Walk into any fruit cage during the peak of summer, and you’ll find it difficult not to walk back out again with juice-stained fingers. The abundance of crops at this time of year is astounding. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, currants, gooseberries and blackberries can all be cropping come this time of year, fuelled by sunny, warm days that lead to the accumulation of such sugar-packed jewels. Preserving the harvest at its peak is paramount, before wasps, rots and inferior musty flavours get the better of it. Freezing literally prevents spoilage in its tracks – here’s how to do it:
Harvest your chosen berries at their peak point of ripeness – check and pick over plants daily to establish this. Fruits should be soft, not firm, yet not mushy and oozing juice.
Pick on a dry day and only wash the berries if absolutely necessary. Remove any showing blemishes (use these for jams) and then space the remaining fruit out evenly, untouching on a tray.
Perfectly frozen fruits are ideal for defrosting for pavlovas. By freezing the berries in small, well-spaced batches you’ll prevent them from clumping together which results in damage when attempting to separate them.
Once the berries are frozen, you can transfer them into smaller trays which will take up less room in the freezer. At this point the fruits can sit on top of each other and they won’t clump together.
Defrost the fruits in batches as and when needed, allowing them to slowly rise to room temperature. They’re ideal for topping desserts, making into summer puddings or blending into a loose syrup for yoghurts.