Q. I like to take advantage of the local pick-your-own orchards, especially strawberries in June. I’m not a jam or jelly person and I don’t can. How can I preserve the berries for use later in the year? – Karen, Darboy
A. There are a couple of things you can do besides jams and jellies to preserve foods for future use, but it really depends upon how you intend to use them in the future. Many people wash their fruits and freeze them on sheet pans until frozen solid and then bag them up. One challenge is that the freezing process bursts the cells of the fruits and causes them to become a bit softer (mushy) when thawed. Another thing that can be done is to prepare the fruits into pie fillings. Although similar to jam, this is a convenient way to preserve the fresh fruit in the way that you will use it later. Another idea, and probably the way I would preserve them, is as a puree. Using either a blender or similar device, simply take the washed, fresh fruits and puree them until either chunky or completely smooth and freeze. What a wonderful treat this fruit puree will be in the middle of winter for several preparations, including, of course, to turn into a strawberry margarita! I hope this helps you, Karen!