Its berry season in Alberta and the farmer’s markets are spilling over with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, Saskatoons and any number of specialty berries.
Fresh, local berries don’t hang around in the stores for long, so now is the time to purchase them in bulk and store them in the freezer.
I don’t wash berries before freezing, as it can damage them. I have never regretted that decision. If you feel you must wash them first, make sure they are thoroughly dry before proceeding.
Freezing berries for winter use couldn’t be easier. Here’s what you do.
1. Place fresh berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet or tray with sides (so the berries don’t roll off).
2. Remove and discard any berries that have been damaged or spoiled.
3. Place tray in freezer for 30 minutes, or until the berries have firmed up. They don’t have to be frozen solid yet, just firm enough that they no longer squish easily.
4. Place the partially frozen berries in freezer jars, bags or containers and store in the deep freeze for up to one year.
By freezing the berries using this method you are able to store them in larger containers without the danger of them clumping together. This eliminates the need to pre-portion the berries into individual, small bags. Now you can easily access as many or as few berries as you want at a time without having to thaw out the whole container.