Thursday, October 6, 2011

How to Freeze Fresh Berries

I dance with delight at the availability, sales, and price of fresh berries during the summer. Now that I am getting the sale 411 on the We Use Coupons forums by grocery store, I find that I am able to buy fresh berries when they go on sale. Before this whole extreme (ly nornmal) couponing and sale watching started I thought buying fresh berries was a luxury - not anymore!

However it sure would be nice to save some of those summer sale berries for later in the year. I wondered if I could freeze fresh berries without them turning into a large brick of ice when frozen or container of smoosh when defrosted.

It turns out, you can!

The lovely folks at Naturipe sent me a very generous sample of raspberries to use for developing recipes. After working and reworking my Very Raspberry Scone recipe several times, I had something I was happy with and made them for Husband’s birthday.

That made Husband very happy.

I wanted to try making raspberry infused vodka with the rest of the Naturipe raspberries. The raspberries waited in the refrigerator until….

SMOOSH!

I accidentally put a glass casserole dish full of leftovers on top of the berry containers in the refrigerator.

OH NO!!

I need whole berries to make infused vodka. If I threw those slightly squished and still ripe berries away, I knew I dead relatives would haunt me for wasting perfectly good food.

Slightly smooshed raspberries are practically raspberry jam. However, I do not have time right now to make raspberry jam. But I do have time to freeze my berries until I have the time later to make jam!


How to Freeze Fresh Raspberries

Most people use a cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap to freeze berries. I use a glass Pyrex baking pan with a snap on lid. I like to use reusables over disposables every chance I get. With the covered dish, I can stack things on top in my tiny top mount freezer. I can't do that when I use plastic wrap.

Most important, for this lazy chef, I'm less likely to run out of plastic wrap when I need it if I rely on dishes that have reusable covers. 






















I put the dish with the berries in the freezer for an hour. Any longer and  the berries can freeze to the bottom of the dish. Guess how I know?

Then I removed the berries and but them in an airtight freezer container for longer freezer storage.

Why didn’t I just dump all of the berries in to the freezer container to begin with? Well I tried that earlier in the summer with a package of strawberries. The strawberries froze together in a large clump inside the freezer container. No big deal, you say? You may think differently after spending a ton of time and effort chipping frozen strawberries out  the container to make a smoothie for your sweet niece.

By freezing the individual berries in a dish or on a cookie sheet first, the berries sit in the container like little frozen fruit ice cubes. That makes it much easier to remove a few berries from the container to use on cereal, in a smoothie, or another recipe that does not call for defrosting the whole container of berries.

What are your fruit saving secrets?


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