If you ever have the chance to rummage around my kitchen, you’ll find lots of cooking supplies, dried rice and grains, fresh herbs, veggies and some sort of protein, usually ground beef, whole chicken or the occasional pound of scallops we get from Dirk’s Seafood. But you won’t find much in the freezer. There’s no pizza for late night cravings or half-gallons of Rocky Road in there. But that is about to change.
Lots of foods are really good for you when frozen. Corn, green beans and berries all have a very short window of being perfectly ripe and aren’t very good when under ripe. These items are picked ripe, in the field, and frozen at peak freshness in a process called IQF (individually quick frozen). This is flash frozen food that still has individual kernels or pieces and isn’t one big block. The nice thing about IQF food is it is easy to measure and use in recipes, maintaining an even ratio for fresh produce and maintains almost all of the nutritional value of their fresh counterparts.
Over the weekend we stopped by Corey Lake Orchards on our way back from Michigan and grabbed a 10-pound case of blueberries and some other seasonal goodies. To some people, that might seem like an excessive amount of blueberries. You might even say there is no way you can eat all of those before they rot. And, you’d be right.
Bring in IQF. We took all the blueberries, gave them a gentle bath and laid them out on towels to dry completely. After sorting through and picking out all the stems and squished berries, we laid them on parchment lined sheet trays and placed them in the freezer overnight. Then next morning, we took all our perfectly frozen blueberries and put them into 1 gallon freezer bags, being careful not to overfill them, so they will lay flat. We ended up with 5 bags of blueberries, which might not be enough, so another trip to the orchard is already in the works.
When you are ready to use the berries, try adding them to smoothies in the morning or as a natural ice cube for patio refreshments.