How To Preserve Spring Strawberries (Without Making Preserves)

The spring strawberry season is relatively short-lived, and the first taste of the year is long-anticipated and a signal that warmer days are finally here. Now that we’ve had the pleasure of strawberries for a few weeks, we might need some inspiration on what to do with the extra berries we have on hand. Tidal Creek has a bunch of sweet and juicy berries from Cottle Organics for just $2.99  a pint (while they last!), so now is the time to stock up on fresh, ripe strawberries, preserving the season (and we’re not just talking about preserves) so that we have them in our fridge and freezer for the coming weeks. 

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If canning is your jam, then by all means, go for it! But here are some relatively quick and easy things to do with super ripe strawberries if you just can’t eat them fast enough.

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1. Have them prepped and ready.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but strawberries left out-of-sight really can be out-of-mind if they are hidden away with the other groceries in the refrigerator. A simple way to make sure they get eaten is, as soon as you get home from shopping, prep the berries (rinse, pat them dry, and optionally remove the green leafy top) and place them in a pretty bowl on your kitchen counter, dining room table, or any high traffic area of the house. They’ll look so appealing, it’ll be impossible to not pop one in your mouth every time you or your family members walk by. 

2. Freeze them.

You’ll thank yourself in the middle of winter when you’re making your smoothie using your leftovers from this spring and you don’t have to buy a bag of frozen berries, which tend to be expensive (and not as tasty) when out of season. Just rinse and pat the berries dry, trim the green tops, and fill up a gallon freezer bag (or several) for later use. Another cool freezer idea: slice the berries, arrange the slices in an ice cube tray, fill with water, and you’ll have strawberry ice cubes that go great in lemonade, sparkling water, or a vodka tonic.

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3. Add them to homemade salsa.

The natural tanginess of strawberries makes them a perfect addition to the tomatoes, peppers, and spices in salsa. Adding an unexpected ingredient to a tried and true recipe can heighten the flavor, saving you from suffering from food boredom. This recipe, which pairs strawberries, mangoes, and green chili pepper with the boldness of black pepper and coriander, sounds insanely good. We want to rush home, like yesterday, to make this as a topping for fish tacos or just to dip chips in for eternity.

4. Make strawberry butter.

This is a perfect option when the berries are getting soft and won’t likely hold shape in a salsa or salad. Once you realize you can add pretty much anything to butter (think: herbs, scallions, honey) the process becomes addicting, and using strawberries is no exception. All you have to do is mash up some strawberries and mix them with softened butter until its all well-combined. It will turn a lovely blush color, and then you roll it with plastic wrap into a log shape and stick it in the fridge for it to harden. For the next couple of weeks (if you can let it last that long) you can have strawberry butter on your pancakes, biscuits, scones, etc. 

SEE ALSO: How To Make Your Farmers Market Haul Last Longer

5. Make strawberry refrigerator jam.

Okay, we know we said this would be about NOT making preserves, but this method is simple and requires no canning equipment or temperature moderation, which can be intimidating. The basic recipe calls for 2 pints of very ripe strawberries and 1.5 cups of sugar, which you bring to a rolling boil on the stove top while mashing with a wooden spoon. That’s really all there is to it! Store the mixture in clean jars in your refrigerator for about a week and use it on your toast, spooned over ice cream, or as a filling for baked goods like thumbprint cookies. 

We hope this lights your creative spark and makes your mouth water for strawberries! $2.99 for a pint of local, organic strawberries truly can’t be beat, so come in to the Co-op and stock up! We’d love to hear from you, so share your recipes and methods with us! 

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