Learn several easy options for how to freeze raspberries fresh from the garden or farmers market to use in favorite recipes all year long.
If you’re berry lover you know that fresh raspberries from the grocery store (especially organic) can be very expensive. And even frozen raspberries aren’t cheap. Luckily, it’s incredibly simple to freeze raspberries for use in lots of favorite recipes throughout the year.
I eat a lot of smoothies and raspberries are one of my favorite ingredients. I was buying big bags of them from my local food co-op, but it was bothering me that all of the raspberries I was eating were from very faraway places, not where I live in Wisconsin. And, the plastic bags they came in generated a lot of trash that went straight to the landfill.
I eventually set the goal of trying to grow and pick all of the raspberries I would need for an entire year. No small feat! I planted two rows in my yard and also visited some u-pick farms.
If you’re ready to freeze raspberries you’ve either grown, picked or bought, the process is simple and there are several options depending on how you want to use the berries later. Let’s get started!
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How to Grow Raspberries
Planting raspberries in your yard is a great way to have a steady supply throughout the summer. Although I would put raspberries on my easy to grow fruit list, there are some special considerations you should mull over before you dig in and start planting.
In this post about planting raspberry canes, I share some of my best tips for choosing which varieties to grow, where to plant them in your yard, and how to set your patch up for success.
How to Harvest Raspberries
Harvesting raspberries is easy! If you read the article above on growing raspberries you know there are summer bearing and fall bearing varieties. This means you could potentially have two rounds of harvesting in one season. Summer bearing raspberries ripen in early to mid-July and fall bearing raspberries are harvested in late August to early September.
Start monitoring your raspberry patch around these times and you’ll see the berries changing from white-ish to pink and then to red (or yellow). Raspberries are ready to be harvested when they’re a deep color of red and very easy to pull off the cane.
With a slight tug they should basically fall off into your hand. If you have to really pull on them they’re not quite ripe yet.
What If You Don’t Grow Raspberries?
Luckily, I had my food preserving epiphany a few years ago where I realized I don’t have to grow everything I preserve. (Duh!)
That means if you don’t have canes planted in your yard you can still freeze raspberries – you’ll just need to go out and find some bulk deals.
The best way to get great deals on raspberries for freezing is to make a visit to your local farmers market or u-pick farm during the height of the season. Raspberries don’t store very well, so many farmers offer bulk deals during this time.
You can find local u-pick farms in your area by Googling, looking at this website, or putting out a query on social media to your friends and neighbors.
Once you find a few local farms, check out their websites to see if they list when the picking season occurs each year. If so, make a note on your calendar to check back around that time.
In zone 5 where I live the raspberry harvest season occurs about mid-July and again at the end of August into September. The best picking is generally at the height of the season, right in the middle of the harvest period.
How Will You Use Your Frozen Raspberries?
Before we talk about how to freeze raspberries, you need to think about how you’ll be using them after they’re in your pantry.
What recipes do you cook that feature raspberries?
Do you want them whole, cooked down, or in a sauce or jam?
For example, I eat a smoothie every day for breakfast and blueberries and raspberries (along with strawberries) are my three most common ingredients. Freezing raspberries whole works just fine for smoothies.
In contrast, my husband eats oatmeal every morning before work. In the past he’s made a sauce from fruit and berries from our yard that he can mix into his oatmeal.
Once you know how you’ll eat your frozen raspberries, the next step will be much easier!
Methods for Freezing Raspberries
How you freeze raspberries depends on your answers to question above, how much space you have to store them, and how much time you have to spend on preserving.
Here are several different ways to preserve these berries. They’re listed from easiest to more time consuming.
Option #1: Freeze Whole
This method is quick and easy, but whole fruit can take up a lot of room.
Super ripe berries don’t last very long in the fridge, so start processing them as soon as possible. If I have to store mine in the fridge while I work through them I cover the bowl with a wet towel to keep them moist. The fridge will suck the moisture right out of uncovered berries.
