing so the strawberries don’t fill with water," explains Justine.
Once all of this is complete then you can get on with your freezing. There are three ways to go about it...
The Open Freeze
Justine says: "This freezing method is best when you are going to be cooking the strawberries from frozen for jam, pies and crumbles or when the strawberries are fully thawed and then whizzed into a puree for making cheesecakes, mousses, fools and soufflés.The texture on thawing will be very soft.”
How To Freeze:
1. Place the strawberries, base side down and a little bit apart, on a baking tray lined with cling film, freezer film or baking parchment.
2. Freeze for 2-3 hours or until solid. Fast freeze can be turned down after this.
Once totally frozen, remove the tray from the freezer and place the frozen strawberries in a labelled freezer bag. Press out as much air as possible before sealing tightly. Return to the freezer for up to 4 months.
“This freezing method is perfect if you want to use your strawberries from frozen in super-quick sorbets and smoothies when you don’t need extra liquid. Also ideal for topping muesli and other cereals, stirring into fruit salad, scattering over cold desserts and for pie and crumble fillings. The sugar will turn into a light syrup coating the strawberries as they thaw,” explains Justine.
1. Place a layer of strawberries in a rigid freezer-proof container with a lid. A clean ice cream container is perfect.
2. Sprinkle with a heaped tablespoon of caster sugar – around 15g – for every layer of strawberries.
3. Top with another layer of strawberries and sprinkle with the same amount of sugar. Continue the layers to the top of the container. Don’t tip or shake the container as the sugar will fall to the bottom.
4. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Label and freeze for up to 4 months.
Fast freeze can be turned down once the strawberries are solid, this should take 2-3 hours.
To make the syrup Justine says, "For every 250g strawberries that you are freezing, put 150g caster sugar and 50ml water in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring regularly, until the sugar dissolves then increase the heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute then remove from the heat and leave to cool completely."
1. Put the strawberries in a rigid freezer-proof container with a lid until they come roughly 2/3 of the way up the sides.
2. Pour over the cooled syrup, leaving around 3cm headroom at the top of the container to allow for expansion.
3. At this point the strawberries will float towards the surface, so half fill a small freezer-bag with water and seal with a knot. Place on top of the strawberries so they remain submerged in the syrup.
4. Cover, label and freeze for up to 6 months. Fast freeze can be turned down once the strawberries are solid, this should take 2-3 hours.
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