My name is Shannon and I am married and the mother of 2 boys. This is my journey and musings as a self proclaimed County Girl, living in town, or rather in the village. I try to live simple, with my motto as Back to Basics. Enjoy life and the little important things that make it worthwhile. Welcome to my world : )
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
It’s that time of year when the delicious berries began to
ripen. Fat and juicy, just waiting to be eaten fresh or put into your favorite
pies and jams. I have experimented with different ways to preserve the berries.
At the moment, I have found that my favorite way to keep the berries at their
peak flavor ripeness the longest is to freeze the berries.
The blueberry season for berry picking enthusiasts is right
around the corner, well here in Michigan at least.This usually calls for a ride out to one of my
favorite places to pick berries…Spicer Orchard in Fenton, MI. (http://www.spicerorchards.com)At this orchard, you can buy the berries
already picked or you can pick them yourself. Depending on the weather, I admit
I totally wimp out if it is too hot of a day, but I usually like to pick my
own. The price is nicer on my pocketbook and I get to pick the berries that I
think look the best.
Once I get these berries home. I start out with washing
them. I like to soak my berries in a mixture of one part vinegar (I use apple
cider vinegar) to ten parts water. The berries soak for a minute or two before
I give them a good stir around to be sure any loose bits of dirt are knocked
off and the have all mixed well in the vinegar water solution. After the
berries have had their bath, drain the mixture and give them a quick rinse off.
To dry my berries, I lay them out on a clean cotton kitchen towel and pat them
gently with another kitchen towel or even paper towels.If you are going to freeze your berries it is
important to get them dry prior to freezing to help prevent ice crystals and
the dreaded…freezer burn.
single layer for freezing
As I said before, freezing is my preferred method of
preserving berries. After my berries are rinsed and dried, I lay them out on a
cookie sheet in a single layer. I put this into the freezer for about an hour
or until the berries are frozen. Once the berries are frozen, I then separate them
into different size freezer bags. I like to have some snack pack size as well
as quarts for making different things. The frozen berries really hold their
texture and flavor by freezing them thoroughly first before bagging your
portions. This also helps to prevent the berries clumping into a big ol’ball of
berries in the freezer.
Berries that are frozen and kept in the freezer are said to
be good for a one year period of time. I try to keep enough to last me through
a year but I have to admit I am happy when I have set aside enough just to get
me through the winter.By setting enough
berries aside, it helps me to keep my grocery bill down as well as local. I
like to buy as local as possible when it comes to the foods that I feed my
Taken with my Hipstamatic iphone app
One of my favorite ways to use the berries is in my morning
oatmeal. I like to prepare my own regular old fashion oatmeal on the stove top.
To my cup of cooking oats, I add in a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and a
sprinkling of brown sugar. Once my oats are cooked, I toss in a handful of the
frozen berries and stir just a bit. The oatmeal is hot enough to quickly warm
the berries but not cook them into a mush. I find the berries and the pumpkin
pie spice really complement each other well.