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Berry season is right around the corner, and in this article we will teach you the easiest way to preserve berries, freeze them! Freezing berries this way allows you to grab just what you need, when you need them, all year long, and it is super simple to do. Learn how to freeze raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and more!
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Berry season begins here in the PNW in June. Starting with strawberries, than raspberries and blueberries. These are the 3 types of berries we have had for years and always enjoy. But we are trying to broaden the types of fruit we have on the homestead. So last year we planted some currants, elderberries and golden raspberries. This year we planted some honey berries and I have my eye on Josta berries too but haven’t found them locally yet.
Having loads of homegrown berries in the freezer is an excellent way to preserve them. They are great for adding to smoothies, cereal or ice cream toppings, pies, crumbles or what have you. Another benefit is you can pull them out to can jam, jelly or pie fillings, in the dead of winter. There is also a lot of cost savings freezing your own, vs buying fresh or frozen berries thoughout the year.
Sometimes I find we are just too busy at harvest time, to get all the canning done, and I have found that freezing the harvest, frees up some time during this busy season. I enjoy pulling them out in the dead of winter on slower weekends and canning them then. It also warms up the house when it needs it instead of in the heat of summer when the house is already so hot.
After I pick the berries, I fill a huge bowl with cold water and a few glugs of white vinegar. I dump the berries in there and swish them around. Than strain in a colander, and repeat a couple more times with just water. When you are sure they are clean, lay them on a towel in a single layer until they are dry.
Making sure the berries are dry, is an important step. If you put them into the freezer wet, they will stick to each other and become one big frozen berry mess. This also helps them hold their shape, and not be too mushy when they thaw. To keep them loose in whichever containter you choose to freeze them in, make sure they are dry before they go in the freezer.
Once they are dry, move them onto a cookie sheet, or a few cookie sheets, if you have a lot. Make sure they are in a single layer, and not touching. Place the cookie sheets in the freezer until the berries are frozen. This method works well for many things, such as peas, broccoli, cauliflower, beans and I’ve also used it for slice peaches!
When the berries are fully frozen, use a spatula to scoop them up off the cookie sheet. Then you need to place them into containers to store them in the freezer. When they are frozen individually, they will not stick together and will remain loose, for easy use to add a few to whatever you like.
I prefer to use my Foodsaver for storing them in the freezer, as it removes the air from the bags which eliminates freezer burn. You can use zip lock bags or plastic or glass containers if you like, but they will not store for as long.
If you do use the Foodsaver option, beware that the vacuuming process can compress the berries into one giant frozen berry hunk. Mine has a gentle setting which I use to help prevent this, but they do still get squeezed into a lump. Freezing the berries in a container that does not get vacuum sealed, will keep them looser, so you can just grab a few at time. I try to freeze in 4 cup increments, as this is a good measurement for me for making future desserts. Don’t forget to label and date your containers or bags, and be sure to use the oldest ones first.
Now that you have frozen all the berries, you get to enjoy them all year long! Pull out a cup to add to a smoothie, or a handful to add to your cereal or yogurt, add them to a salad, or make a dessert with them! Blueberry pie in the middle of winter, YUM! This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them, greek yogurt, and handful of berries and some granola sprinkled on top. So good!!!