freeze fresh berries

The Best Way to Freeze Fresh Berries

If you grow berries in your garden you will definitely want to know the best way to freeze fresh berries. Fresh berries are one of the many delights of having your own garden. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are some of the most popular berries to grow. They are all perennials and require little work to maintain. The first ripe strawberry of the year is very exciting! In my climate (New England), it is usually in the end of May or beginning of June.

Once the berries start ripening on the plant, they come quick. In some cases, it can be hard to keep up with picking. Most years, there are so many that we can only pick a fraction of what grows. You will have an overabundance of berries in a short amount of time so finding a way to preserve them is imperative. It takes a little bit of time and effort but you will be delighted in February when you can make a fresh blueberry pie from your own homegrown berries.

Can You Freeze Raw Berries?

You absolutely can freeze raw berries of any variety. There are a few tips and tricks to note so that you don't end up with a big mushed up frozen block in your freezer.

Should You Wash Berries Before Freezing?

If you are freezing blueberries, blackberries, or high-bush raspberries you many not feel it is necessary to wash the berries. Especially if you have picked them shortly after a rainfall. Strawberries and low-bush raspberries are typically pretty dirty because they grow low to the ground so I always wash them before freezing. The key is that you must thoroughly dry the berries prior to freezing them or storing them in the refrigerator. The moisture will cause the berries to go bad much faster in the fridge and will cause the berries to clump together in the freezer. Fresh strawberries in particular tend to be soft so they get mushy fast if there is even a little bit of moisture on them.

How to Wash (& Dry) Fresh Berries

After you have collected your berries, bring them indoors as soon as possible. Leaving them in the sun or warm weather will cause them to go bad faster.

  1. Once you have your berries inside, place them in a large bowl.
  2. Fill the bowl with water and thoroughly rinse all the dirt of the berries. Most of the dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Next. you can scoop the berries out with your hands and into a colander to get some water off the berries. You can also sort out any berries that have bug holes or are too mushy and toss them.
  4. Lay out some clean kitchen towels on the counter or a table.
  5. Gently pour the berries onto the towels and spread them out so there is minimal touching.
  6. Now you can leave them to dry for a few hours.
  7. If you want to speed up the process, place a small fan in front of them to help them dry off. I have a small tabletop fan I use for this purpose (also works for drying your nail polish! :))

Do You Remove Strawberry Tops Before Freezing?

It is not a requirement to remove the tops before freezing strawberries but I recommend that you do. After doing it both ways, it's worth it to take the time to do this extra step. Although, you still can throw frozen strawberries with the tops into your smoothies! The greens are perfectly fine to consume (the stems are more tough and you definitely want to remove them). If you will use your berries for pies or jam in the future you will want them to have the tops removed. It is difficult to remove them once they are frozen.

After you have washed and dried the berries, do a last sort for any bad berries and also remove the tops.

How to Freeze Fresh Berries

Now that you have picked, washed, and dried your berries, they are ready to freeze. Berries tend to get very soft after being frozen so you'll need to take some steps to make sure they don't clump together into a solid block. Here is how to do it:

  1. Take out a cookie sheet that you can fit into your freezer. If you have a bottom freezer, a small cookie sheet usually fits on the top tray.
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper or silicone baking mat on top of the cookie sheet.
  3. Lay the berries out on the cookie sheet in a single layer with minimal touching and no overlapping.
  4. Place the tray into the freezer for a minimum of 3 hours or until the berries are completely frozen.
  5. At this point you can take the tray out of the freezer and pour the berries into a ziplock back or a silicone food storage container like a stasher bag.
  6. The berries will stay frozen individually as long as they don't thaw out (like if someone accidentally leaves the freezer door open too long). You can then use them to scoop out any size portion you need for a smoothie or other recipe.
the best way to freeze fresh berries

How Long Do Frozen Berries Last?

In my experience, when you freeze fresh berries they are good for about one year in the freezer.

What Do you Do With Frozen Berries?

There are so many recipes you can make with frozen berries. They can be used just as fresh berries are used in most recipes. When they thaw out they are mushier then a fresh berry but still very delicious and healthy. Here are some recipes that I make with frozen berries:

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