Magazine article Sunset

Freeze Bargain Berries for Winter Desserts

Magazine article Sunset

Freeze Bargain Berries for Winter Desserts

Article excerpt

It's surprisingly easy, and the payoff comes when berry prices soar

Summer berries can't get much better or cheaper than they are in June and July, especially if you grow or pick your own, or buy in bulk at farm stands or farmers' markets. And if you'd like to keep the good deal going, freeze some of this fruit to use in pies and other treats later in the year, when berries are expensive.

Freezing without sugar works well for all berries, and the process is child's play. Of course, you should start with prime-quality fruit.

First, sort berries, discarding any that are bruised or have even a hint of mold.

Gently rinse berries to remove dust and any other debris. The most effective method is to dump several handfuls of berries at a time into cool water, then at once skim them out with your hands, a large strainer ladle, or even a colander. Do not let the berries stand in water (they'll get soggy) or run water over them full force (the pressure is enough to bruise). Lay berries in a single layer on several thicknesses of towels and let stand a few minutes until drained and mostly dry. Do not pat berries to dry; this also bruises them. Hull strawberries and gently pull currants from stems.

Individually quick-freeze juicy berries that crush easily - blackberries, boysenberries, olallieberries, loganberries, marionberries, raspberries, strawberries, and currants.

Arrange clean, dry berries in a single layer (they can touch slightly) in large rimmed pans. Freeze, uncovered, until berries are hard, 1 to 2 hours. Then quickly pour berries into freezer storage containers, seal, and return to freezer for as long as a year. Berries will not stick together; however, if a few do lump, tap to break apart. To use fruit, pour out the amount you want. Reseal remaining berries and return them at once to the freezer. Be sure to use freezer storage containers; otherwise the berries will get freezer burn as they lose moisture and dry out. …

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