Louisiana strawberries seem to come earliest in the season. Those early strawberries are smallish and not quite as sweet. But after a long cold winter like this one, I don’t even notice – and they wreak of spring.
A bit later, the Eubanks Farms strawberries from near Lucedale, Mississippi hit our local markets, and they are more plump and sweet. Probably a result of the warmer sunshine that’s ripened them.
Florida strawberries seems like they’re always in season. I need to get over there and learn more about their strawberry business, because I sure do love eating them. They grow a consistently sweet, big berry. So big they’re a mouthful of Southern summer.
Back in April, some sweet friends of ours spent a Saturday doing what I wanted to be doing: attending the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. I’ve never been, and every year I say, “Next year.” This year, however, my friends returned from the festival and delivered to my doorstep a full flat of the most beautiful Louisiana strawberries my eyes have ever seen right. A flat is TWELVE pint baskets of berries neatly assembled into a cardboard, open-topped carrying box. And in this case, the baskets were piled much higher making these “pints” super-sized.
Here in the Deep South, the month of May means the end of our Southern strawberry season. So, if you dream of Southern strawberries year-round, like I do, you’ll need to save the season. I did just that a few weeks back when I had far too many Ponchatoula strawberries to eat before the freshness spoiled. And you can do the same by following these easy steps.
How to Freeze Whole Strawberries
Here’s how easy it is to save fresh strawberries for use later:
- Remove the green tops and core the berries with a pairing knife. This goes really quickly, so don’t be intimidated. I did an entire jumbo-sized flat of berries in a few minutes before running out the door one morning to a business meeting!
- Wash the whole, cored strawberries under cold water. I gently rub the berries with the flat part of my thumb to remove any seeds, dirt or sticky leaves. This step is also quick – and not nearly as tedious as it may sound.
- Drain the berries in a large colander while you wash the rest of the batch.
- Package the whole berries in portions you deem appropriate in freezer-safe zip-top bags. I put two cups into each bag. But in the long run, this isn’t that important, because whole berries don’t freeze tightly together making it easy to pull out just the number of berries you need for your recipes later without thawing the entire batch.
- Store in the freezer in sealed bags for up to a year. But trust me, they won’t last that long!
There are literally dozens and dozens of uses for your sweet frozen strawberries. I freeze mine whole, so that I have more options (you can always slice them frozen), and frankly, I’ve found that their texture and flavor preserves far better this way. For example, today I made a basic strawberry and yogurt smoothie using the frozen strawberries, and I could not imagine the strawberry flavor being any more fresh and bright than it was in this smoothie – made from whole, locally grown, frozen strawberries.
Here are the top TEN uses I’ve found for my frozen strawberries this year.
- Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream – perfect for summer picnics!
- Strawberry Quick Bread – a delightful summer brunch or breakfast treat
- Strawberry Vinaigrette – great on a seasonal luncheon salad like a spinach, pecan and blueberry salad.
- Strawberry Sauce – a topping for ice cream, cheese cake, pancakes or waffles.
- Strawberry Preserves – when you don’t have time to can but need to save the season, simply freeze first and preserve later.
- Strawberry Smoothie – blend with greek yogurt or almond milk for a delicious, healthy and quick breakfast or snack!
- “Fresh” Strawberry Layer Cake – the frozen work just as well as fresh in this preparation!
- Strawberry Lemonade – an ideal cooler in the summer’s heat and humidity!
- Strawberry Margaritas and similar cocktails requiring a strawberry fruit component
- Strawberry Gelatin Salad – this jello dessert made with pretzels and cream cheese never gets old at Southern pot lucks and back yard BBQs when the temperature rises!
Comment below to share your ideas, too. Also, if you want me to share a recipe or three, comment and ask away. I’m happy to share!