My family loves strawberries. In fact, we live close to the winter strawberry capital of Plant City, Florida and we pick strawberries every year. My freezer is full of frozen strawberries we’ve picked this spring. I use them for so many things and I’d like to share some ways to use them. Of course there’s the obvious – make jam. I do that as well, only I make freezer jam. Much easier, less expensive and you don’t need all of the canning equipment.
Even if you don’t live close to an area that has U-pick strawberries, they can often be found during season relatively inexpensive. They are a great source of vitamin C.
First, let’s talk about freezing strawberries. Take off the tops, rinse and let dry thoroughly. I usually let pat them with a paper towel and then let them air dry completely before moving on to the next step. Once dry, place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, you don’t want strawberries all over your freezer, and place in the freezer until frozen. Overnight is OK. When frozen, place in gallon size freezer zipper bags. Keep in freezer until ready to use. I freeze them whole.
One of my favorite things to make is strawberry sauce. It’s versatile and easy. I use it on pancakes, ice cream and as a drizzle for strawberry shortcake.
2 cups frozen strawberries
¼ cup sugar, more if berries are not sweet
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon corn starch
¼ cup water
Combine strawberries, sugar and 2 tablespoons water ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally, breaking up strawberries as they thaw. As the berries begin to break down and the sugar melts continue stirring. In a bowl, combine corn starch and water and mix until dissolved. Add to berry mixture stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and cool somewhat before using. Can be store in the refrigerator and reheated before serving.
Strawberry lemonade is another great way to use up all those delicious berries. It’s cool and refreshing on hot summer days. I’m lucky that I have a lemon tree so when I get my lemons, all it costs me is the sugar. To me lemonade is always better when made fresh.
Simple syrup (recipe follows)
½ cup sugar
3 cups water
2 cups fresh or thawed strawberries
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Make the simple syrup by combining 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
In a blender combine strawberries, water and sugar; process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a two quart pitcher and add cooled syrup and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
If serving immediately, pour over ice into glasses. Can be made ahead and chilled until serving time.
Makes about 8 servings.
Make this a grown-up version by adding 1 cup vodka.
Other things I like to do with strawberries include purchasing the premade sponge cake shells in the produce section and topping with strawberries and homemade whipped cream then some of the strawberry sauce above and chocolate shavings. This makes a pretty and quick dessert. I also like to get a tub of Cool Whip and dunk the strawberries and eat. Chocolate covered strawberries are very easy to make and the web is full of recipes to do so. My husband’s favorite is to just dip them in granulated sugar. Growing up his grandfather owned a bakery and it was a treat to do this when they visited him. I like to add sliced strawberries to my salad too.