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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Can I freeze fresh-picked berries for later?
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Old 06-25-2011, 05:51 PM   #1
RadicalEd
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Default Can I freeze fresh-picked berries for later?

Ok, so here's the deal--I live in SW Michigan, and right now is the middle of berry season. I'd like to make some strawberry and raspberry meads, but my next order of fermentation equipment is still a week off or so, but by then I'll be wrapped up in family-visiting activities. Sooooo, can I go u-picking today, and freeze the fruit for when I ferment? Or do I risk getting whatever's left on the bushes in 2 weeks time?

Thanks!

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Old 06-25-2011, 07:04 PM   #2
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Ok, so here's the deal--I live in SW Michigan, and right now is the middle of berry season. I'd like to make some strawberry and raspberry meads, but my next order of fermentation equipment is still a week off or so, but by then I'll be wrapped up in family-visiting activities. Sooooo, can I go u-picking today, and freeze the fruit for when I ferment? Or do I risk getting whatever's left on the bushes in 2 weeks time?

Thanks!
just get what you need picked, but then wash it and prep it as if you're gonna use it straight away, i.e. trim the fruit, then weigh it out in multiples of what ever you measure in, bag it and freeze it.

The freeze thaw method helps extract juice anyway so go for it. We've had to stop making our raspberries onto jam/jelly as we've run out of jars, so its coming off the plants into the freezer (hopefully into a fermenter at a later date).
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:40 PM   #3
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Thanks, fatbloke. Now that I have the yardwork done, off to the upick with me!

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Old 06-26-2011, 03:33 AM   #4
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Default sure can

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just get what you need picked, but then wash it and prep it as if you're gonna use it straight away, i.e. trim the fruit, then weigh it out in multiples of what ever you measure in, bag it and freeze it.
while this method will work, I prefer a method that I find superior... And most folks find a tad insane... but here goes. For Blue Berries, I take a cookie sheet (or whatever flat bottomed baking dish you have handy) and freeze it. Then quickly spread the cleaned and dried Blue Berries out on the cookie sheet in a single layer with about a half inch between them then freeze. For Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, etc I do the same but in a cooler with dry ice.

As I said, a little insane, but I like to freeze the berries as fast as possible to form the smallest ice crystals. smaller ice crystals damage the cellular structure of the berries less than a slow freeze, so they loose less juice, and just taste more, well... berry-like. But, that's just me.
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Old 06-26-2011, 08:34 AM   #5
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while this method will work, I prefer a method that I find superior... And most folks find a tad insane... but here goes. For Blue Berries, I take a cookie sheet (or whatever flat bottomed baking dish you have handy) and freeze it. Then quickly spread the cleaned and dried Blue Berries out on the cookie sheet in a single layer with about a half inch between them then freeze. For Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, etc I do the same but in a cooler with dry ice.

As I said, a little insane, but I like to freeze the berries as fast as possible to form the smallest ice crystals. smaller ice crystals damage the cellular structure of the berries less than a slow freeze, so they loose less juice, and just taste more, well... berry-like. But, that's just me.
Ah ha! well I suspect that you've missed the point a little then.

While it doesn't hurt to freeze them in this complicated way, it does produce single frozen fruit that can be poured out and/or weighed. So no problem there.

The whole point is, that if you're freezing the fruit with the intention of using it for wine/mead making then it matters not, whether the fruit is frozen individually or whether it's in a frozen lump. The point is, that you want to get to the juice, with it's flavour and colour. So it doesn't matter about the size of the ice crystals. You want it to damage the cell structure of the fruit, to allow the juice to escape but also so the yeast cells can get to the fruit that hasn't been damaged.

Some will just chop and/or cut the fruit and them press it, to remove the juice that way, which then can also be frozen, though for ease of use, a lot just freeze the fruit (less likely to manage any stone/pit/pips/seeds and the possible introduction of bitterness from them). Of course, if it's weighed out to a set amount first, then you just put the frozen lumps of fruit into the fermenter (or allow it to defrost and pour the fruit/juice into a carboy if you're not using a bucket).

The freezing individually method is usually done by the catering industry as they don't want the look of the fruit damaged/changed as it's part of the appearance of the end product (cakes, gateaux, open pies, other decorations etc etc).

And no, just because you've used a freeze/thaw method to both preserve the fruit and to allow it to start breaking down to get at the juice, it doesn't mean that you don't need to use pectic enzyme. The pectolase allows for greater flavour and colour extraction.

Hence while it's not wrong, it's just time consuming, with little merit in making such an effort. After all, it's the flavour/colour from the juice that you want in your brews, not the pulp.

regards

fatbloke

p.s. Oh and the same applies to using heat to extract the juice. heat is fine from "red" (black) fruit, as more often than not, it improves/enriches the juice flavour/colour, whereas the "white" (green) fruit often changes taste giving a "cooked" taste to it. Think apples (and kiwi fruit). Some other "fruit" also display other problems, like rhubarb (ok, I know, technically speaking it's a vegetable). Heating it up, not only causes pectin issues, but you can also get advanced "jellification" (is it a word ?) problems that are hard to cure. it seems that the best method with rhubarb is freeze and then thaw, in a straining bag (in a sieve or hung from a frame). That way you can collect the pure juice/flavour without the other issues, apart from pectolase of course (oh and no, don't squeeze the defrosting fruit either as it can impart excessive pectins and/or cloudiness that can be hard to clear out the finished brew).
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:22 PM   #6
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Robusto--thanks for the interesting technique, but it's a tad hardcore (not insane ). If I was going to freeze the berries for later consumption, I would indeed follow that method. I'll have to remember that for this fall...

But fatbloke has it right about the ice crystals damaging cells being a good thing.

fatbloke--if I have pectinase on hand, no issues with using then, I presume?

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Old 06-26-2011, 06:16 PM   #7
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fatbloke-
You make a good point. I freeze stuff to use for a variety of things, so I try to preserve them in as pristine a condition as possible. The slow freeze method will actually help you in this case, making the juice easier to access.

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