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Friday, June 10, 2011

How I freeze Berries...

This is what 18 pounds of strawberries look like…

This is what a One Ounce Strawberry looked like… right before I ate it…

When I was picking this boatload of berries many, many people asked me what I was going to do with all of them.

Eight pounds was going towards a new jam recipe.
[next post I promise]

The rest I was freezing so we had them for smoothies and baking until next season.

Then I had to completely explain how I go about freezing them. I was kind of shocked really, I thought it was a pretty simple thing to do, but I was really surprised at the amount of people that had no idea where to start.

So, here is my really super fast and easy way to get berries
from fresh picked to freezer, super fast.

How to Freeze Berries
[strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries]
You will need a small, CLEAN fan. Seriously, if the blades are dusty, take it apart and clean it first, you don't want that stuff blowing on your berries.
1. Line a large tray or several small trays with 2 layers of paper towels or absorbent cotton towels (non-linting ones, and one's you don't mind staining).

2. Fill a CLEAN sink with COLD water. If berries are fresh picked and warm, add a few large measuring cup fulls of ice to quickly cool them down to stop them from deteriorating.

3. Carefully add berries, being careful not to bruise them.

4. Using your CLEAN hands, gently start to submerge and move the berries around to clean them. Pick out any large debris or bad berries. I do this for about a minute so I can inspect them pretty well.

5. Using a strainer, long handled mesh spoon, large slotted spoon, or your hands, carefully scoop the berries out and drain off water and place GENTLY on lined tray in a single layer.

6. Set in front of fan and set to medium speed or low if your fan only has two settings.

7. Every minute or so, grab the tray on both sides and gently slide it in a circular motion to rotate the berries.  If you need to move some around, pick them up and move them, don't try sliding with your hands or you will bruise the fruit.

8. In about 5 minutes your berries will be dry and you can start trimming/hulling them, cutting them down, if needed, and placing into a pan into a single layer.
I use all old baking pan I don't bake with any more.  It looks kind of gross, but I promise you it's spotless clean. I use it just for freezing because it fits into my narrow freezer.
Here's my little work station… I usually keep the fan on because it feels lovely. :]

9. Once the tray is full, don't crowd them too tight and be sure cut surfaces are not touching each other, add a layer of parchment paper on top and fill with a second layer.

10. Once full put in the freezer and when the berries are frozen all the way through you can bag them up.

Work ONE layer at a time, leaving the other layer in the freezer so that it doesn't start to defrost.  Work quickly, breaking any berries that are stuck together apart, it's quite easy. Then scoop them into a bag with a spatula or spoon and seal.

I prefer to seal mine in quart size bags that I can make airtight using Ziploc's nifty little thingy…

Date and mark your bags prior to filling, it's easier. Or, like me, you can throw out a couple of expletives and do it over lots of bumpy berries.

I can clear a tray full of berries pretty quick. With berries you don't need to trim you can have the entire process completed in 15-20 minutes tops.

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