It’s been a bit of a wait — but the strawberries are finally here! I have many different ways to savor my berries. I know they are great on their own, no question there. I often make this healthy strawberry “shortcake” for breakfast or dessert – the family loves it too. Strawberry lemonade is another favorite at my house. And there is nothing better than strawberries on pancakes or a homemade Belgian waffle. Berries are so versatile and they are really my all-time favorite fruit.

Berries are fragile and they need to be used very soon after harvest. While it may seem a little bit premature to think preserving strawberries for the season, it’s never too early use some of the same ideas now to maximize your harvest. Here are some of my favorite ways to use and freeze strawberries for now or later.

Frozen Whole Strawberries
1. Rinse and gently dry the strawberries. Resist the urge to soak them in water as this can result in a loss of flavor and nutrients.
2. Hull the berries and separate any berries that are spoiled. Set those aside for strawberry sauce or strawberry ice (below).
3. Place berries on a baking sheet, not touching one another, and freeze until solid.
4. Transfer the strawberries to gallon sized re-sealable bags or airtight containers and store in the freezer for up to six months.

Strawberry Ice
A friend of mine was so excited when I broke these out to add to some lemonade! Amaze your friends with this simple trick and then act like you’ve been doing this for years…

Chop up 2 strawberries, then mash up 2-3 more. Put some mashed and some chopped strawberries in each compartment in an ice cube tray. Add water and freeze. Add to a glass of water, lemonade or to a summer cocktail.

Strawberry Sauce
4 cups of strawberries, washed and hulled
1-2 T of sugar, or to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
If the berries are starting to go bad, cut the mushy parts off retaining the good parts of the berries. Combine the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar in a food processor or a blender. Pulse until the berries are chopped up and then process until the sauce is smooth and glossy. Pour into two ½ pint jars or similar containers making sure to leave enough room for expansion in the freezer, roughly ¾ of inch. This will make approximately 2 cups of sauce, you can also store in a pint jar in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

strawberry-lemonadeStrawberry Lemonade Cubes
1 cup of strawberry sauce (above)
3/4 cup of sugar or honey or 2/3 cup agave (or sub your favorite sweetner)
1 cup of lemon juice
Combine everything and taste to make the sweetness is good for you. Freeze in ice cube trays and then transfer to a gallon re-sealable bag. For each glass of lemonade add 1 cup of cold water to 2 frozen strawberry lemonade cubes. Garnish with strawberry ice. If you want to substitute lime juice you can make strawberry limeade cubes which make great strawberry margaritas or daiquiris in the blender.