This year we hit up the strawberry patch and the blueberry patch. The kids enjoy u-picks and so do I!
Most people pick more berries than they can eat in a few days. That’s why it’s such a great idea to freeze them for later use! This guide will teach you how to freeze the berries you pick and what you can do with them after they’re frozen.
Step One: Pick Berries
If you live in rural areas there’s a good chance you have a u-pick farm near you. We’re fortunate enough to have a strawberry patch and a blueberry field near us. I would love it if we also had raspberries but I’m happy that we have the other choices.
To find a u-pick in your area, ask around. Look on Facebook, check out Google, or ask other people in your community. Hopefully, you have somewhere to go near you!
If all else fails, you can plant your own strawberries or blueberries! OR you can purchase them in bulk when your local supermarket has them on sale.
Step Two: Wash the Berries
I’ve used two methods to do this and I think both are effective.
For both methods, put the berries in a large bowl and fill with water.
Next, add one part vinegar to three parts water. The low pH in the vinegar kills much of the bacteria on the fruit.
Another way you can clean the fruit is to use lemon juice or lemon essential oils. If you’re using lemon essential oils, fill your bowl of fruit and add 4-5 drops of lemon essential oils. Lemons are of course highly acidic which means they have a low pH and are less likely to grow bacteria.
While your berries are soaking in their water bath, gently swirl to remove grime from the fruit. Once the berries have soaked for a time you can put them in a colander to dry. At this point, you can also gently remove water with a paper towel.
Note: If you’re rough with the berries they will bruise and not last as long.
Step Three: Put the Strawberries and Blueberries on Trays
For the blueberries, the only thing you have to remember to do is remove the rotten or bruised fruit. A good rule of thumb with preserving food is — if it’s not good to start, freezing it or canning it will not make it better. So in other words, if you think it looks bad now, toss it in the compost pile. It won’t get better by freezing it.
Strawberries are the same principle but they require a little more work. I prepared mine two ways. One way was to cut them into thin slices. My kids like to snack on frozen fruit so this is an easy way for them to eat it. The other method is to remove the stem and freeze the rest of the berry whole.
Remember to cut out bruised spots or toss rotten fruit.
Step Four: Put the Strawberries and Blueberries in the Freezer
The fourth step is really easy. To do this, you just need to find a flat spot in your freezer to put your berries. Leave your berries in the freezer for a few hours until they’re hard.
This step is necessary because it keeps the frozen fruit from sticking together. Otherwise, you often have a bag of berries that merge into one giant blob. No good.
Step Five: Put the Strawberries and Blueberries in Freezer Bags and Label
I label them and date them. Put them back in the freezer and enjoy beautiful frozen berries for months!
*Berries can stay safe to eat in the freezer for 8-12 months depending on some factors. If the fruit was fresh when frozen it has a longer life. It also lasts longer if they’re kept completely frozen. Berries are susceptible to freezer burn and while that may not affect the safety of the fruit, it will certainly affect the taste.
What to Do With Frozen Strawberries and Blueberries?
Freezing fruit is a really easy and fun way to save the tastes of summer. It’s also a good way to keep the nutrients in them if you store them shortly after picking.
Buuuut. What can you do with frozen fruit?
If you’re my kids, you can just eat them frozen. I don’t prefer to do this but they love it!
Here are some other ideas for what to do with frozen strawberries and blueberries.
1. Make Pie with Frozen Strawberries and Blueberries
Yes, you can make pie with frozen berries! This is a good option and the warm gooey pie will remind you of summer even in the coldest winters.
2. Make Jam or Jelly with Frozen Strawberries and Blueberries
If you’re into canning but you’re short on time when you picked your berries, you can always freeze them first. When you’re ready to start making your jams and jellies you can use your frozen berries.
3. Make Smoothies with Frozen Strawberries and Blueberries
We love smoothies at our house and frozen fruit is the perfect addition. I like strawberries and blueberries best, but raspberries work too if you don’t mind seeds.
4. Make Healthy Strawberry or Blueberry Milkshakes
The fourth idea came from my sister-in-law Ruth. Today, she posted on her Instagram story how to make easy homemade milkshakes with frozen berries. Best part is it only takes 3 ingredients.
Add frozen berries, milk of choice, and real maple syrup. She didn’t use exact measurements but suggested mixing to taste!
Disclaimer: I am NOT a food safety expert. It’s extremely important to use proper safety when preserving and canning food. For more information about safety check out the USDA guidelines for freezing food. You can also check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation.