Blackberries are a delicious summer fruit that has a short growing season. When blackberry season hits, the bounty can feel endless.
Before you know it, you might have more blackberries than you know what to do with! Freezing is a great way to preserve fresh blackberries so you can enjoy them all year.
Here’s a complete guide on how to freeze blackberries so you can capture their fresh flavor for months to come.
Should you freeze blackberries?
Freezing is an excellent way to extend the lifespan of fresh blackberries. The freezing process stops the ripening process in its tracks, allowing frozen blackberries to maintain peak flavor, texture, and nutritional value. While fresh is best, frozen blackberries are a close second.
Some key advantages to freezing blackberries include:
- Long-term storage: Properly frozen blackberries can be stored for 8–12 months.
- Convenience: Frozen berries are ready to use straight from the freezer whenever you need them.
- Flavor and texture retained: The quick freeze locks in fresh, ripe flavor, vibrant color, and firm texture.
- Nutrient retention: Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are preserved compared to other preservation methods.
- Cost savings: Buy in bulk when prices are low and freeze extra berries for savings.
For these reasons, most people find freezing an easy and convenient way to enjoy fresh-tasting blackberries all year.
How to Choose Blackberries for Freezing
Picking high-quality, ripe blackberries is the key to delicious frozen berries. Follow these tips when selecting blackberries to freeze:
- Choose firm, plump berries with a deep black color and glossy sheen. Avoid mushy or dull-looking berries.
- Avoid underripe berries that are entirely red. Ideal ripeness has a jet black color with no traces of red.
- Select smaller berries, which tend to be sweeter and less seedy than larger varieties.
- Try to pick or purchase freshly picked local berries, which have superior flavor and freeze better.
- Sort through berries and discard any that are moldy, damaged, or overripe.
By carefully selecting peak-of-season blackberries, you’ll get delicious frozen results.
How to Prepare Blackberries for Freezing
Proper preparation is important for maintaining the quality of frozen blackberries.
Here are the key steps:
- Gently wash berries under cool running water to remove any dirt or debris. Taking care not to crush the delicate berries.
- Pat the berries dry thoroughly using a clean paper towel or kitchen towel. Remaining moisture can cause frozen berries to become icy or stuck together.
- Pick off any stems or leaves still attached to the berries. Trim any crushed or damaged portions.
- Lay berries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer for 1-2 hours, until hardened. This quick freeze prevents berries from sticking together when bagged.
- Once hardened, transfer the berries to an airtight freezer bag or container, removing as much air as possible. This protects against freezer burn over long-term storage.
- Label bags with contents and dates for easy identification, and return them to the freezer immediately.
Following this process ensures you’ll have great-tasting blackberries to enjoy any time!
How long do frozen blackberries last?
When properly stored, blackberries typically last 8 to 12 months in the freezer. To maximize frozen berry lifespan:
- Use high-quality, ripe, fresh berries, as described above.
- Freeze berries as soon as possible after picking or purchasing them.
- Keep freezer temperatures consistent at 0°F or below. Temperature fluctuations degrade quality over time.
- Use moisture-proof freezer bags or containers to prevent freezer burn. Squeeze out excess air.
- Avoid overfilling bags, which can lead to crushing or damage over time. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace.
- Inspect bags periodically, and use frozen berries within the recommended timeframe. Discard any berries showing signs of decay.
Following these guidelines will help you get the longest-lasting frozen blackberries. But for the best quality and flavor, try to use frozen berries within about 8 months.
Tips for Freezing Blackberries
Follow these extra pointers to get the best results when freezing blackberries:
- Freeze berries in single layers on trays before bagging for individual frozen pieces that don’t clump together.
- Consider special freezer containers designed to prevent freezer burn and make removing portions easier.
- For easier use, freeze berries in measured amounts, like 1 or 2 cup portions.
- Try freezing berries in a syrup made with equal parts sugar and water for a sweet treat.
- Avoid washing berries until just before use when freezing unsorted in bulk. Washing removes their natural protective coating.
