Freezing Strawberries

It is strawberry season and I couldn’t be more excited.  I love fresh strawberries and try to stock up on fresh strawberries when they are in season locally so that I can enjoy them all winter long while avoiding the ones from the supermarket.  During strawberry season strawberries can be found at roadside stands, u-pick farms, and farmers markets for rock bottom prices.  They are easy to preserve, so there is no reason not to stock up on them.  Freezing strawberries is simple, and in fact will probably be the easiest fruit or vegetable you will preserve all summer.  Here is how you freeze strawberries for use all year long.
The first step in freezing strawberries is to choose the strawberries that you want to preserve.  Strawberries are very delicate and can go bad quickly so it is important to freeze them right away while they are at their freshest point.  You will want to use strawberries that are perfect with no blemishes or mushiness, save the ones that are a little bruised or just not perfect for use in other recipes.  After you have chosen the strawberries that you will be freezing it is time to move on to the next step, rinsing the strawberries.  You will want to gently wash and dry the strawberries, paying close attention so as not to soak the berries in the water too long as it will result in a loss of the flavor.
After you have cleaned the strawberries now it is time to remove the stem and hull the berries.  At this point you will also need to determine if you want to freeze them whole or slice them, or you can always do a little bit of both.  If you decide to slice the strawberries now is the time to do so. 
Next is another important decision, do you want to freeze them with sugar on them or not.  Freezing the strawberries without sugar will allow them to be stored in the freezer without freezer burn for several months but freezing them with sugar on them will extend the storage life of your strawberries.  Strawberries frozen in sugar will last longer as the sugar helps to prevent freezer burn, and also helps to preserve their color.  If you choose to freeze your strawberries in sugar now is the time to cover them in a light dusting of sugar.
Now your strawberries are ready to go into the freezer.  Now you will want to place your strawberries flat on a baking sheet, being careful that they do not touch one another, and place them in the freezer.  Allow the strawberries to stay on the freezer pan until they are frozen solid.  Once the strawberries have frozen solid you will want to remove them from the baking sheet to either a freezer bag or freezer container.  Be sure to label your container and place it in the freezer.  After you have placed your container in the freezer you are done.
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