Summer Berries in Winter
The worst part of summer eating is that it ends! But it doesn’t have to! So have no fear, we’ve got some DIY help for keeping your summer berries available in your kitchen long after the season has passed.
There is nothing better than fresh, local grown Washington State berries! And during their seasons, we have them in abundance at Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce. But what do you do when the season ends and you’re left searching for the best available fruits from season’s past? We have an idea that will save you time and money, and allow the fresh taste of summer on into the Pacific Northwest fall and winter.
Flats to Freezer
One of the many benefits of buying the freshest, local grown produce available, is that the farmer’s flats of summer berries become Tacoma Boys’ flats of summer berries, and they can easily become your flats too! So buy the full flat, and head home ready for a few simple steps to ensuring berries well beyond season.
Assuming you don’t own a separate deep freezer, we suggest that you buy no less than a single flat of berries, but buy as much as you can make room for in your freezer. After the first couple of steps are completed, you will actually make much more room in your freezer. But for this first step, take your full flat of berries and place the entire thing on a shelf in your freezer. If you cannot find the room for the full box to fit, remove the individual containers from the flat and place them wherever you can make room. Just be sure they are in a spill-proof spot for a few hours.
Freezing Does More Than ‘Keep’
The freezing point on berries depends on their size and the relative temperature they’ve been kept at, but it’s a minor difference at most. So just assume that you need 2-3 hours of freeze time, but longer than that never hurts.
Most of what we are giving you here is practical steps to safely, simply store your frozen berries, but there are also some additional reasons to freeze those berries:
Fresh picked, local grown berries are the most healthy options for several reasons. But most notably, buying Washington State produce ensures that less hands have handled the berries, produce was picked at peak ripeness and delivered as quickly as possible, and in the case of berries, they haven’t lost as many nutrients from being off of the vine for very long.
Additionally, freezing the fruits does not harm their nutritional value, and can even guarantee that you lock in the freshness that is often lost in larger chain stores from overhandling and delayed transportation to the consumer. So if the blueberries were picked in the early Washington State morning, during the mid to late summer season, picked up and delivered to all of our locations within a few hours of that same day, and frozen at your home later that day, you’ve basically secured the most nutrient rich berries you could possibly eat without actually being on the farm. And you could be enjoying those Washington State berries months after peak season has come and gone, all because you froze them.
Frozen, Chosen, and Repackaged
Once the berries have been frozen through, pull out a carton at a time. As quickly as you can, remove stems and leaves, and then place all the berries into one sealable, zip-top bag. Repeat these steps for every carton in your flat. And once you have all of those frozen berries repackaged, storage becomes much easier.
And really, that is all there is to safely, quickly securing summer berries for the colder months. So here are some ideas for how to use those berries.
Quick Use and Cooking Too
Having a freezer full of fresh berries offers so many culinary options. Obviously, there are endless uses for these frozen berries because great food is always great food!
First, shakes and smoothies! And you can now avoid adding ice, which waters down your shakes, because you have those frozen berries to keep the mix cold. As a tip, blend your powders, liquids, and other ingredients first, then add those berries in. This gives your drinks a thicker, smoother texture.
But frozen berries in baked goods is a small stroke of genius! The water content of fruit makes baking with fresh berries tricky. But frozen fruits actually lose some of their water content, and this works perfect with berries and baking. So now you can enjoy fresh fruit without worrying that the moisture will work against your batters and mixes.
And lastly, jams, jellies, and chutneys! Oh my!! Imagine the possibilities of pairing year end produce with fresh jams made with fresh, frozen berries from seasons that have already passed. The flavors and combinations will make your meals a hit, whether you’re feeding the family or hosting a party.
And all of these opportunities are available to you because you bought local grown, fresh berries at your local Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce, and froze them at home to ensure the freshest berries for as long as possible. So please do enjoy all the fruits of your labor.