Whether you bought too many or you're putting up a blackberry harvest, knowing how to freeze blackberries is a wonderful way to preserve them without sugar!
We have 147 blackberry bushes on our homestead. ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY SEVEN... that means that we have hundreds of pounds of fresh blackberries to process every spring.
Typically, we like to can blackberry jelly and we eat as many as we are able to fresh (my son takes this as a personal challenge). But there are only so many jars of blackberry jelly that we can get through in a year, so we also like to freeze our extra blackberries as well.
There are many reasons why you may have too many blackberries to eat fresh or turn into preserves, and in those moments, freezing blackberries is a wonderful option to have them available later on! Plus, it's just a great way to preserve blackberries without sugar.
- Sale prices - When you see a fabulous sale, scoop those blackberries up and freeze them!
- Friend or family member - Have someone you know who grows blackberries? Accept all they are willing to share!
- Berry picking - You know we love a good berry picking family outing, so if you do too and end up with too many berries, this method is for you!
- Growing your own - If you are blessed to have some berry bushes (or maybe you foraged them somewhere) freezing is my top way to preserve blackberries without sugar!
What you need
Freezing blackberries couldn't be easier! You don't need any special equipment and you can have even a large batch into the freezer in about 20 minutes or less.
That being said, here are a few things that I like to use to make the process as simple as possible.
- Strainer - While this isn't strictly needed, I prefer having a strainer that goes across the sink so that I can wash a lot of berries at once, while still being able to inspect them for bugs/rot.
- Dish towels or paper towels - For patting the berries down before freezing. Don't use a white/light colored towel that you care about, because the berries will stain. I prefer paper towels, but a dark colored dish towel will work too!
- Wax paper - I like using wax paper to help ensure that the blackberries don't stick to the tray due to excess moisture, but it's not "needed" per se.
- Baking trays - This is for laying out your berries in a single layer to freeze.
- Ziploc bags - Once frozen, I like storing the berries in Ziploc bags, specifically quart bags with the gusset!
The Secret to Freezing Blackberries
We've been freezing blackberries for several years now, and here are my best tips for keeping the berries whole, not stuck together, and ready to use!
- Dry, dry, dry - After washing your blackberries, you want to make sure they are DRY before freezing them. Any extra moisture left on the berries will cause ice to form during freezing, and it will make the berries much juicier when they are thawed. That could be a good thing if you're making juice or smoothies, but not great if you want to make muffins! Place the berries on a towel then gently place another towel on top and move the berries around to dry.
- Make room - As best as you can, make sure that the blackberries are in a single layer on your baking trays. Doing so will allow you to keep the berries from sticking together, which will give you a much nicer experience when you go to grab a handful of frozen berries for a smoothie!
- Freeze in small bags - Instead of opting for a gallon Ziploc for all your berries, freeze them in smaller portions. This not only makes them easier to manage, but when you take a bag out to use, you don't risk thawing more than you need. Every time you remove a bag from the freezer, the berries thaw a bit (and stick together, get mushy, and so on), using smaller bags helps protect the berries you aren't using!
How to freeze blackberries
Now we can get down to the nitty gritty of the steps for freezing blackberries! There is also a printable version at the bottom of the post.
- Sort - Gather your blackberries, then sort through them for any bugs or rotten fruit.
- Wash - Using cool water, wash your blackberries well. You may even opt for an apple cider vinegar wash if the berries are store-bought.
- Dry - Using a dark towel or paper towels, pat the blackberries gently until they are thoroughly dry.
- Arrange - On a wax paper lined baking tray, arrange the blackberries in a single layer.
- Freeze - Place the trays flat in the freezer and let freeze overnight (or 8 hours).
- Store - Working with one tray at a time (leave the others in the freezer), fill small baggies and return them to the freezer. Store up to a year in the freezer!
How to use frozen blackberries
The really amazing thing about freezing blackberries is that you can use them in almost all the ways you can use fresh blackberries! Here are a few ways we like to use our frozen blackberries...
- Smoothies - Just grab a handful of frozen blackberries and toss them into the blender instead of ice. We LOVE berry and spinach smoothies around here, so this is one of the top uses of frozen blackberries for us.
- Muffins - Instead of making blueberry muffins, just replace the blueberries with blackberries!
- Breakfast - Thaw some blackberries in the fridge overnight and serve them alongside bacon and eggs. Delicious!
- Canning - If we run out of blackberry jelly, I can just use the frozen berries to make more.
- Syrup - My son is a snow cone fanatic, so making homemade snow cone syrup with frozen berries happens quite often. Easy and delicious, we even use maple syrup in place of the sugar and water!
Common Questions about Freezing Blackberries
While I would recommend it, if you grew the blackberries and there isn't any dirt on them, I guess you don't HAVE to wash them. However, there are bugs and animals in nature that could cause contamination to the berries even if you aren't using chemicals or pesticides.
We have found and used frozen blackberries that were 3 years old. They tasted just as good as the blackberries that were frozen only a few days ago, so really, as long as they have maintained a frozen status (not been thawed and refrozen multiple times) they are safe to eat!
Yes! While having the ice formation on the blackberries will add more moisture to whatever you are making, it doesn't have an impact on their safety. To avoid this, thoroughly dry your blackberries before freezing.
Even More Food Preservation Ideas
Keep your freezer full with these easy food preservation ideas. Whether you are growing it yourself, or scoring great deals at the market, these next posts will make sure nothing ever goes to waste!
How to Freeze Blackberries
- 1 quart blackberries (or however many you have!)
- Gather your blackberries, then sort through them for any bugs or rotten fruit.
- Using cool water, wash your blackberries well. You may even opt for a apple cider vinegar bath if the berries are store-bought.
- Using a dark towel or paper towels, pat the blackberries gently until they are thoroughly dry.
- On a wax paper lined baking tray, arrange the blackberries in a single layer.
- Place the trays flat in the freezer and let freeze overnight (or 8 hours).
- Working with one tray at a time (leave the others in the freezer), fill small baggies and return them to the freezer. Store up to a year in the freezer!