How to Freeze Strawberries for Fresh Berry Flavor All Year Long
So you've got a full bumper crop of strawberries (or scored a great deal at the farmers market) and already spent the summer enjoying your bounty in fresh strawberry recipes. But no matter what berry storage hacks you try, strawberries usually only have a short shelf life of about a week before they start to go mushy or (eek!) moldy. Fortunately, freezing strawberries is a great way to preserve your haul for much longer than that brief window. Use these tried-and-true Test Kitchen methods for freezing fresh strawberries—unsweetened or sweetened—for future use in frozen smoothies, baking, sauces, and more.
How to Freeze Strawberries
The most common way to freeze strawberries is by flash-freezing them whole and unsweetened (aka dry pack method). There are also ways to freeze strawberries with sugar that we'll get to later.
Step 1: Wash and Dry Strawberries
Before you freeze strawberries, wash them thoroughly by placing them in a colander and gently rinsing under cool water before removing the stems. If you remove the stems before washing, more water can get in and affect the texture and flavor—no one likes a watery strawberry! Carefully spread the berries in a single layer on a tray or baking sheet lined with paper towels or a clean lint-free towel ($9, Walmart). Pat the strawberries dry with another clean towel and/or let them air-dry.
Step 2: Freeze the Strawberries
Arrange the whole strawberries on a dry baking sheet and freeze until solid—a couple of hours should do the trick. This keeps the strawberries loose, making measuring and thawing easier later.
Test Kitchen Tip: You can hull the strawberries before freezing. If you prefer to slice the strawberries before freezing, omit the freezing step above, which is for whole strawberries, and freeze as directed in the next step.
Step 3: Pack the Frozen Strawberries for Storage
Transfer the frozen strawberries to freezer containers. A reusable silicone storage bag ($7, Walmart) is an eco-friendly way to store frozen strawberries. Leave a little space at the top of the bag or container, because the berries might expand. Label the bags or containers with the name of the berry, date frozen, and amount.
Test Kitchen Tip: Measure the strawberries with a measuring cup as you put them in the bags or containers, and write the amount in cups on each bag or container. When you need frozen strawberries for a recipe, you will know how much you have available.
Store bags of strawberries flat in the freezer. You can also place the bags on a tray or baking sheet first to assure a flat surface. Add bags or containers of strawberries to the freezer in batches to make sure they freeze quickly and leave room around each to allow air to circulate. You can stack the bags or containers once the fruit is frozen.
How Long Can You Freeze Strawberries?
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, you can safely store strawberries in the freezer for up to a year.
How to Freeze Strawberries with Sugar
You can also choose to sweeten strawberries before freezing. Place a small amount of whole or sliced strawberries in a freezer bag or container and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Repeat the layering, leaving a little space at the top of the bag or container. Cover and let the fruit stand for about 15 minutes or until juicy. Seal container and freeze strawberries as directed above.
How to Freeze Strawberries in Syrup
Covering your fruit in a syrup pack is also an easy way to prep and freeze strawberries. Choose the type of syrup you like using our canning syrup recipes and fill the freezer container.
Test Kitchen Tip: Note the headspace in the container before freezing strawberries. When using an unsweetened pack, leave at least a ½-inch headspace. For sugar or syrup packs, use a freezer container with a wide top; measure a ½-inch headspace for pints and 1-inch for quarts.
Using Frozen Strawberries
When thawing, frozen strawberries tend to lose their shape as well as some of their juice, so place freezer bags of berries on a baking sheet or in a bowl to thaw in case the bags leak. Since they'll lose some of their original plump shapes, frozen strawberries will do better in recipes that call for baking or cooking rather than fresh. Try using frozen strawberries in a delicious strawberry dessert such as this gorgeous strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie. Add them to your morning smoothie or refreshing happy hour drink. You can also bypass freezing strawberries whole and make a delicious freezer jam.