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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Freezing Red raspberries for the winter...

Yesterday I ran to our local Meijer to pick up some milk and other basic necessities. As I was going through the fruit  department to purchase some bananas that I needed to make my daily banana-pineapple smoothies, I noticed they were having a sale on red raspberries. I am particularly fond of this fruit because as a child we had red and black raspberry bushes growing along the side of our property. I can still smell the aroma of fresh berry pies my mother always made on Fridays when these tiny delectable fruits were in season. Since these containers of berries are usually sold for a whopping price of $4.99 and higher in other local stores, and the sale price was just 5 containers for $5.00, I grabbed a few.
Since I won't be making a raspberry pie soon my best option was to freeze them for around the holidays. I can then give my family a delicious surprise of the fresh sweetness of summer as we sit around the fireplace and try to ignore the iciness of the outdoor temperatures. Oh sweet mother nature....
To freeze these delicious berries choose raspberries packed in small containers. The larger the containers the greater the weight of the raspberries on those beneath them. These tender berries crush easily and will be difficult to clean if they have been crushed by other berries.
Gently pick up each raspberry and remove any traces of leaves, insects or other debris that might have been left during the packing process. Then place a dozen or so berries in a small bowl and rinse for a minute or two to remove any traces of dirt or sprays, then drain carefully. Lay the berries out on a tray lined with paper towels to absorb any remaining water.

To freeze raspberries, simply lay the berries on a cookie sheet so that they are not touching. I set my berries right side up with the opening towards the bottom. This takes a little while but it will be so worth it in the end! Set the whole cookie sheet in the freezer to flash freeze the berries. Once they are frozen, remove the berries and put them in plastic freezer bags. Put the bags immediately back into the freezer as they defrost quickly. I recommend doing smaller batches at a time. At this point you may even stack the bags, as the berries will now hold their shape and not get smashed as they were pre-frozen. When frozen using this method the raspberries will now hold their shape when thawed. These make excellent berries for on top of your cereal or to use in muffins or your favorite desserts.
If you intend to serve raspberries with sugar on a short cake or other desert recipe, simply add 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar, or Splenda to 2 quarts of raspberries and stir to mix well. This is one time when you actually want to bruise the berries to release the juice. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to get the juices flowing.
You can also freeze these  sugared raspberries in plastic freezer bags. To serve, simply thaw the berries right in the bag. The juice created by the sugar will create a wonderful raspberry syrup that will add  flavor to any desert.

As always...Enjoy...and have a great gluten free week!

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