I posted this picture a week ago on my blog, and I am still getting questions about how my berries come out of the freezer in berry shape, and not mushy. And since I am pressed for time (milking two cows instead of one) I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and answer here since I cannot think of a single thing interesting to write about!
Anyone over the age of about 40 living in the Pacific Northwest probably had to pick berries for a summer job. I started at age 9 and picked all types of berries until I could get a job at the local tourist trap, Multnomah Falls. To be a good berry picker we had to be careful with the berries, if we turned in mushy, dirty or unripe berries our meager pay was docked. Wanting to earn money to fuel my jerky and comic book habit, I was careful with my bumper. The cans we picked in were called bumpers, but they were actually No. 10 cans with holes cut in them and a rope to tie around your waist. We were instructed to not bounce the can on our legs, and to take it off when taking it to the crate to dump, so as not to jostle the berries.
I used a can opener to make these holes in this coffee can. It’s a great way to re-purpose a coffee can and gives me an excuse to drink copious amounts of coffee.
Our procedure for freezing raspberries (or any berries for that matter) is pretty simple: we pick a can and then gently place the berries in freezer bags immediately, and freeze. I do not wash the berries, and I don’t mess with individually freezing them on cookie sheets.
♥ Pick in a small enough container that your berries don’t get crushed.
♥ If you are picking at a u-pick farm, place your berries in shallow crates or boxes for transporting home.
♥ Plan on dealing with them right away – a hot summer day in the trunk of car can be murder on soft fruits. Make the berry picking/buying your last stop of the day.
♥ If you’re just planning your berry garden, read the descriptions carefully, you may want to buy a variety that touts it’s processing qualities. In berry lingo, good for processing usually means a concentrated crop and a firm berry.
Don’t worry about sacrificing taste for good processing quality – I don’t think anyone who likes to eat berries has met one that doesn’t taste good. And they taste especially good in the winter when summer is just memory we are clinging to.