June and July are wonderful months to enjoy fresh berries here in the Midwest. When in season, their flavor is at the optimum level and prices are budget friendly. A simple way to stock up for your winter enjoyment is to freeze berries.
Freezing is a simple, fast way to preserve food. Freezing preserves food by stopping the growth of micro-organisms and slowing down changes that affect quality or cause food to spoil.
When properly frozen, fruit will retain its fresh flavor and nutritive value. Berries and cherries are best frozen soon after harvest. Fruit may have a bit softer texture after have been frozen but they are delicious in flavor.
Freezer containers should be moisture and vapor proof. Glass jars and rigid plastic containers are moisture and vapor proof. Stay away from paper cartons. Consider the shape and size. Square or rectangle shapes use less valuable space in the freezer than round containers. If containers have straight sides or sides that flare out it is easier to remove the frozen product.
Flash freezing berries makes them easier to use from the
freezer, as they stay loose and easy to measure as needed.
How to Flash Freeze Blueberries
- Wash blueberries and drain.
- Dry berries gently with a towel; this makes the blueberries ice free.
- Place blueberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.
- Place in freezer until frozen, about 5 hours, or overnight.
- Transfer berries to a sturdy plastic bag or freezer safe container of choice. Squeeze most of the air out and store in freezer. Frozen fruits are good for 8 to 12 months held at 0 degrees or below.
Blackberry Basil Bruschetta
1 cup fresh blackberries or any berry in season
½ teas. balsamic vinegar
6 to 8 slices crusty bread
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
½ garlic clove
½ cup creamy ricotta mixed with 1 teas. honey
Handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced
Honey for drizzling
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Place blackberries in small bowl and drizzle with vinegar, pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gently break them apart and mix. Set aside for 10 minutes to macerate – this means the berries will become soft and juicy. Mix in the basil.
- Toast or grill the bread. While warm, drizzle with olive oil and rub with the cut side of the garlic clove.
- Top the bread with ricotta, berries, basil, drizzles of honey and pinch of salt and pepper.
Adapted from “Love and Lemons” Jeanine Donofrio