The kids and I went to do our annual blueberry picking for the year. Our blueberry picking wasn’t half as successful as last year. I think we had a few things operating against us this year.
1. I just was there to take pictures.
2. Emily was just there to eat all of the blueberries.
3. Ethan thought blueberry picking was boring.
4. Extreme heat and lots of hot sun.
The only thing that pulled us through all of that…the fact that we were dropped off on a tractor and there was no way to get back until the tractor came around again. Oh, and Sonic happy hour bribery. Making. Memories. (said through gritted teeth).
We managed to gather two measly pounds of berries and next year I may just go with the people who really want to go (which might mean a solo operation) or I will pick at dusk and take advantage of the picking in the evening hours. I went ahead and splurged for the five pound box of picked berries and we all headed home sweaty and still a little whiny.
This year I decided to freeze our berries and only kept the two pounds aside that we had picked together for snacking and making things with. The rest of the berries went into the freezer for that long Indiana winter and so we could enjoy them through the colder seasons.
I decided to follow the Cook’s Illustrated guidelines for freezing berries this year. In years past, I just threw the berries on a cookie sheet, froze them, and then tossed them into marked bags for later consumption. Cook’s Illustrated is my Bible for cooking and they claim that the best consistency for blueberries is if they have been frozen with sugar. They froze six different kinds of fruit, tried seven different methods of freezing on each fruit, stuck them in the freezer for six months, and then tasted them. I certainly don’t have the time or inclination to take on a task like that and that is why I absolutely love Cook’s Illustrated!
If you are worried about the sugar, it is just meant to help keep the fruit’s shape and texture. When you want to eat the berries, you just rinse the sugar off and enjoy the optimal taste of the fruit.
Step One- Rinse the berries and lightly pat to dry.
Step Two- Toss 4 pints (or 8 cups) blueberries with two cups of sugar until the berries are coated evenly.
Step 3- Add two cups of berries into quart-sized freezer bags and freeze bags on a cookie sheet.
This morning, I just rinsed the berries for a breakfast treat and they taste fantastic. No mushiness at all and all of the sugar rinsed off easily. They held their shape and have a little better consistency then frozen alone. I would definitely recommend this method of freezing especially if you enjoy eating the berries alone!
All of the rest of the berries are happily waiting in the freezer for those future winter months and I am proud that not a single berry was wasted.
At the end of the blueberry picking day and at the end of all of our grumbling, I snapped this picture before we headed to the car.
That one moment and one picture made the whole trip worth it. This what am choosing to remember about our blueberry picking day. We were all together and we love each other no matter what.
Are you freezing fruit this year? What is your recommendation and tried and true recipes for freezing the summer’s bounty?