Tips for Berry Season

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Over the years my husband and I have picked more and more blackberries in the summers.  We moved into our current home back in June of 2011 and quickly discovered that summer that we were surrounded with area “ripe for the picking”. I eventually started making my own jam and finding more and more ways to use them.  Along with all the recipes, we also got smarter with how to keep the berries fresh and even freeze them for later use.  I’m going to share those tips with you today!

Ok, first order of business.  You’ve gotten your berries home, so now what?  I should say right now that these tips will apply to all berries, whether it’s blackberries, blueberries, etc. Start by watching your berries.  I’ve found that plopping them in batches in a large colander in the sink and rinsing.  The next step is to dry them thoroughly.  This is a mistake we used to make.  We’d wash them and put them straight into a freezer bag without drying them, so they’d get all mushy or more quickly mold.

Here are the steps for keeping your berries fresh (see pictures below):

  • To dry them, lay your berries in a single layer on paper towels on your counter or a cookie sheet (this can be useful if you need a mobile solution).
  • Top with another paper towel and gently press to absorb any water from the tops of the berries.  Let them sit a few minutes to completely dry. A word of warning, if it’s a warm day don’t leave them out for more than an hour.  I’ve left berries out on a hot day for a few hours and have found that they started to mold!
  • Once the berries are dry pop them into a Tupperware container or freezer bag and into the fridge.  They should last for up to a week in the fridge.

 

The other way to preserve your berries longer is obviously to freeze them.  I like to freeze berries if we picked more than we can possibly eat or bake with in a week.  I also like it because it’s really nice to have berries available to you in the dreary winter months. Who’d doesn’t love some blackberry scones on a cold wintery Sunday morning!  Frozen berries are also great in smoothies and ore often easier to handle when stirring into batters for baked items because the juice won’t bleed.  Just like everything we learned from our mistakes when freezing berries.  If they were still wet and we just threw them in a freezer bag and into the freezer, we’d end up with one gigantic hunk of berries.  Good luck if you decided you only wanted to use a cup or so!  That required getting out the ice pick and chisel to break off a “chunk” of berry to use.  This method keeps the berries single and un-clumped.  Without the extra liquid they are also less likely to freezer burn.

Here’s the steps for freezing your berries with pictures to follow:

  • Follow the steps above to clean and dry your berries.
  • Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the berries in one layer on the sheet.
  • Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours or until the berries are completely frozen.
  • Pour the berries into a freezer bag or Tupperware container.
  • Label your container with what is in it and the date.  This may seem unneccesary but if that container gets shoved back to the freezer and you don’t see it until January, you may not remember what it is (especially if it’s something like a blackberry that looks similar to other berries).
  • Enjoy as needed within the next year!

Frozen

I hope you’re all enjoying all of the fresh berries this summer has to offer.  Are there other tips you have that I missed.  What’s your favorite summer berry?  Let me know in the comments!

 

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