There is nothing like…Blueberry Muffins?

Mini blueberry muffins.

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Do you remember the cold snowy weekend morning you really wanted  some blueberry muffins with hot coffee for breakfast. There were blueberries in the freezer and flour in the cupboard. About ten minutes later the muffins were in the oven baking and the coffee was brewing. There was even time to fix eggs.

Believe-it-or-not, it’s about time to think about next winter. There is nothing like having food in the freezer, some dried fruit for lunches and snacks or some canned fruit to open for a quick dessert. It does take time, but it is healthy, tastes good and certainly saves money.

There’s the wonderful smell of baking muffins. Oops! The timer goes off and it is time to take the muffins out and serve up the rest of breakfast.  It was really nice to have a delicious  family meal so easily.

The phone rings. I tell Mary about our breakfast. She said she was thinking there must be a less expensive way to feed the family and did I have any ideas. Having been able to fix the breakfast we just ate would have been impossible if i had to go to the store to buy blueberries this time of year.

Mary, there is nothing like having fruit and vegetables you have preserved in the house and ready to use,“I replied. So Mary and I did some thinking about the upcoming spring and summer. Mary has not frozen or canned before so I promised to  be her mentor.

Mary will start picking up the supplies she will need for our project – wax paper, cookie sheets with turned up sides, jars and jar lids and some sugar for canning if she wants her fruit sweetened. We don’t happen to use sugar in canned fruit preferring just the natural flavor. She has a large kettle with a trivet she can use for hot water bath for her canned fruit.

We will both make a list so if we find a great buy, we can alert each other. Unless you have a special use for the great  big strawberries, we both will make a list of what are families will eat and the medium size will be just as tasty and you won’t have to cut them. I like to have free flowing berries, so cover the cookie sheet with a piece of wax paper. Wash and take the hull out of the berry and lay them one layer deep on the cookie sheet. Cover with another piece of wax paper. Cover it with berries. Repeat for four or five layers. Take it to the freezer. After they are frozen, pour them in a plastic bag. return to freezer.

There that wasn’t hard, was it?

What can you make with the berries? Strawberry jam when there is more time, in smoothies, in a cooked strawberry pie (strawberry-rhubarb?), in a fruit salad, strawberry short cake,strawberry ice cream… They will not hold their shape after they have been frozen. Best to use the strawberries when they have just a bit of ice left in them.

You can do one box  or a flat of strawberries at a time. Or even, just a handful if that’s all you have extra. Prices are usually better for a flat than by the box. They are even less if you raise them.

Several precautions!

Do not get carried away the first year. There is a lot of other fruit during the summer. You may want some of about everything at first. See what your family likes by trial and error.

Ask the produce person at the grocery store about the cost of a flat instead of by the each. It should be less. Is this the best price for the season? They will get used to your asking. Maybe even tell you when you walk into the department when they have or will have a bargin!

OK. The berries are frozen. What do you do with them? I salvaged a big square plastic cheese container years ago. It is one of my frozen raspberry containers. Otherwise, use large ziploc type bags. The experts say you should always label and date. With the plastic bags you can see what is in them so it may not be necessary to label the raspberries. Using plastic bags fit my style of storage as I feel there is the least wasted space.

Plastic yogurt containers and other similar containers are good for packaging frozen foods. Just wash container and lid. Use them again next year.

Blueberries are the only exception! They are even easier. If you buy only organic blueberries they have not been sprayed. If you are picking your own, take them home and pour them out on a large clean fluffy bath towel preferably in the shade outside. Give the little bugs a chance to fly off to a less mobile situation. Rub the berries very gently with the towel and put them in a large plastic bag. Lay them flat for freezing.

Other berries, like blackberries, boysenberries, thimble berries and any other berries may be washed and frozen like raspberries were. Label! It might be hard to tell them apart.

What can you do with berries? Eat berries regularly for their many nutrients. They are a bit more expensive than some fruit but a minimum of 1/2 cup daily is a great start. We try to eat a whole cup. Berries contain ellagic acid. Use them as a good anti-cancer  food., in ice cream, in a fruit smoothie, pies, in muffins, as a cheese cake topping and jam…   Enjoy


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