I have a thing for berries. Fresh berries. Fresh LOCAL berries. I love to eat them, I love to smell them, I love to look at them, I love to freeze them and save them to use in the middle of winter when we need a little shot of summer sunshine. I do this every year, and it’s great because you can buy local, you know what you’re getting with your berries (i.e. no sugar), and it saves money. Sometimes buying local berries isn’t cheaper, but I don’t really care. It’s so worth it to get berries that actually taste like the berry they’re purporting to be. Now is the time to buy your local berries and freeze them for use next winter.
Grandma and Grandpa had a black raspberry bush that grew by their machine shed on the farm, and gave beautiful tiny deep purple, sweet, juicy berries every summer. I would help pick them, trying to avoid getting the scratches that would inevitably wrap around my wrists because I couldn’t go slow and be careful – I had to hurry so I could get them in my mouth!!! Even with the scratches, it was so fun to pick those berries and then get to EAT them! Those berries were so good on ice cream.
My daughter and I were on the deck at my mom’s place on the afternoon of the 4th of July when one of her neighbors walked by and asked, “Are you raspberry people?” We vigorously indicated that we were indeed. She said, “I have more raspberries than I can eat – feel free to go up and pick some.” We thanked her profusely, and my mom and I immediately went up and picked! Excuse the not so-great-cell phone photos here, but I didn’t have my good camera with me and I HAD to take pictures of this neighbor’s BEAUTIFUL berries!!!
They look like little jewels hanging from the lush, green bushes – and these bushes were LOADED!
We so enjoyed having the berries on ice cream that night, that I totally forgot to take photos of them ON the ice cream! We also enjoyed them on our cereal the next morning, and my daughter picked a few more to take home with her before we left.
We didn’t take any raspberries to freeze, and left the rest of the berries for my mom to enjoy. They were stunningly gorgeous berries. So beautiful.
The next week, I was able to find a farm nearby (actually about 45 minutes away) where you can pick your own strawberries. Unfortunately, they weren’t allowing you to pick-your-own anymore, but they would pick them for you!! I immediately ordered a 6 quart flat and my husband and I picked them up the next day, took them home, and prepared them for freezing.
The farm is called Lorences Berry Farm and I would HIGHLY recommend them! They have asparagus in the spring, strawberries in July, and raspberries in August and September. I can’t wait to go back in August and try their raspberries, too (plus get enough to put in the freezer).
I mean, come on!!! These berries are so beautiful, so sweet, so red, so tasty, so strawberry-y!!!!! I take off the green tops, wash them, and lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Into the freezer they go! I usually let them freeze overnight so they’re good and solid.
Once they’re frozen solid, just take them off of the baking sheet and put them into freezer bags in whatever quantity you want or need. I don’t use them for anything special so I just fill the bags nearly full and measure them out later. Freezing them in a single layer allows you to pack them up and keep them in the freezer without them turning into a frozen brick of berries. You can then just take out as many as you need to use at any one time. They don’t come out as firm as they were when they went in, but they can be used for smoothies, pie, jams, pancake topping, the list goes on and on!
I store them in zip top freezer bags, but you could also use freezer containers (BPA free, of course). In June I try to get some blueberries in the freezer, too, when they’re in season and less expensive. Any kind of berry can be frozen using this technique. I don’t know if Grandma ever got to freeze any of those black raspberries to have the next winter. They were probably all eaten in the summer. You HAVE to go out and get some local berries. You seriously won’t believe how good they are (and good for you)!