The East Nashville Farmers Market has many options for delicious summer berries. Did you know that you can freeze berries to last all winter long? If you like blueberries or blackberries in the winter for muffins, pancakes, cobblers, pies or just in a bowl, imagine how good it would taste if you had picked a couple of quarts fresh and then quickly froze them at home! Freezing is one of the simplest ways to put up a fruit for the winter.
Below is how to do it, complete instructions in easy steps! Your own frozen blueberries will taste MUCH better than anything you’ve ever had from a store. I’m using blueberries as an example, but this same process works exactly the same for any other berries such as raspberries and blackberries.
Directions for Freezing Blueberries, Ingredients and Equipment
- fresh berries – any quantity
- Vacuum food sealer or “ziploc” type freezer bags (the freezer bag version is heavier and protects better against freezer burn).
- pan or tray that will fit in your freezer
- strainer or colander
Step 1 – Buy Your Blueberries at the East Nashville Farmers Market! Start with the freshest blueberries you can get. Look for plump, full blueberries with a good color. I’ve used blueberries as an example, but these directions would equally well for any similar berry.
Step 2 – Wash the blueberries? No! You should not wash blueberries because it results in a tougher skinned product, but you can wash raspberries and blackberries and pat them dry with a paper towel. For blueberries, just pick the dirt out and wash them later when you thaw them by rinsing them in cold water.
Step 3 – Spread the blueberries 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 so they will freeze quickly and not be frozen together in a lump. Later you can remove only what you need without thawing the rest! If your freezer isn’t that big, just 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. You may want to leave them in the freezer overnight so the berries get completely frozen.
Step 5- Bag the blueberries. A vaccum seal bag is great, but if you don’t have them a ziploc bag work, too! Remove as much as the air as you can to prevent drying and freezer burn. To remove the excess air from a ziploc bag, put a straw inside the bag and zip it closed as far as possible, then suck the air out of the bag. Pinch the straw shut where it enters the bag and pull it from the bag and quickly zip the bag the rest of the way.
Step 6- Done! Pop them into the deep freeze, or in the coldest part of your regular freezer!
When you are ready to use the blueberries – Thaw, wash and sort the blueberries. To thaw them, just set them in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for a couple of hours. You can then rinse them under cold water and get ready to enjoy them in your favorite dish or by themselves!
So don’t forget about the winter- buy some extra at the market this week and follow this simple freezing tip to enjoy summer’s goodness all winter long.