How To: Freeze Berries
Berries! Specifically, blueberries! Tis the season for these healthy, antioxidant rich fruits to hit the shelves of your local market in abundance. And while I know we all love to enjoy them fresh and right out of the container, it is definitely worth it to save some of that goodness for those times of the year when summer berries are a distant memory. When food is in season, any food, it has better flavor, is less expensive, and in some cases, even has more nutritional value. The environmental impact is less as well when you are buying fruits picked a few days prior from the next county(or if you are blessed enough to have a local farmer’s market nearby, that same day) instead of the grapes you buy in January that are shipped in from Peru.
I am generally a big fan of freezing foods for future use, but I really love to freeze berries. I fold them into muffins and coffee cake all winter long and their superior flavor exudes summer when I dump them into a smoothie while the snow falls out my window.
So plan ahead! You will be so glad you did. Follow these steps and avoid the block-o-berries that may result if you just pop them in the freezer as is. This is how you do it. Pick over the berries as soon as you get them home. Toss or compost any that are moldy or crushed. Raspberries, blueberries and blackberries work the best and there should be no need to wash them first. As always, buy organic if you can. Due to their thin skins, berries absorb pesticides more than other fruits, but that is a lecture for a different day.
Dump the berries onto a dry sheet pan in a single layer. Freeze for several hours or overnight. The berries will move freely and become individual little ‘rocks’ that won’t stick together.
Transfer the fruit into resealable freezer bags and label. I like to make sure I know at a glance which ones are the oldest in my freezer so the phrases ‘use first’ and ‘use last’ are often scribbled on the bags somewhere. Enjoy!