How to Can Strawberries for Long Term Storage
There are a number of methods to preserve strawberries, ranging from freezing to pureeing them. However, you can also process them in a water bath canner, and this option is a great way to keep the strawberries intact and enjoy the whole fruit for months down the line. Let’s take a look at one recipe in particular that is very easy to prepare, and you can start to incorporate strawberries into your food stockpile today.
As a general rule of thumb, it takes about 3lbs of strawberries to fill a quart canning jar, and it’s important to choose ones that are ripe, healthy and in good condition. Sort out the strawberries and discard or consume any that are even marginally-defective. You will also need at least ½ cup of sugar per quart of strawberries as well. You can use raw or refined sugar, but as we all know, raw sugar is much healthier, and this is an important consideration when establishing a survival food stockpile.
You can also experiment with different sweeteners such as agave or honey as alternatives.
Preparing the Strawberries
You can use either fresh or frozen strawberries. If you are using fresh ones, make sure that you cut out the green tops before washing them in cold water. Place them in a large bowl and add the sugar or sweetener, adjusting the proportions based on the amount of strawberries that you want to process in a single batch. Mix well so the berries are coated evenly, and let them rest for about 6 hours in the refrigerator.
Remove the berries from the refrigerator and dump the contents of the bowl into a stockpot and heat to a simmer. Stir gently until the sugar completely dissolves and the strawberries are evenly heated. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, and remember that we’re not cooking the berries, rather preconditioning them for processing. Remove from heat when finished. At the same time, or slightly beforehand, heat the canning jars and lid assemblies. You want to pour in the strawberries and juices while they and the jars are hot. Heating the lid assemblies will help them to expand and soften the adhesive that will help them to seal properly during and after processing.
Processing the Strawberries
Fill the jars with the strawberries and juices until ¼ inch of headspace remains. Wipe down the rims with a damp cloth or towel to remove any residue before attaching and tightening the lid assemblies.
Place the jars into a preheated water bath canner, cover and process quart jars for at least 15 minutes and pint jars for 10. Adjust for altitude by adding 5 minutes for elevations between 1,000 – 6,000 feet and an additional 5 minutes for altitudes above 6,000 feet. Make sure that the canning jars are submerged in at least two inches of water as they are being processed.
Remove from heat and place on a baking rack or the counter that is lined with some towels. This will help to prevent the hot jars from cracking if they come into contact with the cold surface. Allow the jars to cool until they reach room temperature before checking the integrity of the seals. Label and date the product before storing in a cool and dry place. While properly sealed strawberries can have a shelf life of more than a year, they will start to discolor and lose their texture after about six months. Consequently, try and rotate out the product before then for maximum quality and freshness.
Remember that strawberries pack a lot of nutrition in a small amount of space, and they make a wonderful addition to any food stockpile. Try this recipe today, and learn more about other ways to preserve strawberries in order to enjoy their benefits when you can’t get your hands on fresh ones.