Friday, August 15, 2014

Freezing Berries

Besides being easy to preserve (just two steps!), summer berries taste delicious in the winter. I use frozen berries in a variety of dishes, including baked goods and pastries, sauces, smoothies and occasionally... margaritas!

When thawed, frozen berries will rend water. To avoid overly wet cakes, I use recipes where thawing isn't required. I've included one of my faves: Blueberry Buckle, a tender cake loaded with berries and topped with a lemony, cinnamon crumble.

Although we have about a dozen blueberry bushes, they're too young to produce many berries. Instead, we purchased about 10 pounds of big, sweet berries from a local grower. By volume, that's equal to about two gallons.

Freezing berries in a single layer prevents the berries from freezing in a mass, ensuring you'll be able to pull out just the amount you need. The method below can be used with most kinds of berries. We also grow and freeze strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

Wash & dry berries and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Place tray in the freezer overnight.

When berries are frozen, remove to a ziplock freezer bag.
Place in freezer and use within one year. Easy peasy!

No need to thaw before using to make Blueberry Buckle.
Just scoop what you need from your freezer bag!
Frozen berries will hold their shape in baked goods. No more purple batter!

Buckle is perfect for dessert, breakfast or with afternoon tea.

Berry Freezing Process
Wash berries and place on a kitchen towel in a single layer. Gently pat dry. Place berries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place pan, uncovered, in freezer overnight. Next day, remove frozen berries to a ziplock freezer bag. Date bag, place in freezer and use within one year.

Blueberry Buckle
From King Arthur Flour

  • Crumb topping:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • Cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9" square or 9" round cake pan. If you use a round pan, make sure it's at least 2" deep.
Make the topping: Mix the sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt in a small bowl. Cut or rub in the butter with a fork or your finger tips until it reaches a crumbly state. Set aside.
Make the cake: Blend the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla. Alternately add the milk and the flour mixture to the sugar/butter mixture, ending with flour. Fold in blueberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping over the batter.
Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: about 12 to 16 servings.
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