After a busy summer and lots of berry picking, we always have an abundance of Alaska’s wild berries to see us through the winter. We freeze a lot of our berries for a sweet treat during the long winter months. These are our favorite ways to use up frozen berries.
Summer in Alaska is an exciting time! The midnight sun is shining and there’s so much to get done during the few, short months. Between gardening and beekeeping and a million other outdoor projects, we always make sure to set aside time for berry picking.
In Alaska, there are berries all over the place. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, high and low bush cranberries, salmon berries, and more. It’s amazing to drive out to the middle of nowhere and stand on land where you can’t even move without stepping on berries because there are so many.
There are also a few small farms that we visit for berry picking as well, mainly for raspberries and strawberries. By the end of the summer and going into fall, we have quite the bounty.
Of course, we eat as many as we can when they’re fresh! We make pies and other desserts and just eat them by the handful. However, we can’t get through all of them right away so most of them must be preserved. I always make a few batches of jam but the rest get frozen to use throughout the rest of the year.
I like to spread them out on cookie sheets and freeze them then transfer them to another container. Quart canning jars and reusable zip bags work great. Then when we want to use some berries, we can just grab what we need and they won’t all be stuck together.
We end up with a lot in our freezer and we certainly don’t want them to go to waste. Here are our favorite ways to use up frozen berries.
Smoothies are a delicious and healthy way to enjoy frozen berries throughout the year. Any berries will do and the possibilities are endless. My girls love when I whip up smoothies for them and they make a great breakfast along with a muffin or some eggs.
Here’s what I typically toss in the blender when we want to enjoy smoothies:
- 1 cup of plain, homemade yogurt
- 1-2 cups of whole milk
- 1 banana
- a handful of frozen berries
- a drizzle of honey
- a handful of frozen kale (or another green I have on hand)
- a sprinkle of wheat germ
I just blend it up and that’s it! Delicious!
Just because berries have been frozen doesn’t mean they can’t be made into jam anymore! We will inevitably run out of jam sometime during the winter because we love to have it on toasted homemade bread and those little jars are perfect for sharing with friends.
You can just as easily make jam (or jelly) using previously frozen berries. Just pull them out ahead of time to thaw to make it easier to measure them according to your recipe. Then just follow the recipe as usual. I’m a fan of Pamona’s Universal Pectin so that I can use our own honey to sweeten the jam instead of tons of refined sugar.
We make blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, and strawberry jams and they’re always delicious, no matter what time of year we make them. A piece of toasted homemade bread or a hot sourdough biscuit is always better with some homemade jam spread on top.
On Yogurt or Oatmeal
After I make a batch of homemade yogurt from our cow’s milk, we like to enjoy a bowl for breakfast or lunch. Yogurt is perfect for everyone in the family because each can personalize it however they like. I always set out an assortment of toppings including homemade granola, wheat germ, nuts that we have on hand, honey, ground cinnamon, and of course, a bowl of frozen berries.
Oatmeal is another nutritious breakfast that pleases everyone. Frozen berries can be stirred right into the oatmeal and help to cool it down quickly. A drizzle of honey or fresh cream from our cow tops it off.
Although we have three girls ages 13, 11 1/2, and 10, we recently had a baby boy! Baby James was born at the end of April of last year so he’s almost 1 now. I always made the girls’ baby food and now I’m making all of his. I planned ahead last summer and froze extra produce for him.
Blueberries are extremely healthy and great for making tasty baby food for little ones. Although they are pretty tart so I don’t serve them plain at first. I make baby food by cooking apples (or pears) with some frozen blueberries and then puree them together for a healthy meal for baby.
More Ways to Use Up Frozen Berries
Here are a few other ways we like to enjoy our frozen berry harvest throughout the year:
- Ice Cream-We love making homemade ice cream in our ice cream maker. Berries can either be mixed into the ice cream while it’s being made or used as a topping.
- Berry Syrup-Toss some frozen berries into a small saucepan and drizzle a little pure maple syrup on top. Let it cook down on low heat for several minutes and you’ll have a tasty syrup to pour onto pancakes or waffles.
- Baking-Frozen berries are great for adding to recipes like pancakes, waffles, muffins, loaves of bread, crumbles, pies, and cakes. Making a delicious dessert or treat for our family or dinner guests is always a hit.
- Chickens-If I pull out a few too many berries and there are some leftovers, I’ll go ahead and toss them in the chicken scrap bucket for a special treat for our hens. This is pretty rare but they’re happy when it happens!
Berry picking is such an enjoyable summer activity. It takes some work but the whole family gets involved and when we’re enjoying this summer bounty during the cold winter, we are so thankful. Then we look forward to the next season and having fresh berries all over again.
Do you have any other ways that you enjoy using up frozen berries that we haven’t tried? Please let me know so we can give it a try ourselves!