I generally only get one morning to pick blackberries each year—two if I have a ton of time on my hands. This means we eat fresh berries every day for about a week. Since blackberries don’t stay fresh for long, I have to preserve the rest as fast as I can. For me, this means I freeze blackberries until I can pull them back out either for canning jams and sauces, or baking with them.
One of the most frustrating things I hear others complain about when it comes to freezing blackberries is that they are a solid mass of berry once they get pulled back out of the freezer.
Good news: Not only do I know how to freeze them so they come out of the freezer as individual berries, but I’m also going to share that with you. Don’t worry, it’s easy.
The most important step to freezing your blackberries is to wash them immediately when you get them home. Even if I get in late in the evening on picking day, I get to work cleaning them that night.
I gently put about one gallon of berries in a sink full of water with a little vinegar, and give them a swirl. After letting them soak for a few minutes, I drain them in a colander. In the past, I used to soak them for an hour, rinse them, and then repeat two more times with cold water.
I have found that if time gets away from me, a three hour soak just bloats the berries, and they will turn to mush. So I just do 20 minutes anymore.
After a good rinse in a colander, I’ll do a second soak for 20 minutes in plain cold water. Rinse a second time, and spread them out in a single layer over a towel. I let mine dry over night.
Lest you think this is a quick process, let me tell you I like to do 5-6 gallons and every inch of counter and table space is taken by towels full of berries.
I don’t gently pat mine dry with a towel like others suggest, because it’s just an extra step and I find that they are dry by morning. I just have to make sure everyone that gets up during the night doesn’t stop to nibble…
I read about freezing blackberries in books, and they always suggest to pick out and discard any soft or under-ripe berries. I don’t do this. The under-ripe berries are just fine for my taste for baking with and canning later. I do put all the soft ones in one area and freeze them together—I’ll use them to make spreads for scones in the next couple months.
Ready To Freeze Blackberries
The next morning when all the berries are dried, I set as many of them as I can on flat baking sheets, making sure they don’t touch. This actually doesn’t take as long as it sounds. Put a handful on the sheet, and then roll them around until they aren’t touching. They don’t have to be set in a pattern or anything.
Place them in the freezer for an hour, then pull them out and move them to a gallon bag. At this point, you can put them into their storage place in your freezer.
Repeat this process until all your berries are frozen. For me, it generally takes an entire day to get about 5 gallons of berries done.
It’s important not to simply toss all your berries in the gallon bag and then directly into the freezer. If you do this, they will form one big frozen blackberry-sickle.
It’s can be quite difficult to break them apart for use after this happens.
Proper Frozen Blackberry Storage
If you don’t use as many blackberries at a time as we do, then freeze them in smaller bags. And if you won’t use them quickly, you may consider using a sealing machine instead of freezer bags.
When frozen this way, I’ll be able to pull out the exact amount required for all of my blackberry needs in the coming year.
What’s your favorite way to use frozen blackberries? Leave me some good ideas in the comments.