Step 1: Clean
Ripe raspberries are so fragile that you might not want to try to rinse them. If you do, be very gentle!
Fill a bowl or sink with cold water. Transfer berries a bit at a time to wash them off. Put them in a colander to drain the excess water.
Step 2: Dry
Berries shouldn’t be wet when you put them into the freezer. So, from the colander move them to towels laid out on a kitchen counter or table and spread them out to dry for a bit.
Step 3: Spread Out
Once they air-dry for a while, 1-3 hours, spread them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. This will prevent them from sticking together into one big ice block. A bag of loose berries will allow you to easily remove however many you need for each recipe.
Step 4: Freeze
When you fill a baking sheet up with berries you can transfer it to the freezer for a few hours until they’re frozen through. I place them into my chest freezer overnight.
Step 5: Store
Once the berries are completely frozen transfer them into containers and store them in a chest freezer. Freezer bags, wide mouth glass jars, plastic storage containers, or old large yogurt containers all work well.
One year I saved the bags from my favorite frozen berries I bought from the grocery store. They’re made out of a heavy-duty plastic that’s thicker than freezer bags. Go me!
Step 6: Record
If you bought or picked raspberries, write down how many pounds you picked for referring back to next year. Also record how many bags or containers you froze.
I have a Food Preserving binder where I keep my records every year. This helps me figure out the ideal amount of each vegetables, fruit and herb to preserve so I’m not caught short during the winter and I don’t waste a lot of time in the summer preserving things I won’t eat.
Option #2: Freezer Sauce
This is a good option if you want to fit a large number of berries into a smaller volume of space. All you need to do is cook the berries down in a pot on the stove until they’re the consistency of a sauce.
You don’t need to add anything else since the berries are so tasty already, but you certainly can! Once it cools transfer the sauce to half pint or full pint glass jars and store them in your chest freezer for up to a year. Although they probably won’t make it that long!
Option #3: Freezer Jam
This will take the most amount of work, but if you eat a lot of jam it’s likely worth it. Instead of canning your jam you can freeze it instead.
Other Ideas for Preserving Raspberries
I think freezing raspberries is the easiest way to preserve them, but there are some other options that might fit your lifestyle better. Or, maybe you have SO many raspberries you want to experiment with some other techniques in small batches.
I used to have a dehydrator, but I never used it so I sold it on Craigslist. I’ve never dried raspberries, but I have dried strawberries and they tasted amazing! If you don’t have the space to freeze them or the time to make jam, this might be a good option for you. The best way to dehydrate vegetables and fruit is with a commercial dehydrator.
You can actually ferment fruit, although I’ve never tried it.
Recipe Ideas for Using Fresh & Frozen Raspberries
Even though a lot of recipes call for fresh berries, if they’re going to be blended or cooked you can usually substitute frozen instead.
Baked Oatmeal is one of my favorite dishes to serve brunch guests
On top of Pancakes, Waffles or French Toast
Desserts: Muffins, Crisps, Bars
Love and Lemons has lots of berry recipes here.
And another of my favorite food bloggers, Cookie and Kate, has raspberry recipes here.
Now that you’ve learned how simple and quick you can freeze raspberries it’s time to get out there and plant, grow, harvest, shop for or go pick baskets full of this delectable fruit so you can stock your pantry for the winter. You’ll save money at the grocery store, cut down on shopping trips, and have fruit harvested at its peak flavor right at your fingertips anytime you want it.
Additional Resources for Easy Food Preserving & Storage
Want more quick and easy ideas for preserving food?
In this book I’ll teach you how to use your basement, fridge, and freezer to eat from your garden all 12 months of the year. Check it out here.
MASTERCLASS: Fill Your Pantry From Your Garden.
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This class will teach you how to make every harvest last longer by quickly and easily preserving vegetables at the height of their season. You’ll love the feeling of sitting down to a meal and knowing a large part of it came from your garden!
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