Photo: Hector Sanchez
There's nothing quite as soul-crushing as eating an out-of-season berry. That's why we capture the cobbler-sweet taste of the locally grown jewels by freezing them at their peak. Berries frozen with sugar better retain their color and texture, while those frozen without are perfect for adding to quick breads or cakes.
Just before freezing, gently wash berries in cool water, and pat them dry with paper towels. Remove and discard stems, leaves, and any under-ripe or damaged fruit. Pick one of the methods below, or mix and match. No matter how you freeze 'em, we guarantee you'll never be tempted to buy bland again.
1. Sliced, Crushed, or Pureed Berries
Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar per quart of berries; gently stir until sugar dissolves. Spoon into plastic freezer jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims clean; secure lids. Freeze up to 12 months.
Best Uses: Top off shortcakes, stir into yogurt, layer in an ice-cream parfait.
2. Dry Sugar Pack
Pat 1 quart of berries just until damp. Gently toss with 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar. Place in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan; freeze until firm. Pack into plastic freezer containers; cover and seal. Freeze up to 12 months.
Best Uses: Add frozen berries to cobblers or pies, stir into pancake batter.
3. Quick Freeze
Place berries in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan; freeze until firm. Pack into zip-top plastic freezer bags, leaving 1-inch headspace. Squeeze out excess air; seal and freeze up to 8 months.
Best Uses: Add frozen berries to muffin, cake, or quick bread batter; spoon over oatmeal or cereal.
4. Syrup Pack
Stir together 1 quart cold water and 2 1/2 cups sugar until sugar dissolves. Pack berries in wide-mouth canning jars; cover with syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims clean; secure lids. Freeze up to 12 months.
Best Uses: Thaw in fridge; drain, reserving syrup, and use like fresh berries.