- Prevent stained hands while prepping berries by wearing latex gloves.
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper for easy removal after quick freezing.
Using these tips will help you get the most out of your precious frozen blackberry harvest!
What’s the Best Way to Thaw Frozen Blackberries?
Thawing is the final important step for enjoying frozen blackberries at their best quality.
Here are some thawing tips:
- For use in baked goods or smoothies, frozen berries can be used without thawing. The cold berries are easily incorporated.
- To use frozen berries in sauces or as a topping, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. This prevents excess moisture from leaking out from a quick thaw.
- For a quick thaw method, place frozen berries in a colander and run cool water over them gently. Thaw just until the berries separate easily.
- You can also microwave berries in 30-second intervals, gently stirring between sessions, just until thawed. Take care not to overheat.
- Avoid thawing berries at room temperature or in hot water, as this can cause loss of flavor, texture, and nutrients.
- Use thawed berries right away, as they won’t last long once thawed. Avoid refreezing if possible.
Follow these guidelines to get picture-perfect thawed blackberries every time!
How to Use Frozen Blackberries
Frozen blackberries are incredibly versatile. Here are some of the top ways to eat these handy frozen fruits:
- Make delicious smoothies and smoothie bowls. Blend with yogurt, milk, juice, or other fruits.
- Toss into your favorite muffin, pancake, or waffle recipe. The berries create nice bursts of juicy flavor.
- Mix into oatmeal or overnight oats for an easy, antioxidant-rich breakfast.
- Make healthy yogurt parfaits by layering yogurt, granola, and thawed berries.
- Swirl into Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey for a simple berry dessert.
- Bake into pies, tarts, crisps, or cobblers. Frozen berries work great in baked desserts.
- Blend it into homemade jam or syrup. Frozen berries make jam-making easy any time of year.
- Top waffles, pancakes, or French toast with lightly sweetened, thawed berries for a special breakfast.
- Whirl into smoothie bowls or use as a topping over yogurt and granola.
Let your imagination run wild with all the tasty ways to use your frozen blackberry bounty!
Choosing the Right Containers for Freezing
The container you choose for freezing blackberries can affect quality and convenience. Consider these options:
- Rigid plastic freezer containers are ideal for easy access and minimal crushing. Look for BPA-free brands.
- Mason jars allow you to see the contents easily while providing a tight seal. Leave 1 inch of headspace for expansion.
- Heavy-duty zip-top freezer bags are inexpensive and collapse around their contents to prevent freezer burn. Opt for the moisture-proof type.
- Aluminum foil or waxed paper can be used to wrap small batches of berries. Wrap tightly in multiple layers with all the air pressed out.
- Avoid thinner plastic bags, as they can become brittle and develop tears over time in the freezer.
Whichever type you choose, be sure to label containers with their contents and date before freezing.
Added Tips for Freezing Berries in Syrup
For a sweet treat, consider freezing berries in a light syrup. Follow these tips:
- Use a ratio of 2 cups water to 1 cup sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves to make a simple syrup. Let it cool completely before using.
- Gently mix the syrup and clean berries in a bowl until coated. Use 1 cup syrup to 4 cups berries.
- Freeze coated berries in a single layer on a tray until hard, then transfer to an airtight container.
- Syrup-packed berries are great for eating frozen as is or using in dessert recipes.
- For lighter syrup, reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup per 2 cups of water. For a heavier syrup, increase the sugar to 1 1/4 cups.
Freezing Whole Blackberries vs. Sliced or Puréed
There are pros and cons to freezing berries whole vs. processing them first:
- Whole berries retain their shape and texture better. Great for eating plain or using in baked goods.
- Sliced berries take up less space and are easier to use in sauces or smoothies. But texture suffers somewhat.
- Puréed berries make an easy shortcut for recipes requiring crushed fruit. But overall quality declines most.
- For versatility, consider freezing berries in multiple forms: whole, sliced, and puréed.
