Keep your berries fresh and delicious for longer with these tips.
Even though summer is coming to an end, berries are still plentiful in food stores and outdoor markets. While some varieties, like wild blueberries, may be nearing the end of their season, other types, like blackcurrants, gooseberries, redcurrants, cloudberries, lingonberries, and cranberries, can still be found in certain locations.
We discussed three tips for preparing for berry picking in the Finnish Forests. However, it is also possible to buy berries from supermarkets in large amounts, such as big boxes of four or five kilos or you can also purchase berries from a local supplier.
Clean, wash, and dry berries
When purchasing berries from the store, it's advisable to thoroughly clean and wash them before storing them in the freezer. Sometimes, small bugs, insects, or flies can be found in the berries, along with leaves or branches. However, these are usually kept clean before being placed in the packaging. To wash the berries, use strong running water and allow them to drain and dry before transferring them to containers or bags. Additionally, for strawberries, remove the caps by cutting them off.
When gathering berries, it's crucial to handle them delicately to prevent flattening. A speedy wash before storing should suffice if the berries are already clean. However, to skip the washing process, select a clean area like a forest far from pollution to pick the berries. To preserve the berries' freshness, storing them in freezer containers is essential.
Berries are an abundant source of vitamin C and antioxidants and can be conveniently stored in the freezer without sugar. Blueberries, lingonberries, and cranberries are exceptionally robust. However, soft berries like strawberries and raspberries may require some sugar to maintain their color and flavor. Opt for unrefined brown sugar, which is readily available in most food stores, for a healthier option. Some believe that adding sugar to certain foods can help to maintain their color and flavor while reducing vitamin loss.
Hand-pick the berries.
When picking berries such as blueberries and lingonberries, it's usually faster and easier to use a rake tool, but it requires more work to clean them afterward. It's better to pick the berries clean from the forest to save time and avoid picking up leaves and branches. While this may be a slower process, it will make cleaning and storing the berries in the freezer much easier.
Containers with lids
It's essential to have suitable containers, like big buckets with lids, to protect the berries and prevent them from dropping while being transported. It is important to note that berries should not be exposed to direct sunlight or high temperatures for an extended period. This helps to maintain their aroma and flavor while also preserving them.
Organize freezer space
In the summertime, supermarkets often offer box containers perfect for storing berries in the freezer. By purchasing these containers, you can keep your berries organized and save space in the freezer. If you have extra room, it's a good idea to also use mini grip bags to store any remaining berries. These bags have a flat surface shape that allows them to be stacked on top of the containers in the freezer, maximizing the use of space and electricity.
Berries can be preserved either whole or mashed.
Freezing berries can preserve them either whole or mashed, depending on personal preference. When mashed, more berries can fit into the containers, while keeping them whole results in fewer berries per container. And it also depends on how we would like to use them afterward in winter. If using them for fruit salad, for example, it is better to keep them as a whole. If using them to make smoothies or juices, one can mash them as well, although it is possible to use the whole ones for making smoothies in the blender.
Label the containers
It is important to label the containers of frozen berries with their specific type. You can use a special pen designed for labeling freezer containers or a good-quality pen that writes well on labels. This will help you quickly identify the type of berry when you need to use them later.
Freeze berries quickly
It's important to freeze your berries quickly and avoid leaving them out too long. Place them in the coldest part of the freezer, with the bottom of the containers touching the cold surface of the freezer shelves. You can adjust the freezer's temperature to a very cold setting to speed up the freezing process. After several hours, you can return the freezer to its original temperature.
If you want to enjoy the unique and nutritious flavors of Finnish berries all year, preserving them is a great idea. For some delicious recipes, you could try Queen's Jam- Kuningatar Hillo, Rhubarb-strawberry kisel and blueberry pie.