Really good blackberries are firm and sweet, and they also seem to decay about five minutes after you pick or buy them. That makes stocking up during an in-season sale or saving the bounty growing in your yard rather difficult. Jokes about eating too many berries aside, there are only so many blackberries you really can eat. Freezing blackberries is very easy, but you have to know what to look for in the berries as well as figuring out which freezing method is best for your needs.
Key to successful freezing here is finding berries that are intact. Wash the berries, and as your washing and drying them, sort through them to find ones that aren’t mushy and that don’t have burst drupelets. Separate the berries into three groups — the mushy/burst ones, some perfect ones for eating fresh, and the rest for freezing.
Three Ways to Freeze
You’ve got a choice of ways to freeze these. The most basic is to spread the berries out onto a flat pan and freeze them until firm, later transferring them into a sealable bag to finish freezing. Depending on how many berries you have, the size of the berries, the size of your freezer, and the amount of space available in there, you might have to do this in batches every few hours.
Image used under Creative Commons from Mr.TinDC
Blackberries can also be frozen using the dry sugar pack method. This is done in a similar manner to the basic freezing method except each quart of berries is mixed with about 1/2 cup of sugar. Southern Living says the sugar helps preserve the texture and color of the berries. The one caveat is that the sugar can make things a little messy — do not use this method if you have to stand in front of a fan or other strong air flow!
You can also use a syrup pack for blackberries. Southern Living says to mix 2 1/2 cups of sugar into 1 quart of cold water. Divide the berries into the serving sizes you want, be those cups, ounces, or number of berries, and place in containers. Add the syrup, clean the rims of the containers, cover, and freeze.
Stick the berries in the refrigerator to thaw for a few hours. If you’re thawing a syrup pack, it might take longer to thaw depending on the size of the block. For basic frozen berries, you can also eat those while mostly frozen. Give bigger berries a few minutes at room temperature to soften, though, so you have an easier time biting through them.
Thawed blackberries don’t always end up soft and mushy like other thawed berries. Blackberries that were frozen while ripe and firm can stay rather firm, though they won’t be exactly like fresh berries. Use thawed berries that were frozen using the basic method for eating straight out of a bowl, or toss them into cakes, pies, ice cream, and dessert or pancake toppings.