Selecting High-Quality Fruit Strawberries:
Select fully ripe, firm berries with a deep red color. They should be plump and moist in appearance. Avoid dry, shriveled berries with brown caps, or soft-bodied berries that are bruised or leaking juices. Keep in mind that very large containers may contain berries that are being crushed by their own weight. Steer clear of sticky containers and berries showing signs of mold.
Preparing for Freezing:
Discard immature and defective berries. Wash strawberries and remove caps (hull). Drain and pat dry.
Best Freezing Methods(s):
Whole Berries Sweetened Dry Pack
Add 3/4 cup sugar to 1 quart (1 1/3 pounds) strawberries and mix thoroughly. Stir until most of the sugar is dissolved or let stand for 15 minutes. Pack strawberries into suitable containers leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.
Whole Berries Syrup Pack
Put strawberries into suitable containers and cover with cold, heavy syrup (4 cups water to 4 3/4 cups sugar), leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Seal, label and freeze.
Sliced or Crushed
Prepare for packing as for whole strawberries; then slice or crush partially or completely. Add 3/4 cup of sugar to 1 quart (1 1/3 pounds) strawberries and mix thoroughly. Stir until most of the sugar is dissolved or let stand for 15 minutes. Pack strawberries into suitable containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.
Unsweetened Dry Pack
Remove caps, wash and drain strawberries. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer to tray-freeze. When frozen, transfer to suitable containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.
Freezer containers should be moisture and vapor resistant and should not be prone to cracking or breaking at low temperatures. Containers should provide protection against absorbing flavors or odors and should be easy to label. Suitable packaging for freezing strawberries includes freezer-grade plastic bags, rigid plastic containers, glass containers and heavy-duty foil containers.
Maximum Storage Time:
12 months at 0ºF.
Defrost frozen strawberries in the microwave (see manufacturer's recommendations) or let thaw in refrigerator.
Tips & Shortcuts:
Strawberries packed with sugar will retain their texture better than berries frozen unsweetened. Serve tray-frozen strawberries when they are semi-thawed to retain shape.
Unwashed strawberries can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Leave their caps intact and keep them in perforated plastic containers or cover them in plastic wrap.