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How To Save Berries For Later Preserving

Farmstead Berries

Our daily breakfast while at the Farmstead.

I have been spending a lot of time traveling back and forth between my 1/10th of an acre city homestead here in Los Angeles and my family’s 14-acre Farmstead in Northern California. Managing both properties has been a joy and a challenge. Now that it is harvest season, both gardens are bursting with flavor, but it is hard to keep up and preserve that flavor for later.

Of course this can be a challenge no matter what size garden you have. So I thought I would share how I do some of my preserving in stages – especially with berries.

On the Farmstead, we have rows and rows of wild blackberries lining all the pastures.

The fruit is super sweet and makes an incredible jelly or a pancake syrup. When I get really overloaded with berries, I knock out a few batches of Blackberry Liqueur too.

On this particular weekend, I was already busy making peach jam and apple pie. So I had no time for processing the berries into preserves! But that didn’t stop us.

How to Stay Sane When You have Too Much to Preserve:

The thing to remember when trying to preserve the harvest, is that you do NOT have to do it all at once!

If possible, let your freezer help you out.

If you are making jam, jelly, sauce or syrup with the fruit you are harvesting, you can freeze it before actually cooking it up into the final product. This is especially helpful with tomatoes and berries which always catch me at my most busiest time.

Freezing The Berries:

First, we harvested as many as we could…

And then I laid the fresh berries out on cookie sheets and frozen them for a few hours.

When the berries are frozen solid, you go back and bag them up into freezer bags or freezer containers.

Freeze berries on cookie sheets before bagging.

The advantage of this is that the berries won’t clump together into a giant lump. You can store them in baggies and pull out a few at time for pancakes, muffins, etc.!

Harvesting and Freezing Blackberries

On this particular day, we ended up with about 20 cups of berries divided into 2 cup baggies. And we still have a lot more berries coming on. I highly recommend that you go ahead and measure them into a convenient amount needed for your next recipe. That way, they are already measured out and waiting when you are ready.

On my next trip up to the property, I’m making jam!


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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.