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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Freezing Blackberries in Bulk and on Trays

My two daughters and I went out foraging for blackberries Monday evening. We brought 3 ice cream pails with us and each filled one. We plan on doing this three or four more times this month. That's a lot of blackberries! These berries will supplement any fresh or canned fruit that we buy this fall and winter.

The way that we use the frozen berries dictates how I freeze them. We have two main ways that they are used: one, I bake a dessert for the entire family or make a small batch of jam; and two, we add just a few berries at a time to foods like smoothies, homemade yogurt, or to add just a bit of color or flavor to foods like applesauce.

The most expedient way to freeze the berries is just washed, then scooped into quart-size freezer bags or containers. This method takes the least amount of hands-on time. The berries tend to clump together, so these bags of berries are best-suited to uses that call for an entire quart at a time.

fresh berries not yet frozen

The second method is to wash them, then spread on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. I freeze the entire tray full of berries, then after a couple of hours they are frozen enough to transfer to a gallon-sized freezer bag. With these berries frozen individually, we can easily pour out however much we want at a time.

Two jelly roll sheet pans fill a gallon-sized ziploc bag
The first method can also be used to get just a few berries at a time, but it involves whacking the bag on the counter's edge to break up the clump, and risks damaging the freezer bag. I wash and reuse all of our freezer bags until they're falling apart, so by preparing the berries in such a way that whacking is completely unnecessary, I extend the life of each bag. Plus, my daughters are super pleased to have everything easy for making smoothies or adding to jars of yogurt. And I like making things easier for everyone else.

The bonus in using the second method for freezing is that the berries actually freeze faster and preserve more of their nutrient value. That's always a good thing.

I will still freeze about half of the berries in clumps in quart-sized bags, as that's easy for me, and I can use those berries in many recipes. It's one of those things that doesn't have to be all or none. I can do some each way and still come out ahead.

6 comments:

live and learn said...

Your blackberry foraging reminds me of when we used to do it as kids. My father liked to pick and he would take us with him. We'd go early in the morning before it got too hot. But my mother wanted to be sure that we were protected from the thorns and snakes (copperheads) that were in the brambles, so we had to wear heavy pants and long sleeves. It was a hot endeavor, but the resulting blackberry cobbler was worth it. For a long time we didn't have a freezer, so we would can most of our berries, but froze some once we got a freezer using your second method.

ruthie said...

I love that you and your daughters work together on things like this. You have a great relationship.

A question off topic - have you ever made pita chips? I love them with hummus but a bag of them is pricey. Is it cost effective to make them out of pita bread? Just wondered if you have experimented with this.

Making Cents Of It All said...

I do the same thing after we go blueberry picking.

Lili said...

live and learn said...
Your blackberry foraging reminds me of when we used to do it as kids. My father liked to pick and he would take us with him. We'd go early in the morning before it got too hot. But my mother wanted to be sure that we were protected from the thorns and snakes (copperheads) that were in the brambles, so we had to wear heavy pants and long sleeves. It was a hot endeavor, but the resulting blackberry cobbler was worth it. For a long time we didn't have a freezer, so we would can most of our berries, but froze some once we got a freezer using your second method.


what a wonderful memory to have, live and learn. The heat isn't so much a problem for us, but the thorns can be very painful. Still, though, when I pop open a jar of homemade blackberry jam or take a blackberry pie out of the oven, all of those pricks are worth it.

Lili said...

ruthie said...
A question off topic - have you ever made pita chips? I love them with hummus but a bag of them is pricey. Is it cost effective to make them out of pita bread? Just wondered if you have experimented with this.


Thanks, Ruthie. Yes, I think we have a pretty great relationship. Plus, I think my daughters know that the mroe blackberries we pick, the more pies I will make!
Yes, I have made pita chips, using homemade pita bread. Homemade pita bread is fairly easy to make. It does get the kitchen hot, but homemade pitas are so much better than commercial ones -- they're chewy and not all dried out. I'll post the recipe that I use for pita tomorrow afternoon, if I can. If you have a really great place (low, low price) to buy pita bread, then baking your own pita chips might be worthwhile. My guess is 1 lb of fresh pita bread would yield 14 ounces of chips (drying out in the oven would reduce the weight, but not by a whole lot). Here's a calculation from Fred Meyer's prices: I can buy 33 ounce package of pita bread for $3.49. This would make about 30 ounces of pita chips, so about $1.86 for 16 ounces of chips. Add in about 10 cents for electricity, so roughly $2 per pound of chips. The best price on baked pita chips at Fred Meyer is an 18-oz bag for $6.99. That's $6.21 per pound for commercial pita chips. Making them yourself from commercial pita bread would save you $5 per pound. You could buy the most economical per pound package of pita bread and freeze it in portions just sized for a batch of pita chips. If you wanted to make your own pita bread (I'll post my recipe), you'd save even more. It just depends how much effort you want to put into making the chips. You'd still be saving quite a lot by buying the pita bread and making the baked chips yourself.

Hope this helps!

Lili said...

Making Cents Of It All said...
I do the same thing after we go blueberry picking.


I bet that works really well with blueberries, Marybeth. I think freezing on a sheet is good for any produce item that you want to be able to use just a little at a time, like pepper slices. Then you can grab just enough for whatever you're making.

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