Freezing cranberries is quick and easy

Now is the time to preserve cranberries so you can enjoy them later.

During the fall is when fresh cranberries appear and are in abundance. Those ruby red jewels are not around for long. They appear before Thanksgiving but disappear before Valentine’s day. Why not preserve some for later?  A piping hot cranberry orange muffin might taste really good on a snowy day in late February.

The best way to preserve cranberries is to freeze them. The process is quick and easy. Michigan State University Extension recommends washing your hands before starting any food preparation. To freeze cranberries, select cranberries with bright, shiny red skins. Sort the good berries from the wrinkled and discolored ones. Remove any stems. 

To dry pack the cranberries, arrange them on a tray and partially freeze them. Next, pack the cranberries into a rigid freezer container leaving a ½ inch headspace. Label the containers. Seal the containers and freeze. An alternative to the rigid freezer container is to put the cranberries in a sealable freezer bag.

To pack the cranberries in a syrup pack, put the cranberries into a rigid freezer container, leaving a ½ inch headspace to allow for expansion of the berries. Cover the cranberries with a cold 50 percent syrup. To make the 50 percent syrup, measure four cups of granular sugar and dissolve in four cups of water. Stir the sugar into lukewarm water until all of the sugar is dissolved. The solution should be clear. Cool the syrup down before pouring over the cranberries. It takes between ½ to ⅔ cup of syrup per pint of fruit. A trick to keep the fruit submerged in the syrup is to crumple parchment or waxed paper on top of the cranberries, pushing the berries down under the syrup, before sealing the lid. Remember to leave a ½ inch head space. Label the container and freeze.

Now is the time to get some of those ruby red jewels of winter and preserve them for later. Hot cranberry pancakes will taste really good on a cold snowy day in February.

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