It’s almost time to start wondering where you’re going to put your bountiful blackberry harvest for the winter. As soon as the berries start to appear, I begin thinking about how I’m going to make them last through the winter. Here are some fantastic ideas on ways to preserve blackberries. I hope you’ll find something that works for you!
Freezing Whole Berries
The secret to freezing berries so they don’t end up a mass of half mashed and half whole berries is to place them in freezer bags after they are frozen. Wash the berries and pat them dry. You want to make sure they are completely dry before putting them in the freezer. If you pick blackberries that are free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals, you could skip the washing portion and simply spread them out evenly on a cooking sheet covered with waxed paper. Lining the sheet with waxed paper will make it a lot easier to get all the berries off quickly, instead of having to scoop a few off at a time.
It will take a couple of hours for the berries to be completely frozen. Once you’re sure they are ready to pack, gently put them in plastic freezer bags. The best thing about freezing blackberries this way is you’ll be able to take out the amount of berries you want to thaw, instead of thawing out the entire bag.
Freezing Pureed Berries
If you enjoy making smoothies or want some smooshed berries to drizzle over a cheesecake, poundcake, or other dessert, then pureeing some blackberries and freezing them might be the way to go. The seeds can be left in the puree or strained out with sieve. Besides smoothies and dessert drizzle, pureed blackberries are also perfect for mixing with yogurt and making frozen yogurt treats. It’s probably best to make frozen yogurt goodies with freshly pureed blackberries instead of thawing out frozen puree and refreezing it with the yogurt.
I like to have a few empty ice cube trays on hand during the summer. I’ve used some for berry puree to create wonderful ice cubes that enhance my cup of lemonade. These lovely fruit cubes chill the lemonade without making it watery and the additional flavor is refreshing!
The great part about freezer jam is the process is a lot less involved than regular jam making. The final product is also a brighter color and I find the taste to be fresher as well. Purchase a package of pectin and follow the instructions on it for freezer jam.
Preserving blackberries in alcohol doesn’t require any cooking and it’s a simple way to make some of your berry crop last a bit longer. Combine 2 parts blackberries with 1 part brown sugar and cover this mix with 80 to 100 proof brandy, rum, or vodka. Be sure to cover the berries by at least an inch. This makes a great Christmas gift because it will need to set for a few months. A cool, dark place, such as the fridge, is best.
The final product can be used for all sorts of things. Mash up some of the berries with some powdered sugar to make a cake glaze. Add a few of the soaked blackberries to the bottom of a flute of champagne for a festive touch. Stir berries into your favorite muffin recipe. The berries also add a nice touch to the top of a whipped cream laden dessert. The possibilities are plentiful!
You can grow berries and more in your own backyard – you don’t even need much land. Learn how in
There’s nothing like freshly made blackberry syrup for a big stack of pancakes. You’ll get about 1 ½ C of juice from a pound of berries. It’s a multi-step process:
Crush the washed blackberries and place them in a stainless steel pot. Add ¼ C water per pound of fruit and bring the berries and water to a boil. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes with the lid on. After the cooked berries have cooled, strain the mix through cheesecloth.
In a cooking pot, combine the same number of cups of sugar as you do cups of berry juice. So, if you have 4 cups of blackberry juice, add 4 cups of sugar. For 4 cups each of sugar and berries, add ¼ C lemon juice. Simmer everything until the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and enjoy! If you have extra, you can have sterilized canning jars ready to pour the syrup into. For this method, be sure to process the canned syrup in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
When berry season arrives, don’t hesitate to pick all you can, now that you have multiple ways to preserve them. These preservation methods are also great ideas for when you find blackberries on sale. Don’t let them go to waste!
What do you use your preserved berries for?