Whether you have excess blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries, freezing them is an easy way to extend their shelf life and save them for another day. For best results, freeze berries at peak freshness. Overripe or disappointing berries won't get any better in the freezer. When frozen properly, berries will retain their delicious summery flavor for months and months.
All you'll need besides fresh berries is a rimmed baking sheet, freezer bags, and a freezer. You can freeze different types of berries separately or combine them to make a mixed berry medley.
How to Freeze Berries
- Pick over the berries to make sure no stems, unripe berries, or damaged berries are in the mix.
- Rinse the berries in cool water and dry thoroughly. Either leave them spread out in a single layer on a clean, dry kitchen towel until dry or carefully pat them thoroughly dry with paper towels. If you're freezing strawberries, hull them (remove the green caps).
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or plastic wrap and add the berries in a single layer.
- Put them in the freezer until frozen solid. A few hours is usually long enough but leave them overnight if it's convenient.
- Transfer the berries to resealable plastic storage bags, forcing as much air as possible out of the bag before sealing it.
- Store the frozen berries in the freezer until you're ready to use them for up to 6 months (or a year if you have a stand-alone deep freezer).
How to Use Frozen Berries
Not only is it easy to freeze berries, they're also easy and delicious to use for a variety of dishes.
One of the most popular uses for frozen berries is fruit smoothies and shakes. Their frozen texture adds thickness and coldness to blended drinks without watering them down with ice. For the smoothest and thickest texture, whirl any ingredients that aren't berries first; then, with the blender running, slowly add the frozen berries, letting the blender whirl until the berries are fully broken down and integrated into the drink.
Frozen berries also work beautifully in baked goods. Most people can't tell a difference between baked goods made with fresh berries and frozen berries. In fact, we've found that baked goods made with frozen berries are, on the whole, even better. Freezing necessarily dries out the berries just a tiny bit, and the loss of that excess moisture is a benefit in baked goods, where too much juice can ruin the texture of doughs and batters.
Finally, freezing berries is also a great way to postpone jam, jelly, or chutney making. Freeze the berries when they are perfectly ripe and fresh, and then make the jam whenever you have the time and inclination. Standing over a hot pot isn't the ideal way to spend a summer afternoon when berries are in season. Save them away for a cool fall or winter day and warm up your house with the smell of jam.