Tips for Freezing Large Quantities of Blackberries
When dealing with larger blackberry hauls from U-pick farms or bumper crops, keep these tips in mind:
- Work in smaller batches. Don’t try to wash and prep more than 3–4 lbs of berries at a time.
- Enlist friends or family to help with rinsing and drying berries in an assembly-line fashion.
- Use ice cream buckets or large, sturdy containers to hold berries for the initial quick freeze.
- Transfer to heavy-duty gallon bags once hardened. Press out all the air and seal tightly.
- Label each container with its contents and date. Store bags flat to prevent crushing berries.
- Eat within 10–12 months for the best quality and flavor.
The Best Blackberry Varieties for Freezing
While all blackberries freeze well, some varieties hold up better than others. The best choices include:
- Marionberries: This hybrid berry has a robust flavor that frozen berries retain.
- Boysenberries are large, juicy berries with a tangy flavor. Freeze beautifully.
- Triple Crown: sweet, firm berries that resist leaking juices during thawing.
- Black Satin: smaller berries with a big flavor and fewer seeds to get mushy.
- Chester Thornless: A thornless type with good frozen texture.
No matter the variety, always select plump, ripe, and deeply black berries. Underripe red berries don’t freeze well.
Sugar Syrup Ratios for Frozen Berries
Adding syrup before freezing results in sweet, juicy berries. Popular syrup ratios:
- 2:1: 2 cups water to 1 cup sugar. Light sweetness.
- 3:2: 3 cups water to 2 cups sugar. Medium sweetness.
- 1:1: equal parts water and sugar. Heavy syrup for very sweet berries.
Heat water and sugar until the sugar fully dissolves. Cool before mixing with berries.
Steps for Freezing Berry Purees and Juices
Freezing crushed berries or juice expands your recipe options.
- Purée washed berries in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Strain the purée through a mesh sieve to remove seeds, if desired.
- Pour purée or extracted juice into ice cube trays and freeze until solid.
- Transfer the cubes to freezer bags. Label with contents and date.
- Use cubes in smoothies, sauces, baking, and more for concentrated flavor.
Tips for Buying Already-Frozen Berries
Purchasing already-frozen berries can save prep time. For best quality:
- Check for signs of freezer burn, like dry or discolored patches. Avoid if present.
- Inspect packaging for ice crystals, which indicate temperature fluctuations.
- Select berries that are individually quick-frozen (IQF) rather than blocks. IQF better preserves texture.
- Choose packages without added sugar or preservatives. Unsweetened whole berries provide the most versatility.
- Opt for flash frozen options, frozen at peak ripeness to lock in flavor and nutrients.
Common Questions about Freezing Blackberries
Freezing blackberries is pretty straightforward, but there are a few common questions that come up.
Here are answers to some frequently asked queries:
Should you wash berries before freezing?
Only wash right before use. Washing removes their protective natural coating. Frozen in bulk, wash just prior to using.
Do you have to use freezer bags, or can you use plastic bags?
Moisture-proof freezer bags or containers prevent freezer burns. If using regular bags, press out all air, seal tightly, and use
Is it better to freeze berries whole, sliced, or puréed?
Whole berries maintain the best texture and flavor. Slice or crush if planning to use in baking, smoothies, etc. Purée only if desired for specific recipes.
Can frozen berries be refrozen once thawed?
It’s best to avoid refreezing thawed berries. Refreezing causes texture and flavor loss. Use within 2–3 days of thawing.
Do you need to pretreat berries before baking them from frozen?
No need to thaw first; the cold fruit holds up fine when baked. To prevent sinking, toss berries in flour or starch before adding them to the batter.
How do you store pre-washed berries for freezing?
Lay washed berries in a single layer on a towel-lined tray to dry thoroughly. Once dried, freeze on trays, then transfer to bags.
Following proper technique when freezing and thawing is key to getting the most from your frozen blackberries. But the process is simple and well worth it for year-round berry deliciousness!
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.