In Ontario, strawberries are typically in season from late June to early July. The exact timing can vary depending on the weather and specific growing conditions in a given year. June-bearing strawberry varieties, which produce a single large crop, are generally harvested during this time. It's important to keep in mind that the strawberry season in Ontario is relatively short, typically lasting a few weeks, so it's best to take advantage of the fresh local strawberries while they are available. Here are a few ways in which you can preserve strawberries for the rest of the year.
Preserving strawberries allows you to enjoy their delicious flavour even when they are out of season. Here are a few methods for preserving strawberries:
Wash the strawberries gently and remove the stems.
Pat them dry with a paper towel or let them air dry.
Place the strawberries in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray and freeze them until firm.
Transfer the frozen strawberries to airtight containers or freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.
Label the containers with the date and store them in the freezer for up to 8-12 months.
Jam or Preserves:
Wash and hull the strawberries, then chop or mash them to the desired consistency.
In a large pot, combine the strawberries with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice (optional).
Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves and the strawberries break down.
Continue to cook the mixture until it thickens to your desired consistency.
Pour the hot jam into sterilized jars, leaving a small headspace. Seal the jars with sterilized lids and process them in a water bath canner according to the recommended time for your altitude.
Once processed, let the jars cool and check the seals. Properly sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Wash and hull the strawberries, then slice them into uniform pieces.
Arrange the strawberry slices on dehydrator trays or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Set the dehydrator to the appropriate temperature (around 135°F or 57°C) or use the lowest temperature setting in your oven.
Dehydrate the strawberries until they are leathery and no longer moist. This may take several hours to overnight, depending on the method used.
Allow the dehydrated strawberries to cool completely, then store them in airtight containers or sealable bags in a cool, dark place for several months.
By using these preservation methods, you can enjoy the flavours of fresh strawberries long after the growing season is over.
Not sure which strawberries to choose for baked goods and jams? Read more about it on our previous blog post! How to Grow Strawberries in Ontario.
Images provided by Stefica.