6 steps to freezing ripe summer berries for smoothies all year 'round
No food screams summer quite like ripe and juicy berries, but their season is so fleeting. Thank goodness for freezers. Not only do they hold ice cream and your stash of expertly curated frozen pizza (or FroPi, as the cool kids/no one but me says), they'll also preserve your berries so you can still get a taste of that summer sunshine when you're 6 feet under — the snow, that is.
You're just six steps away from enjoying fresh berries this winter.
1. Trim your berries
Prepare your berries for freezing by picking off any bits of stems or leaves and, in the case of strawberries, removing the hull.
2. Wash your berries (unless they're blue)
Wash your berries thoroughly before freezing them. The exception to this rule is blueberries — washing them before freezing can result in tough skins. Instead, make sure they're free of stem pieces, large clumps of dirt and leaves, and make sure you remember to wash them when you eventually take them out of the freezer.
3. Dry your berries
You want to make sure your berries are very dry before freezing them so they don't freeze in clumps and so that when you do go to cook them, they don't water down whatever you are using them for.
To thoroughly dry your berries, set them in a salad spinner that's been lined with paper towels, then spin until dry. If you don't have a salad spinner, just dry them by rolling them lightly over two to three layers of paper towel.
4. Freeze berries in a single layer
Freeze your berries in a single layer on a parchment-lined jelly roll pan, trying to make sure no berries are touching.
5. Move to a container
Once your berries are mostly frozen, transfer them from the jelly roll pan to an airtight container or zip-top bag.
6. Label and date
Use masking tape to create a label for your container or bag, and write what it is you're freezing, along with the date. In general, berries are their best if used within six months, but they're still safe to consume for up to a year or longer.
There you have it! Best of all, frozen berries don't need to be thawed before using them in everything from coffeecake and muffins to jams and jellies. Just throw them into your pot, bowl or pan, and you're good to go.