Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Washing and Freezing Berries

The long wait is over - the raspberries are ready! My parents are the ones with the large patch that we all help maintain. From the time that we prune them all down in early Spring the kids are always asking, "When will we get to pick raspberries?" The variety my parents have are not everbearers. They only produce for about 3 weeks of the summer, beginning near the 4th of July and continuing through the month. We have to pick about every 2 days.
 I have 6 siblings who live in town so we each take a different day to help Grandpa pick the patch. My dad is a hard worker. He can't stand to see someone else working without jumping in to help so he is in the patch every couple of days all month long! He considers it his precious time with his grand kids. The last time we picked, we got 15 pints! With the price of raspberries in our area that is about $45 worth! Knowing they get 10-12 of those pickings during the peak of the season makes it well worth the work.

When I wash the berries, I've learned to put one cup or so in a bowl with some cool water. You could use your sink, but my back starts to hurt leaning over so long and the bowl on my counter is a better height for me. Swish the berries around in the water and remove any weeds or debris. I also sort the berries by pulling out the ones that are not quite as red. I set these aside and allow them to ripen another day or two on the counter. We usually end up just eating these fresh - they are just too tempting! I've learned to set one of the berry cups in the sink to put my washed berries in to drain a bit. (You can see it just barely in the right side of the picture above.) Change your water as needed.
Once washed you can place in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze or put in a food processor to puree. Once frozen, move the berries to a ziplock bag for longer storage. I use frozen berries in yogurt smoothies all year long. Sometimes I collect them until I have enough to make jam if it happens to be a smaller picking.

This time, I opted to puree them and then freeze the puree until I have time to make jam - the puree is already pre-measured so jam making will go quickly another day.

This method of washing and freezing berries works with all berries. Our blackberry patch that we started last year is off to a good start, but we are only getting a handful or so a day so we are collecting them in the freezer for later.

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