Fresh vs frozen berries. Should you go without when your favourite berries aren’t in season? I say no! In this post, I’ll give you the ins and outs to frozen berries and how to use them in your recipes.
Why use frozen berries or fruit?
While it seems obvious that fresh would be better than frozen, there is also another way to look at it – it’s just different, and as long as you treat it right you can still have gorgeous fruity treats year round.
Frozen fruit may not have the same crispness or texture as it’s fresh counterpart but there are some great benefits to using it.
- It’s available all year round
- You can use it straight from the freezer
- Convenience – it’s already washed and ready to go
- Frozen fruit is generally snap-frozen at it’s peak and as soon as it’s picked (read: retaining flavour and nutrients, sometimes more than fresh)
In my opinion, it keeps our farmers in business too. Imagine if they could only sell raspberries at their peak.
My opinions aside, you can use frozen fruit in everything from ice creams to smoothies to baked goods but there are a few golden rules.
Baking with frozen berries
Keep them frozen
Frozen fruits and especially frozen berries contain a lot of water. As the fruit thaws, it releases that moisture and the more brittle skin means the juice escapes. This can result in a few issues like
- Bleeding through your batter
- An increase moisture content in your batter
- The fruit not holding it’s shape and getting all mushy
For this reason, keep frozen fruits frozen right up until you add them to your mixture.
Coat frozen berries in flour before baking
Because of all that extra water that frozen berries contain, they are heavy and they will often sink while baking.
As soon as you’re ready to add your berries to the mixture or batter, take them out of the freezer and coat them in some flour before adding them in.
This will decrease the chances of them sinking and it will also help to correct the moisture content in your mixture.
Add more thickening agents
This is all about that moisture content again.
When making a fruit pie, the extra moisture in frozen fruit and berries will likely leave you with puddles of thin watery sauce at the base rather than a sauce that coats and suspends the fruit.
Add a little extra corn flour / cornstarch to help to thicken the sauce while it bakes. The amount will depend on the fruit you’re using.
Let the steam escape
Baking a pie with an open top will allow some of that moisture to escape as steam so an open top pie is a great way to use many frozen fruits.
Increase the bake time
Frozen fruits will lower the temperature of your batter so I find it’s best to add 3-5 minutes to your bake time if you are substituting frozen fruit in a recipe that calls for fresh.
Use a thick batter
The thicker the batter the more able it is to suspend the frozen fruit and not let it sink. Think things like muffins, cake doughnuts and bundt cakes.
Making frozen treats with frozen fruit
The other great way to use frozen fruit is to make frozen treats like sorbet, ice cream and smoothies with them.
Be aware that – due to our nemesis, the extra water content – frozen fruit and berries can make ice cream turn out icy (as opposed to creamy). It’s best to use them whole or once pureed, reduced the puree down a little in a saucepan first.
With sorbet, granita and smoothies though, this is much less of a problem. Frozen fruit will even keep your smoothies cold in summer without having to water it down with ice.
You can even freeze frozen fruit, into ice blocks to use in a glass of water in summer.
Decorating with frozen berries and fruits
Not recommended. While there may be some that hold their shape better than others, don’t decorate a cake with frozen fruit unless you’re going for that soggy, juice running down the side effect (aka don’t do it).
Decoration is best done with fresh fruits that are perky and full of colour.
How to freeze fruit
If you’re like me, you’re always craving things out of season that you love in season. You can make the most of the in-season bounty by freezing fruits at home yourself.
Wash and dry the fruit first then spread in a single layer on a baking tray. Place the tray in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container.
Fruits that oxidise
Toss the fruit slices in a little lemon juice first then pat dry before freezing in a single layer on a baking tray.Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container or plastic zip lock bag
Juiced – freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container or plastic zip lock bag for use at will. This is a great way to portion out lemon juice too.
Sliced – spread the slices in a single layer on a baking tray. Place the tray in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container.
So there you have it. I hope that answers your questions surrounding using frozen fruits, mostly in baking. Now go grab some frozen fruit and get baking.