BERRIES! My family is obsessed. We pick from the beginning of the summer to the end – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries. We know where all the local wild berries are and we have our favorite pick-your-own places in two counties. Summer in New Hampshire is wonderful with berries.
Wild black raspberries we visit for a month mid-summer.
Until, one day the bushes say to you, “Season’s over, friend”, and suddenly you are on your own. So, what is a berry-loving family supposed to do? Freeze those little guys and use them all year long! It’s easier and healthier than canning and you can use the berries in everything from pancakes to muffins, to pies, until strawberry season comes again.
The illusive wild strawberry. These tiny guys are delicious, but a pain to pick. Small hands make the job much easier.
FREEZING BERRIES 101
STEP ONE: Pick berries. Pick a lot of berries. We freeze somewhere between 2 and 5 gallons of each kind of berry, and that is on top of all the berries we eat or bake with right away. We would do more, but one’s freezer is only so big. 🙂
STEP TWO: Spread the berries out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. You do not need to wash them (provided they are organic, of course), but if you do, dry them thoroughly before they go onto the sheets.
When the berries are on the tray is a good time to look them over for any leaves, stems, or tiny, living friends that might not want to get frozen.
STEP THREE: Freeze the berries for one to three hours on the tray. You are doing this so that the berries don’t get crushed in your bags or containers. Don’t skip this step.
STEP FOUR: Remove berries from trays and put them into containers or gallon freezer bags. I use (and reuse!) gallon bags because they fit nicely into my freezer and because containers are at a premium in my house.
Remember to label your berries with the year. And reuse your bags. Wish a quick rinse and dry, they will work just as well a second or third time.
STEP FIVE: Enjoy! You can pull the berries out by the handful or the bagful whenever the spirit moves you. Remind everyone there, especially children, how wonderful it was to pick those berries and how lucky we are to be able to eat New Hampshire blueberries in December.
Blueberry pancakes in December – yum!