Fresh berries can be preserved for long-term storage by canning, freezing, and dehydrating. Before deciding which method to use for preserving fresh berries, it is best to determine how you plan to use them. Berries can be canned whole, as fruit spread, as syrup, or as pie filling. Berries can be pre-treated with sugar or syrup before freezing, or processed without pre-treatment prior to freezing. For dehydrating, berries can be dried whole, as slices, or as fruit leather. This publication will teach the essential steps for preserving fresh berries through the processes of canning, freezing, and dehydrating.
Berries of the Pacific Northwest
A variety of berries can be found in the Pacific Northwest. The list of berries that grow abundantly in the Pacific Northwest is extensive. Some popular berries include: blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, chokecherries, currants, dewberries, elderberries, gooseberries, grapes, huckleberries, loganberries, marionberries, mulberries, salmonberries, strawberries, raspberries and youngberries. Depending on the type, berries can be ready for harvest in the late spring, with some seasons stretching until late fall. If you are seeking more information about the availability of specific berries in your area, contact your local Extension Office.
Berries can be preserved by canning, freezing, or dehydrating. Berries can be canned whole, made into fruit spread, turned into syrup, or used in pie fillings. Berries can be frozen dry (not pre-treated), with sugar, or in syrup. Berries can be dehydrated whole, as slices, or pureed into fruit leather. When choosing how to preserve berries, it is best to determine how you are going to use them before preserving them.
Since berries lose their freshness quickly in the heat, it is best to pick them in the coolness of the early morning. Once picked, place berries in the shade or refrigerator. Berries should not be washed until just before using or preserving them.
The exact quantity of berries you needed depends on the size and variety of the berry. Following is a rough estimate:
- 2 lbs. of fresh berries will yield 1 quart of frozen or canned berries.
- 1 quart of fresh berries will yield approximately 1 cup of juice for jelly or 2 cups of mashed berries for jams and other fruit spreads.
- A 36 lb. crate of whole berries will yield approximately 18-24 quarts.
- About 12 pounds of berries are needed to fill 7 quarts for canning.
- About 8 pounds are needed to fill 9 pints for canning.