Skip ahead to to the blue text if you want the instructions without the incoherent babbling.
Flash freezing has been done in the food industry for ages to quickly preserve and seal in nutrients and freshness. It’s why nutritionists say frozen seafood, vegetables, and so forth are technically “fresher” than their fresh cousins you find in the grocery store.
Of course, if you’re practicing locavore-oriented shopping, you don’t have that problem now, do you? It’s not hard, and you don’t have to be a hardass about it. You’re just growing a garden, or befriending people who do, or participating in a CSA. Okay, I had to act like I knew what a CSA was. Hey look, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture.
Oh, wow. There’s one in my area. Crap, now you know where I live. No stalking!
Back to locavore stuff. You’re doing the above, and/or you’re looking for locally-grown produce at the supermarket, you’re befriending people with chickens for eggs, etc. It doesn’t have to be all intensive like the people who do “we’ll only eat anything grown within 100 miles” experiments.
So if you’re me, one locavore thing you’ve done recently is go to a local orchard and buy or pick blueberries. You picked a lot of blueberries. And you might as well throw some in the freezer for winter.
There’s something sparkly about pulling berries out of the freezer in the dead of winter, and making a smoothie, or cobbler, or pie. In like, February. You want to do this with your pretty local berries.
Note: This method can be used with nearly anything solid. I freeze tablespoons of tomato paste this way. Adobo chiles. Some people flash freeze lemon slices, or mushrooms. I don’t know if I trust frozen mushrooms, but they can’t hurt if being thrown into a lasagna or something.
flash freezing blueberries is easy peasy. Here’s how.
1. Wash the suckers. Dump the fresh blueberries into a clean sink filled with cool water. Slosh them around. Fish them out, and spread in a single layer on towel- or paper towel-lined sheet pans. Allow the blueberries to air dry.
2. Line the sheet pans with waxed or parchment paper. This will keep any berries that might still be wet from freezing directly to the pan.
3. Spread the blueberries in an even layer on the paper-lined pans.
4. Pop them into the freezer. Don’t stack them. The goal is to keep those little suckers as separated as possible so they freeze faster. My freezer is kind of scary, isn’t it?
5. Wait a few hours. Play Pandemic: American Swine to pass the time.
6. Pull the frosty frozen blueberries out of the freezer. Marvel at how they clink like marbles. Plot ways to shoot them at unsuspecting TSA agents.
7. Dump the clinking frozen blueberries into a freezer bag. Get a straw and suck, suck, suck the air out of the bag until you get lightheaded or pass out, whichever comes first.
If you have one of those fancy vacuum sealers, by all means use that instead.
8. Label the bag with what it is and the month and year. This cannot be stressed enough. Sure, you think you can recognize a damn bag of blueberries when you see it NOW, but next year? You’ll be wondering what the hell those dark lumps are. Example: Blueberries. 08/09. Do it. Trust me on this.
9. Pop the bag into the freezer and pencil blueberry pie in your calendar for January.