When you need to freeze berries, do it quickly! Acting on a hint from Alton Brown on how to freeze strawberries with dry ice, I started with my berries and (of course) dry ice. You’ll need the ice (a local grocery store will often stock this), a big pot or clean cooler, a flat wide metal baking pan, and a hammer.
I took about 10 lb dry ice and broke it up somewhat, then layered it in my biggest stockpot with 8 quarts of berries that had been rinsed, hulled, and (very important here) dried.
After 10-15 minutes, the berries were frozen solid, and we could turn the stuff out onto large sheet pans. We picked out the berries and packed them into quart-sized zipper freezer bags, and stored them in the cold. No mess, no fuss, and no freezer burn on these berries!
NOTE: be very careful when handling dry ice. Use gloves.
prepare the strawberries
First, wash and hull the strawberries, and lay them out on towels in a single layer. You want clean, dry berries to freeze – water drops can result in freezer burnt fruit.
prepare the dry ice
If your dry ice comes in small pieces, you’re all set. If your supplier gives you large chunks, break them up: put them in clean paper bags on a wood cutting board and whack the outside of the bag with a hammer.
layer dry ice and berries
Pour a layer of dry ice into a large metal stockpot or a clean cooler. Add a layer of berries, then more dry ice. Be gentle! You don’t want to crush the strawberries. Continue until all the berries have been added, making sure to end with ice. Cover the container loosely, and wait 10 to 15 minutes.
pick out the berries and bag them
After 15 minutes, the berries will be frozen solid. Carefully pour out the icy mixture into large baking pans, and pick out the frozen berries. Put them into quart-sized zip bags, label and date them, and store them in the freezer for later use.
dispose of the dry ice properly
Dry ice is solidified carbon dioxide, and at -109˚F, it’s much much colder than water ice. You must be careful to dispose of it properly. The best way is to unwrap it and put it in a well ventilated area that is out of the reach of children, pets, and the general public.
- do not put it in your sink or toilet; it can damage plumbing
- don’t dispose of dry ice in garage cans or chutes
- do not leave dry ice in an unventilated room
- do not place dry ice on a tile or laminate countertop because the cold may damage it. A solid surface wood cutting board, or piece of plywood, is best
- do not store dry ice in a glass or air-tight container
NOTE: be very careful when handling dry ice. Always use insulated gloves (oven mitts will do)