Frozen Berries: Buy It vs. Make It
The rest of the year, I am in a constant, sad state of not having enough berries in the house. This is because my family goes through smoothies like … well, like smoothies go through us, if you’re going to be gross about it. And while we generally have enough yogurt, ice and whey powder on hand, it’s berries that we sorely lack. Before every stepkid weekend, I have to run to Whole Foods for an assortment of frozen fruit or risk watching them slowly starve.
Which is fine if you’re not picky, but I really love blueberries, and I can end up blowing the entire meat budget on them if I’m not careful. Maybe it’s because I spent summers in Maine as a child, or because I read Blueberries for Sal too often. Kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk.
So this week I set out to see if I could ease my severe berry addiction by freezing them myself. Would this be cheaper? Would they taste as good?
Freezing berries is not as straightforward as you might think. The Pick Your Own website, my go-to source for local farms where we can get our pickin’ on (no, I don’t mean noses or banjos, thanks for asking), has a wealth of good information on the subject. Turns out you shouldn’t just stick berries in the freezer. You must spread them on a cookie tray, let them freeze individually (not in lumps), and then put them in a thick, freezer-safe zip-up bag to minimize burn and, you know, lumpiness. Looking at my strawberries, I also thought it necessary to cut them in half, because their bulk just seemed unwieldy. By the time the inside thawed, it seemed to me, the outside would be too mushy, and everything would take too long. They also fit in the bag better that way.
So what’s the verdict?
Depends on what kind of berries you like. Frozen strawberries are a paltry 17 cents an ounce; organic blueberries are a hefty 54 cents an ounce. Peaches, mangoes, cherries, and blackberries fall somewhere in between, whether they’re organic or not.
Fresh strawberries are 18 cents an ounce, even in season. They’re the cheapest berry by far right now — fresh raspberries are an insane 67 cents an ounce, and they aren’t even organic. Of course, you might end up getting a much better deal at the farmer’s market, but basically, it seems that frozen berries are cheaper than fresh; you shell out extra because fresh berries are completely awesome. Freeze them, and you lose that advantage.
Plus you have to factor in the expense of freezer-safe plastic bags, which are seriously like fourteen cents a bag. Holy crap, people. The bags cost almost as much as the berries.
The effort’s low, but you know what else is low? The amount of free space in my freezer. If I were the kind of person who kept a separate fridge in my garage, I might feel differently, but right now I don’t even have a garage. So this frozen-berry adventure has limited usefulness unless you are seriously getting them for free.
If fresh berries are what you crave, this isn’t going to satisfy you. Frozen berries are frozen berries, full stop. I’d even venture to say the store-bought ones may taste better, because I assume flash-freezing preserves flavor better than the old workhorse in my kitchen.
Buy it! (And I almost never say that!)
What’s the verdict? Check out all our Buy It vs. Make It!