I just finished picking wild blackberries last weekend and of course I got more than I could use at one time so I needed a way to preserve them. Freezing is my preferred way to preserve most fruit and berries. The process itself is pretty simple but there are a few tips that will help you out.
The first thing to do is to make sure you wash your fruit or berries well, especially if you are using wild picked berries. I like to dump them in a sink full of water and let them soak for a little while (about 15 minutes or so) to get any leaves, sticks, and dirt off. Once washed, put the berries or fruit in a colander to drain. They don’t need to be completely dry but you don’t want them dripping wet either. If you are using fruit like apples or bananas cut them into smaller slices (about 1/4 inch thick).
You could just put the fruit into bags or containers at this point and stick it in the freezer but you will end up with a big block of frozen fruit when you are ready to use it and it will take a long time to thaw. To prevent this from happening, get a long shallow pan (or several depending on how much fruit you have) and line it with wax paper. Lay the fruit slices or berries out in a single layer in the pan. The wax paper is not absolutely necessary but it does help with keeping the fruit from sticking to the pan and makes it easier to remove once frozen. If you don’t have wax paper you can use a clean kitchen towel but it will probably stain depending on what you are freezing.
Stick the pans in the freezer for a few hours. I cross stack mine so I can put several in the freezer at a time. As long as there is some space between the trays you will be fine (you can use a long kitchen knife between trays to elevate one if needed). I generally leave my trays in the freezer over night but they will probably be frozen within 3 or 4 hours depending on how thick your fruit is.
Once frozen, remove the fruit or berries and put them in bags or containers for long term storage. By using the method above, you will be able to easily remove a few pieces of fruit at a time if needed and it will thaw much quicker. If you use a FoodSaver vacuum sealer like I do pre-freezing your berries will prevent them from being crushed and will keep the juice from the berries from causing issues with the vacuum process.
One more thing that works well for me is to portion out what you are freezing. For blackberries I tend to put them in bags of 4 cup portions because both my cobbler recipe and my jelly recipe call for 4 cups of berries. This makes it easier to thaw just what I need and not have any waste. If you are freezing for smoothies you may want to do smaller portions (or even consider freezing your fruit in ice cube trays before packaging to make convenient single serve sizes).
As always, I hope you found this post useful. Please feel free to share any tips that you have for preserving fruit.