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Don’t turn your nose up at frozen berries. They can be sweeter than imported, out-of-season berries. Photo courtesy Wyman’s.
Some people turn up their noses at the thought of frozen berries. But they’re convenient year-round and in the off season, they’re economical and can be sweeter, too.
Picked at the peak of ripeness and flash-frozen within hours of harvest, they are just as nutritious as fresh berries.
Keep bags of fresh frozen berries in the freezer and pour out the amount you need. If you’re using the berries in baking or in a smoothie, there’s no need to defrost them. That especially goes for turning them into soft serve*.
For other uses—garnishing, salads, sundaes, yogurt—you’ll want to defrost the berries first. You can make them taste the best with proper defrosting.
Note that the defrosted berries will be more delicate than fresh berries. Handle them gently to keep their shape. Use thawed berries within two days.
If you’re not in a hurry, defrost the berries in the fridge. Slow defrosting generally maintains a better flavor and texture for any food item.
Place the berries in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. If you plan to eat them whole or use as a garnish, thaw them for four to six hours so they are still partially frozen and firm. Otherwise, you can let then thaw overnight.
Place the berries in a bowl and cover with cold water. Check in five minutes. If the berries are still frozen, drain and add fresh cold water.
Do not thaw berries in hot or warm water. The heat will cause the berries to release their juices and shrivel. It also provides an environment where harmful bacteria can grow.
DEFROSTING BERRIES WITH A MICROWAVE
The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission recommends microwave defrosting. Microwaves vary as to cooking times and berries differ in densities, so do a few small test batches to get the perfectly defrosted berry.
Use the defrost setting on your microwave to thaw berries.
Defrost in small batches, no more than a cup at a time.
Place berries atop a paper towel in a single layer, on a microwavable plate. Leave a good amount of space between the berries.
Set the time to 60 seconds for blackberries and large strawberries, 30 seconds for raspberries and small strawberries and 15 seconds for blueberries.
The microwaved berries should look lightly frosted—don’t overnuke or they’ll lose their shape.
Frozen berries. Photo courtesy Thinng.com.
Taste a berry. If it’s too frozen, microwave another 10 seconds. Alternatively, you can leave the berries on the counter to finish defrosting at room temperature.
HOW TO FREEZE FRESH BERRIES
When berries are in season, look for the best prices and freeze your own to enjoy when the fruit is out of season.
SPREAD the berries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Freeze.
MOVE the frozen berries to a freezer bag or other airtight container.
DEFROST berries in a bowl, either in the fridge overnight or at room temperature.
*You can use a food processor, but we get far better results from the Yonanas machine. It’s a great way to turn fruit into frozen dessert as you control the amount and type of sweetener.
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