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Freezing Blueberries

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emilief Aug 6, 2008 10:15 AM

We want to freeze some of the wonderful wild Maine blueberries which are now in season. What is best? Wash first? Just put in a plastic bag and freeze??
How long do they last in the freezer. Hoping not to cook them as we want to use them in cereal, not pies or cakes.

  1. s
    susan1353 Aug 6, 2008 01:13 PM

    Use the IQF (individually quick frozen) method. Wash them, pat them dry, then lay out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place in freezer until they're frozen, then put them into a plastic bag or container. If you just dump them into a bag, especially if they're wet, they'll freeze into a crystallized blobl.

    They should last at least three months. Lucky you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: susan1353
      r
      roro1831 Aug 6, 2008 01:32 PM

      The last time i froze some, i didn't wash them, dumped them into a ziploc bag and froze them. No problems whatsoever when it came time to eat them.

    2. r
      Richard L Aug 6, 2008 01:44 PM

      Alton Brown used crushed dry ice to freeze strawberries. He washed them, patted them dry and tossed them in a bowl with the crushed dry ice and then placed them in a cooler for 25-30 min. By putting them in a zip-loc while still in the cooler, the air in the bag had less oxygen since the CO2 is heavier than air.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Richard L
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        gfr1111 Aug 6, 2008 02:16 PM

        Also, Alton Brown said that the purpose of the dry ice was to freeze the berries in the shortest amount of time, by subjecting them to very low temperatures.

        If you just freeze the berries in your freezer, ice crystals have time to form, which are microscopically shard-like and the sharp shards puncture the cell walls of the berry. Then, when you defrost the berries, all the moisture (i.e., the juice) runs out of the individual cells and you get liquid at the bottom of the dish and limp berries.

        So, anyway, Mr. Brown's theory was that you should shoot those babies down to minus 200 degrees as fast as possible. Once the berries are frozen, then no shards will form and you can maintain them in their frozen state at normal freezer temperatures.

      2. d
        dct Aug 6, 2008 02:09 PM

        I put them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer until hard. I don't usually wash them first. I then measure out one cup portions and put each in a baggie and then the bunches of bags into a big ziploc.

        As for lasting--if you are using a regular refrigerator/freezer--3 months is about right. If you have a deep freeze you can get a good year or more out of them. FYI, once they thaw they will be mushier than fresh berries.

        I do the same thing with raspberries.

        2 Replies
        1. re: dct
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          brendastarlet Aug 6, 2008 02:26 PM

          I use the same method as DCT. No need to wash, especially since you are going to rinse them when you bring them back to life.

          Re Alton Brown: strawberries are a slightly different situation than blueberries or raspberries. There is much more liquid in a strawberry, and they are more fragile, so I can see the dry ice method. However, I did my strawberries the same way as my blueberries and they froze just fine.

          1. re: dct
            m
            morwen Aug 7, 2008 07:17 AM

            I use this method too. But this year, having fallen in love with my handi-vac, I put the frozen blueberries in vac bags and sucked the air out. One of the bags that I've since thawed turned out berries as fresh as the day they went in. Not drippy, or exploded, or overly delicate, but nice and firm. Don't know if this is because that bag was used a couple of weeks after freezing or if the vacuum pack made the difference. Will find out with the next bag I guess. I also did my strawberries this way but I haven't opened them yet. I save them for deep winter consumption.

          2. e
            emilief Aug 6, 2008 02:30 PM

            Thanks everyone for the help!

            1 Reply
            1. re: emilief
              r
              RosemaryHoney Aug 7, 2008 06:52 AM

              Just FYI: my brother, an obsessive follower of Alton Brown, tried the dry-ice method for freezing blueberries last summer. I didn't personally try any of his specially-frozen berries, so I can't comment, but he said the process was far more trouble than it was worth, and he didn't think it made that much of a difference.

              I just dump them into 1 pint freezer bags (unwashed) and toss them in our deep freezer. I pull out a bag every week or so and let them defrost in the fridge, so it doesn't matter if they are initially stuck in one big clump (this only happens sometimes, anyway). They are definitely more liquidy than fresh berries, but taste just great. They last virutally an entire year.

            2. happybellynh Aug 7, 2008 08:52 AM

              Cook's Illustrated advises against washing berries before freezing- I live in Maine and freeze blueberries every summer without washing (other berries too)- I just throw them in the ziploc, then the freezer, and they're ready to use for at least a year (just finished the last of mine in a pie in June). I do individually freeze strawberries, but I never have trouble with blueberries sticking together as long as they aren't washed first. No worries about drying without squishing, dry ice, ice crystals, etc.

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                RobertAndrews Apr 1, 2009 04:42 PM

                Alton's suggestion for the dry ice is the best, I'll admit... but how many of us remember to buy dry ice while at our local grocery. Here is a decent fall-back. Place a heavy duty baking pan in the freezer for several hours. Then, put the strawberries (halved or not... rounded side down) on the baking pan and freeze overnight. If you put them flat side down, they will adhere to the pan, but a bit of water run over the back of the pan will loosen them. There will still be some ice crystals, but the quick contact freezing will minimize this.

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