by Sarah Steimer
This time of year I tend to go a little overboard on the summer berries. I go to two farmer’s markets each week and somehow get more berries than I could possibly eat before the fruit goes bad. The best solution to the quick-aging berry? Freeze it. This way, you save yourself from having to throw out food — which is like throwing out money. Freezing berries now also means you can use your own, local fruit in the dead of winter rather than buying strawberries by way of Mexico at the grocery store.
Possible berries to freeze:
- cherries (may want to pit them first)
- cranberries (fall)
- strawberries (hulled)
For the sake of this how-to I’ll focus on raspberries and blueberries, two of the easier berries to freeze.
Rinse the berries in a colander under cool, lightly streaming water. Do not turn the water on very hard as the berries are delicate and can bruise. Pick out any sad berries or stems that made it past the farmer’s eye.
Place one or two paper towels on a cooling rack. Gently shake the berries in the colander to remove as much excess water as possible. Transfer the berries to the towels using your hands — do not pour the fruit directly from the colander as it will dump extra water on the towels. Arrange the berries in a single layer. Fruit such as blueberries and strawberries can be arranged on the racks at random, but I like to sit raspberries and blackberries upside down (as pictured above), so their insides have a chance to drip-dry. It takes a little more time, but will save you from having tiny icicles inside the berries later.
The berries should dry completely (or close to it) for about an hour or so on the counter.
Why make sure the berries are totally dry? Because if you toss them into a bag while they are still wet, you wind up with an icy block of fruit. Using this drying method, it will allow you to grab a cup of frozen fruit without having to thaw the entire bag.
Once the berries have dried fully, place them on a clean baking sheet in a single layer.
I also found it helpful to set the raspberries on end even while they froze. Raspberries tend to stay a little more soggy than blueberries, so the less they touch one another, the better.
Freeze for 1-2 hours, or until the berries are relatively hard to the touch.
Label freezer bags with the date and fill ‘em up! Berries can stay in the freezer for a very long time because they contain a high amount of sugar. From what I read online, some people have used frozen berries up to four years after freezing them. Of course, I would suggest using them within a year, that way you can freeze a fresh new round next season.
To thaw the berries, either leave them out at room temperature or in the refrigerator over night. Some recipes, such as blueberry muffins, actually work without ever needing to thaw the berries at all. Frozen berries also make excellent smoothies because they create an icy texture when blended with yogurt and other ingredients — no extra ice necessary.
If you have any additional questions about freezing berries — or other foods — leave a comment below!