Whether you have excess blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries, freezing them is easy. All you'll need besides an excess of fresh berries is a baking sheet or other easy-to-move, flat surface and a freezer.
Simple Steps to Freezing 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 pat them thoroughly dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Hull strawberries, if those are the berries, you have at hand.
- Lay the berries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Put them in a freezer until frozen solid. An overnight stay usually does the trick.
- 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, up to 6 months (or a year if you have a stand-alone freezer).
How to Use Frozen Berries
The best part, besides the ease of freezing berries, is how versatile frozen berries are.
First off, frozen berries are perfect for making smoothies and shakes. Their frozen texture adds thickness to blended drinks without watering them down with ice or having to add banana or yogurt, if you're not in the mood. For the smoothest, yet thickest, final 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 smoothie or shake.
Second, frozen berries work beautifully in baked goods. I challenge you to tell the difference between the fresh and frozen—in fact, in test kitchen experiments, we found that baked goods made with frozen berries were, if anything, on the whole even better. How can that be? Well, 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- and jelly-making (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. And, let's be frank, when the weather has cooled off a bit, and the thought of steaming, bubbling pots on the stove is a tad more appealing.