Blackberries are a delicious and nutritious snack, as well as a great addition to any fresh baking recipe. Unfortunately, they’re only ripe for a few weeks out of the year.
Freezing them is one method of making your berries last all year long, but it’s important to know the proper technique so that they stay as fresh and delicious as when you first bought or picked them.
Step 1: Wash
Place your batch of blackberries in a colander and gently rinse them in cold water. Try not to be too rough with the berries, as they tend to break and mash easily. But make sure to wash as thoroughly as possible. Allow the excess water to drain through the colander thoroughly. Gently pat the berries dry with a soft towel or paper towel.
Step 2: Separate
Remove any questionable berries from the batch. This could include berries that have gone bad, are underripe, or are damaged or broken. You’ll only want to freeze the very best of the berries for best results.
Step 3: Flash Freeze
A method called “flash freezing” is the most effective way to freeze your blackberries. Lay them out in a single layer with none of them touching each other on a metal baking tray, lined with parchment paper (Amazon). This will avoid the issue of them freezing into a giant block and breaking apart later when you try to break up the block.
Definitely do not forget the parchment paper, as the berries could freeze onto the baking tray otherwise. To double your space, lay a layer of parchment paper on top of the berries and lay out another batch of berries.
Let them freeze in this formation overnight to ensure they are as individually frozen as possible. Make sure they are on a level surface so that they don’t roll together and freeze into a block. Remove them after an overnight period – otherwise they may develop freezer burn.
Step 4: Store
Once your berries are thoroughly frozen, pour them into a plastic freezer bag from Amazon. Bags with thick plastic are best, since they prevent freezer burn the most effectively. You’ll also want to squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing and placing in the freezer for storage. If you have a vacuum-sealing device, that’ll work best.
This French pie dish at Amazon
is perfect for your blackberry pie.
Alternative Method: Sweeten
Sweetening your blackberries before freezing them makes them last in the freezer longer than unsweetened berries, and also is more effective at preserving the natural color and texture of the berries.
After washing, rinsing, drying, and separating the berries as described, place them into a large mixing bowl and add ½ to ¾ cups of sugar for every 4 cups of berries. Mix gently until the berries are coated in sugar, being careful not to mash or break the berries. The natural moisture from the berries will combine with the sugar to make a syrup-like substance that should effectively coat the blackberries.
Place them into an airtight container or freezer bags, and store in the freezer. There’s no need to flash freeze sweetened berries separately, as the sweet syrup will keep them separate while frozen.
How Long Do They Last?
Sweetened blackberries will last at their best quality for about 9 month in the freezer. Unsweetened berries will last in this condition for at least 6 months. They will still be safe to eat for months or even years after this time, but for the best results, use them within this timeframe.
These glass containers at Amazon
make great frozen berry storage.
Uses for Frozen Blackberries
Besides taking them out for a quick fruity snack, frozen blackberries can also be used in place of fresh blackberries in almost all baking recipes, from blackberry pie to fruit tarts and more.
If you do decide to use them for baking, there are a few things to keep in mind. You almost never need to thaw the berries before using them (unless you’re making a liquid dish with them), as this can lead to extra water in the recipe and can ruin the final product. If you’re concerned about presentation, you’ll also want to roll your frozen blackberries in flour in order to prevent bleeding and discoloration of the rest of the ingredients.
While blackberries aren’t always available at the store, these tips will help you preserve your delicious blackberries for use all year round!