Blueberries & Raspberries
Yummy, good-for-you-fruit, but who can pay those winter prices? Plan now and you can eat these delicious berries ALL year long! Some of you grow your own or, as in my sister’s case (she lives in Maine), pick wild ones. Others, like me, have to rely on the u-picks or orchards and produce stands. In any case, in-season is best and cheapest!
Kathie’s How-To’s from Maine (the nation’s #1 blueberry producer)
- Pick/buy your berries.
- Remove dirt, stems, and wash them very gently. Spread them onto a paper towel covered baking sheet/s. Cover them with another paper towel and dry them gently without bruising them. Flash freeze berries by putting the baking sheet into the freezer for about 15 minutes.
- Freeze berries in ziptop bags or rigid containers in batch sizes suitable for baking (1-3 cups)
- “When I use them in bread and muffins,” says Kathie, “I just take them out of the freezer, immediately put them in a colander and run cool water on them to rinse and then gently fold them into the batter. This keeps the color from running and the berries from getting too mushy.”
Kathie freezes strawberries every summer to use for making jam or for eating and using in recipes later in the year. Here’s how she does it:
- Pick/buy your berries.
- For jams, fruited jellow, frozen salads, etc. hull the berries, wash them and cut them up. Freeze them flat in ziptop bags or rigid containers according to the amount needed (usually 1-3 cups).
- To freeze whole strawberries for pies, snacking, etc., hull the berries and wash them. Spread them on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once they are frozen, put them into ziptop bags or rigid containers.
Frozen grapes taste really good and are very refreshing on a hot day! The trick is to take small quantities out of the freezer and eat them before they thaw fully. I helped a friend with her daughter’s wedding reception recently and we filled a few small bowls with red grapes that we spread on large cookie sheets, sprinkled with sugar and froze. Wow – they looked so elegant! We just kept filling the bowls every hour or so. Give it a try!
The big debate about freezing sweet corn is whether you have to blanch it first. Most of the Dept. of Ag. websites say yes, most home gardeners say no. Here’s what my friend and fellow freezer cook, Daphne says to do:
- Husk it well but DON’T rinse it.
- Put the husked corn in gallon freezer ziptop bags and remove as much air as possible (or vacuum pack them). When ready to eat just rinse and boil. Be sure not to get the corn wet before freezing it or it will taste soggy.
- Wash it well.
- Shred for bread, slice for side dishes, cube for soup, etc.
- Freeze in small ziptop bags in amounts need for your recipes. Be sure to label your bags and include the amount.
- Wash well.
- Cut into strips for pizza topping, soups, k-bobs, etc. Freeze in ziptop bags. Seal, label and freeze.
- For stuffed green peppers, just stuff the peppers with your filling as usual ( do not par-boil the pepper) and freeze. These can be bulky to store so try to find a good freezer container that is just the right size.
This is just very basic information. There is A LOT more available online. Do a search and you will turn up step by step instructions for most fruits and veggies. Look for recipes.