When you know how to freeze fresh cranberries it is so much easier to enjoy the tart, sweet berry all year round! Follow these simple steps to ensure you properly store your fresh cranberries to enjoy them in your favorite dessert recipes any time of year.
Did you know Wisconsin is the largest grower and supplier of cranberries in America? It’s true! We’re not just the Dairy State – we’re the cranberry state!
Chances are, if you’re using fresh cranberries, they were grown just a few hours away from my house. How wild! Because of this, it’s easy for me to buy cranberries at an extremely affordable price – especially right after they’re harvested.
To prevent wasting the abundance of fresh cranberries available to me, I freeze whatever cranberries I’m don’t immediately use and store until the craving for a simple compote, cheesecake bars, or delicious crisp strikes me!
Here’s how I do it:
Cleaning Fresh Cranberries
Even though cranberries are harvested in water (yep, the bogs are dry during growing and get filled with water for harvests!) it’s still important to properly clean your cranberries before freezing them to remove any remaining field debris and to rinse off any processing residue.
Pour the berries into a strainer and give them a healthy rinse, tossing them gently to ensure every cranberry is properly washed. Allow the excess water to drain for a few minutes before continuing.
Even though modern farm equipment is excellent at separating the delicious, fresh cranberries from the less than stellar ones, they’re not 100% perfect and some duds will slip into the bags on occasion.
While rinsing, be sure to remove and discard any berries that have squishy, yellow-ish spots. Those are no good! A fresh, ripe cranberry will be bright red and firm. If it’s off color or soft, toss it.
Freezing Fresh Cranberries
Once the cranberries are cleaned and drained, spread them out onto a towel lined rimmed baking sheet. The towel will absorb any excess water and the rimmed baking sheet will ensure no cranberries roll off.
I prefer to use paper towels for freezing produce like rhubarb or fresh mulberries as they tend to bleed and can stain fabric. Of course, you can use a paper towel during this process, too, if you’d like.
If your cranberries are particularly wet, or if they haven’t had time to properly drain, you may want to do this process twice, discarding the soaked towel and replacing it with a dry layer, if necessary.
It’s important to use a baking sheet that is big enough so all the berries can lay in a single layer and aren’t touching too much. This will ensure even freezing and help prevent sticking.
Flash Freezing Fresh Produce
A process called flash freezing will also ensure the cranberries don’t freeze together in one large clump.
This is a method of freezing the whole fresh fruit or vegetable in a single layer on a baking tray (that is lined with paper towel or a towel to prevent it sticking to the tray) until the produce is completely frozen. This takes around 4 hours but can be done overnight.
If you don’t flash freeze fresh produce and instead just throw it all in a freezer bag from the get-go, it will freeze in a giant clump and make it very difficult to use moving forward.
Storing Frozen Cranberries
Once the flash freezing is complete and the cranberries are frozen solid, transfer the frozen pieces to a freezer-safe zip-top bag. Label with the contents of the bag, the amount or weight of the item, and the date it is being frozen.
A properly labeled bag ensures that no mystery items wind up at the back of the freezer and that you know exactly how much you’re using and when it was initially stored.
These frozen cranberries can be stored for up to one year and can be used as you would fresh cranberries in so many recipes! From cranberry sauce to muffins to simple syrup and beyond!
How to Freeze Fresh Cranberries
- Clean Kitchen Towel (or paper towels)
- Rimmed Baking Sheet
- Freezer-safe zip-top bags
- Sharpie or Pen
- Fresh Cranberries
- Place cranberries in a colander and thoroughly wash with cool water. Take care to gently run your fingers through the berries, picking out and discarding any cranberries that are yellowed and soft (these are not good).
- After rinsing, allow cranberries to drain excess water for a few minutes.
- Pour the rinsed and drained cranberries onto a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
- Ensure the cranberries are in an even, single layer and place the baking sheet flat in the freezer for at least four hours, or overnight, or until the berries have frozen solid. This is a process referred to as flash freezing.
- Transfer the flash-frozen cranberries to a freezer-safe zip-top bag, labeling it with the contents, weight, and date of storage.
- Frozen cranberries can be kept for up to one year and can be used just as fresh cranberries in most recipes!