Few things have a flavour as pure and exquisite as fresh-picked berries, but it isn’t always possible to eat all the berries as soon as they are picked, especially if the harvest is bountiful. After a successful berry picking excursion, these tips can help save the fruit’s flavour.
Dehydrated berries make an easy-to-grab and easy-to-eat snack or instantly add a spark of flavour to plain food items, such as cereal and yogurt. The dehydration process enhances the natural sweetness of the fruit, and the dried berries last for months on the shelf or indefinitely in the freezer.
To preserve berries by dehydration:
- Thoroughly wash the berries, then allow them to briefly air dry on a paper towel or in a colander.
- If the berries are small, cut them in half. If the berries are large, cut them into thin slices.
- Dip the cut berries into lemon juice to reduce the discolouration that normally occurs during the drying process, then layer the cut berries on the dehydrator racks.
- Put the lid on the food dehydrator, then turn it on.
- If you have the owner’s manual that came with the dehydrator, check it to determine how long the process should take.
- If the manual is not available, check the progress of the drying fruit after about eight hours. It will normally take between eight and 24 hours to dehydrate berries, depending on the drying machine used.
Freezing berries lets you hold the original flavour in a sort of stasis. As long as the fruit is properly wrapped and remains frozen until you are ready to use it, the flavour will remain practically unchanged. The texture, however, often gets a bit soft when the berries thaw.
To preserve berries by freezing:
- Wash the berries with cold water and allow them to dry, the same as if preparing to dehydrate the fruit.
- Slice the berries in half or quarters, then sprinkle it with about 15 grams of sugar.
- If sugar-sensitive, you can reduce the sugar, or not use any, and individuals with a sweet tooth might prefer to increase the sugar.
- The purpose of the sugar is two-fold, but it is not vital to preserving the berries in a frozen state. Sugar helps the fruit release moisture to create juice and it also help to preserve the fruit and avoid discolouration.
- Put the fruit in either freezer bags or freezer-safe containers, then store in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy them.
- The berries can be thawed before eating, or savoured as frozen treats.