Freezing cranberries is easy

Freezing cranberries is one of the easiest, most convenient and least time-consuming ways to preserve them.

Photo by Jeannie Nichols
Photo by Jeannie Nichols

Cranberries are a beautiful fruit full of flavor. They are usually in stores for a relatively short time during the holiday season. If you want to enjoy them year round, Michigan State University Extension suggests that you consider freezing them.

Always remember that no matter what you are preserving, in order to end up with a high-quality product you have to start with a high-quality product. With cranberries, that means selecting the freshest cranberries possible to preserve. They should be deep-red, firm and have glossy skins. Soft, dull and wrinkled cranberries are not fresh.

Be sure to always store fresh cranberries in the refrigerator until you are ready to use or freeze them. Fresh cranberries will often have good quality for at least one month after you purchase them. However, if you know that you are going to freeze them do so when you bring them home.

You can purchase packaged or unpackaged cranberries. You can rinse them before freezing or after depending on your preference and time.

There are two easy ways to freeze cranberries, either by rinsing before or after freezing. Here are the steps for each:

Rinse before freezing
  1. Sort, rinse, drain and pat the berries dry
  2. Place them on a tray and allow them to freeze
  3. Pack berries into containers or freezer bags and date. If using containers leave ½ inch headspace, which is the distance from the top of the container to the top of the fruit
Rise after freezing
  1. Place the unpackaged, or packaged, berries in a freezer bag and date the bag
  2. Place the berries in the freezer
  3. When you take them out of the freezer to use them simply sort out any that are not deep-red, firm and have glossy skins and pick off any stems and rinse them well before using them

Cranberries freeze well, and when properly stored, retain good flavor and texture. Home frozen cranberries can retain their quality for 8 to 12 months if the freezer is kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

One tip when using frozen berries for muffin or bread mixes: Keep the berries frozen this prevents the berries from weeping. Weeping is the liquid from the berries that will discolor the batter, unless you like pink bread or muffins.

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