June 13, 2013

How to Freeze Summer Fruit

It's farmers market season in the south and each week, I love picking out all that delicious locally grown produce. Sometimes I end up with a little more than we can eat and this is why I wanted to learn the best ways to preserve summer fruit.

Canning has always intimidated me and I wanted a quick & easy method. Since I'm joining my friends on Knoxville's WTNZ Fox43 this morning, I decided to share some easy methods for freezing different kinds of summer fruit.

I decided to learn more about freezing the kinds of fruit we eat most (strawberries, blueberries & blackberries), but there are plenty of helpful online resources for freezing other fruit varieties.

I also wanted some simple methods that are proven to produce great results! There's nothing worse than pulling something out of the freezer to find it all freezer burned and gross.


First, blackberries. From everything I read, it seems like the easiest way to freeze blackberries is flash freezing. This sounds complicated but it's really easy. Wash your berries gently in water. Now lay them out on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper or parchment.

Pop this into the freezer for about an hour. When the berries are frozen, you can put them into a zip top bag or one of these plastic Ball freezer jars. I prefer these to glass jars sometimes because I'm always cramming my freezer too full and things tend to jump out when I open the door. If using freezer bags, try to get as much of the air out as you can.


The next fruit I wanted to freeze is strawberries. For these, I used the sugar pack method. You'll need 3/4 cup of granulated sugar for each quart of berries.

Wash the berries well in a colander under cold running water. Apparently soaking them is bad...oops, I've always been a berry soaker. With a paring knife, remove hulls and stems as well as any bruised spots or blemishes. Slice the strawberries in half lengthwise and try to keep them uniform in size.

Put your berries in a clean bowl and add 3/4 cups of granulated sugar for each quart. Stir gently until the berries are completely coated and then let this mixture sit for 15 minutes.

Pack strawberries into plastic containers like the Ball freezer jars or plastic freezer bags. Leave 1/2 inch head space for pint sized containers or bags and a full inch for quart containers.

Don't forget to label your containers with the date so you can enjoy the best results (will keep for 6 months or so).


Finally, I wanted to freeze some blueberries. I found conflicting information about whether to rinse them or not, but Cook's Illustrated is a pretty reliable source and they say to rinse. Rinse your berries and gently pat them dry.

Toss the blueberries with granulated sugar...1/2 cup for every pint of berries. When the berries are fully coated, place them in zip top bags and freeze flat on cookie sheets. You can also freeze them in plastic containers, depending on what you have.

The sugar is only intended to help the fruit keep its shape and can be rinsed off when you want to eat them. A benefit to this method is that it makes for berries that can be eaten raw.

I'm so glad to have some of the season's bounty safe and sound in my freezer...I don't want summer to end, but I love knowing that come fall/winter I'll be able to enjoy summer's harvest.