How to make strawberries last longer

WP_20130622_007

My youngest (2 years old) decided to venture out and too a little strawberry picking this weekend.  It took her a little while (probably a solid pound of berries) to figure out we were supposed to be picking berries and putting them into our flat and not her mouth.  Thirty minutes later and $11.50 paid I left with my full flat (11.5 pounds of berries)

The great about thing picking fresh strawberries is they are ripe and delicious, but the bad thing is you only have a few days before they start to go bad.  Knowing that my little strawberry monster (and her older sister) would not even be able to get through over 11 pounds of berries in 3-4 days so had to start considering preservation methods.

Prevent the strawberries from molding

WP_20130623_011

Here is an easy technique to extend the life of your berries by a few days to even a week.  Prepare a solution of 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water (example for pint of berries I prepared above I did 1/8 cup of vinegar and 1.25 cups of water) Add your strawberries and given them a quick spin.  Next you can optionally rinse them (solution is pretty weak so I do not taste any vinegar taste if I don’t rinse) and then place on an open air container.

This technique also works for other berries that may have molding problems and can enable your berries to last about a week or even up to 2 weeks depending on the actual ripeness when they were picked.

Sugar coat them

WP_20130623_015

Though fresh organic strawberries are sweet enough all by themselves but adding about a teaspoon of sugar to a pint of cut strawberries will generate some strawberry syrups which can easily give you a week in the fridge.  This can be a great topping to ice cream, pound cake, angel food cake, or even by themselves topped with a little whipping cream.

Strawberry Jam

WP_20130623_001

This was the first obvious method of saving some of these delicious berries for next year.  I picked up some new 1/2 cup jars since we typically do not make it through a full cup jar once the 3 week timer starts after cracking the seal.  Also great size for sharing with the neighbors.

The recipe for any type of jam can be found in your box of pectin but I will repeat it here since I personalized some techniques to speed up the process.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of strawberries (4 cups crushed)
  • 7 cups white sugar
  • 1 package of pectin (I personally prefer the liquid form)

Directions

  1. Wash and cut tops off berries and crush them.  I personally add them to my food processor and given them a little pulse to chop them up.  Be sure not to over do this you want some chunks in there not a smooth puree.
  2. Add berries to large pot or saucepan and heat at medium high and add sugar.
  3. Let berries and sugar come to a rolling boil (when you still bubbles continue)
  4. Add pectin and wait until rolling boil returns and let boil for 1 minute while constantly stirring
  5. Remove from heat and fill cleaned a boiled jars/lids with 1/8 inch gap at the top being careful to remove any jam on the top of the jar.
  6. Once all jars are filled add to large pot filled with water on rolling boil (be sure to account for the displacement that will occur when you add your jars)  The directions say you should have 2-3 inches of water over your jars.  My tallest pot doesn’t allow this even for these 1/2 cup jars but have gotten good seals with 1/2-1 inch of water above in the past.
  7. Let boil for 10 minutes (more if higher altitude but see directions on pectin) and let sit at room temperature.  Check the button on the top to see if you have a good seal.  If one doesn’t stay down, no worries just through it in the refrigerator and that will be the first jar you consume.  Let the remaining sit a room temperature for 24 hours, checking the seal again.

Your jam should be good for up to a year with a solid seal and up to three week refrigerated after opening.

Freezing Strawberries

WP_20130623_006

Freezing strawberries is a very easy option for preserving your produce. What I do is wash the berries and remove the tops and split any berries that are significantly larger than the others. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze for 8-12 hours and transfer to freezer bags and remove air with a straw (poor mans vacuum sealer) or use real vacuum sealer like I did below. With this technique the berries should not stick together and all ready to make some shortcake next winter.

WP_20130623_009

7 Responses to “How to make strawberries last longer”

  1. Jeff Says:

    I’ve been keeping strawberries fresh in mason jars in the fridge– they keep for weeks! Just wash and dump them into quart or half gallon jars, screw on tops and put them in the fridge. I read about this in a comment thread somewhere ~2 years ago, and I’ll never keep them any other way.


  2. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Jeff, will have to try your technique as well next time I pick some strawberries.


  3. Matt Sullivan Says:

    This is awesome. We just picked a ton of strawberries. Thank you so much for the timely article.

    I look forward to see much more from you.

    God Bless,

    Matt Sullivan


  4. Jesse @ Humble Seed Says:

    I love that you get your youngest in the garden during strawberry season – very cool! Thanks for the tips on preserving. I usually force my strawberries into jam, but love other ideas like vacuum sealing and adding vinegar – I’m curious how long the vinegar keeps them from forming mold?


  5. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Jesse, When I tried this I used it on some of my ripest berries, typically these get moldy in just a day or two. If I remember right think they were good for about a week.


  6. John Kerr Says:

    There was an article about using UV LEDs in the fridge to keep starwberries perfect for longer on the 6th June 2013 in Newscientist magazine. I think this is something you could do very easily. There was also something in the news (22 Apr 2013) about exposing mushrooms to UV light to boost their vitamin D levels, so there’s a joint project for you.


  7. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    John, haven’t heard that one before about UV lights but yes seems like that would be a pretty easy one to recreate…sounds like I might have a science experiment in my future 🙂


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

%d bloggers like this:
IKE