Ingredients and Equipment
- fresh berries – any quantity
- Vacuum food sealer or “zip lock” type freezer bags (the freezer bag version is heavier and protects better against freezer burn.)
- a pan or tray that will fit in your freezer
- a strainer or colander
Step 1 – Get your berries
Start with the freshest berries you can get. Look for plump, full berries with a good color. I’ve used blueberries as an example, but these directions would equally well for any other berry (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.) See the picking tips page for other berries.
Step 2 – Drain the berries
Use a large sieve or colander to remove as much water as possible. I usually let them sit for about 10 minutes in the colander. NOTE about blueberries: Do not wash blueberries and related berries (saskatoons). According to University of Georgia and Clemson University extension services, washing these berries results in a tougher skinned product. (Frankly, I’ve never noticed a difference, but I use frozen blueberries in cooked pies, anyway). The university extension services referred to above say to wash the berries after you remove them from the freezer to use. This only applies to blueberries and saskatoons.
Step 3 – Spread the berries in a pan
There are two ways of doing this. If you have space in your freezer, spread the berries out in a large oven pan with a lip or ridge. Put enough on to make 1 layer. This way they will freeze quickly and not be frozen together in a lump, so later you can remove only what you need without thawing the rest. If your freezer isn’t big enough to spread out as above, just drain as much of the water as you can (if you washed them), then put them into whatever container will fit in your freezer. After they are frozen, they may stick together a little bit, but should break apart fairly easily.
Step 4 – Put them in the freezer
Pop them into the coldest part of the freezer, or the quick freeze shelf, if your freezer has one. I leave them in the freezer overnight, to get them completely frozen.
Step 5 – Bag the berries
I love FoodSavers for vacuum sealing! I am not paid by them, but these things really work. If you don’t have one, zip lock type bags work, but it is hard to get as much air out of the bags. Removing the air is necessary to prevent drying and freezer burn. *Tip for a low budget vacuum sealer: To remove excess air from a zip lock bag, put a drinking straw inside the bag and zip it closed as far as possible. Then suck the air out of the bag through the straw, pinch the straw shut where it enters the bag, pull it from the bag and quickly zip the bag the rest of the way.
Step 6 – Label the bags
Of course, you’ll want to label them with the contents and date. All this work could be wasted if you couldn’t identify them later, or didn’t know how old they were.
Step 7 – Done!
Pop them into the deep freeze, or in the coldest part of your regular freezer. When you are ready to use the berries – thaw, wash and sort. To thaw them, just set them in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for a couple of hours. I wouldn’t recommend the microwave unless you are planning to cook with them! You can wash the frozen berries in a bowl of plain cold water. Pick out and and remove any bits of stems, leaves and soft or mushy berries. It is easiest to do this in a large bowl of water by gently running your hands through the berries as they float. With your fingers slightly apart, you will easily feel any soft or mushy berries get caught in your fingers.
- Pick early in the morning, especially if the weather is hot, to get peak flavor.
- Pick the berries at their peak maturity, but not overripe and mushy.
- Process promptly after picking, or keep cooled in the fridge or with ice until then.
This tip is from: Pick Your Own