We had a tremendous strawberry harvest this year – 65 pounds! The hubby moved the patch and planted a new set of plants and I can only note that they did well. Obviously. We had enjoyed a few before we went on our trip to Portland and figured we would miss the bulk of the harvest due to the timing of our little vacation but the berries were still producing when we came home. He started picking and soon it was time for me to start freezing fruit for the winter.
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Freezing Fruit for the Winter
This year I put three different fruits in the freezer – so far. First up were all of those strawberries. As with all fruits they need to be gently washed to get any dirt off of the berries. We grow organically here on the farm so I don’t have to worry about chemicals
Then it’s a simple matter of removing the caps. I use a convenient little tool. It works well for the cherries too as you will see below. I find this wastes less berry than cutting the cap off of the top.
Then I lay them out on cookie sheets to freeze. Make sure they are fully frozen before they are packed for freezing. We are now using reusable containers so we are more Earth friendly. The point of spending the time to do this is so they are easy to serve later. You don’t have clumps of berries.
I put them into 25 oz rectangular containers and mark them with the date and name. Believe me, things get lost in big chest freezers so having that date on there is very helpful.
We don’t grow cherries as of yet. We have planted fruit trees but they are not yet producing. For now we buy them from a stand that has an orchard in Washington. We have been buying from these same people for the 10 years we have lived here. They have really tasty cherries. Each year we get 60+ pounds.
I have tried using a pitter. Truth be told I have tried several different pitters but I find it is just as fast and more efficient to just do it with the strawberry huller and my paring knife. I can do 20lbs a day and know that there will be no pits.
I lay the cherry halves out on the cookie sheets and freeze them. Lining them up as pictured allows me to see that all of the pits are definitely gone. After they are fully frozen I put them into the containers and date them just like the cherries.
I will note that frozen cherries are a delicious taste treat.
We have gone huckleberry picking – they only grow wild so there is no way to have them on the farm. (We do have a few blueberry plants but they have so far only produced a handful of berries.) Since the hubby loves huckleberries and he enjoys a bowl of fruit every morning with his breakfast we compromise on these little wild berries – we buy them. I would be OK with spending a day picking them but to come up with the 30 pounds that we purchase we’d have to spend a week picking berries.
These are the easiest fruits to freeze. I just give them a very gentle rinse and lay them out on the cookie sheets. Then into the containers they go. Again, I let them get fully frozen so that pour from the bag one by one. It makes it so easy to grab as few or as many as I need for his breakfast or for a recipe.
Blackberries and Raspberries?
You might remember that last year we had a lot of blackberries. The canes are still there but this past winter was very hard on them and many broke. The hubby had to cut them way back and he doesn’t think we will have a harvest this year.
I also wrote a post about Oya pots noting that we were putting in raspberries. They have finally been planted and hopefully we will have these sweet berries on the farm as well.
So that is how I end up with so many pounds of fruit in the freezer for the winter. I might have more by the time summer ends depending upon what happens, but it’s nice to know that it’s there. I love using the fruit we buy/grow in recipes like Strawberry Pie or Huckleberry Muffins.