It is almost that time of year again when we love to pick fresh strawberries. Although this year, we still are a bit unsure how the pick-your-own strawberry patches will fair as most stores have strawberries on sale.
Strawberries are a healthy food to eat. They only have 45 calories per cup, are high in potassium, 247 mg, and give us more than our daily requirement of vitamin C. In addition to being a good source of potassium and vitamin C, strawberries are a source of anthocyanin and ellagic acid. Both are phytochemicals found naturally in our foods which may block metabolic pathways associated with the development of cancer.
Whether you pick them or buy strawberries, think about preserving that wonderful flavor and cancer-fighting nutrients for the fall or winter months. Here are the steps to freeze strawberries from the Penn State Cooperative Extension publication “Let’s Preserve Strawberries.”
Don’t freeze more than 2 pounds of food per cubic foot of freezer capacity per day.
• To make a syrup pack: Dissolve 3 cups of sugar in 4 cups of water. Add 1 cup of this syrup per quart of prepared fruit.
• To make a dry sugar pack: Mix 2⁄3 cup of dry sugar per quart of prepared fruit. Or just omit the sugar.
• To package: Fill pint or quart-size freezer bags to 3-4 inches from top, squeeze out air, seal, label and freeze. Before freezing, bags may be inserted into reusable, rigid freezer containers for added protection against punctures and leakage. If using rigid containers, allow 1⁄2-inch headspace for dry pack and 1-inch headspace for syrup pack berries in quarts.
• Prepared berries can also be individually quick frozen (IQF) first on a tray and then packed into containers as soon as they are frozen. IQF berries may be used partially thawed as a snack.
Uncooked Strawberry Jam from Fresh Fruit
1 3/4 cups crushed strawberries (about 1 quart)
4 cups sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 pouch liquid pectin (3 oz.)
Yields approx. 4 half-pint jars
Measure 1 3/4 cups of crushed strawberries. Place in an extra-large bowl.
Add sugar, mix well, and let stand for 10 minutes. Measure lemon juice into a small bowl. Add liquid pectin and stir well. Stir into fruit and continue stirring for 3 minutes. Pour jam into freezer containers or canning jars, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Cover container. Let stand at room temperature until set (up to 24 hours). Freeze or refrigerate.
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.