I love summertime when the berries start to ripen; the home-grown ones just taste so much better than store bought (and cost a lot less too). As they ripen, and we pick, I make sure we have some of that fresh summer flavor preserved for those cold, dark winter days. And today, with the advent of vacuum sealing, we can freeze them whole (without worrying about freezer burn), and use them later for whatever strikes our fancy – cobblers, pies, jams, muffins, pancakes – you get the idea.
We vacuum pack strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries; but the process is the same for berries of all types (blueberries, gooseberries, loganberries, saskatoons, cranberries, etc.). And it’s one of the easiest ways to put up fruit for the winter. All you need is the berries, vacuum sealer, and bags.
- First, start with the best, freshest berries you can find. Just picked (early morning for peak flavor) berries harvested at peak maturity, and processed immediately are the best.
- Gently wash the berries, remove any leaves and too soft berries, and lay out on towels to dry. Make sure they are dry before the next step or they will stick together. For strawberries, they also need to be hulled (green cap removed) at this step.
- Spread the berries out in a single layer on large sheet pans, and put them in the freezer overnight. This way they freeze individually, so later you can use only what’s needed without thawing the rest.
- After they are thoroughly frozen, vacuum pack them in convenient quantities according to your vacuum sealers instructions. Because they are frozen, you don’t have to worry about your vacuum sealer crushing them.
- Label the bags (with contents and date), put them in the freezer, and when you are ready for some fresh summertime flavor – thaw and use!
The fresh raspberry/blackberry cobblers and strawberry shortcake we enjoyed last winter (hot from the oven – with ice cream), still make my mouth water……………….