Flash Freezing Fruit

This week (and last week I think) blackberries are on sale at Kroger — for $1.  A while back, they had raspberries on sale for $1.  The blackberries are regular $3.99 (I think) . . getting them for $1/package is a steal.  Wednesday when I had to go get the tires rotated on the Honda, I went by Kroger while I was in town and got 10 packs.  I figured if they weren’t great, I could make jelly with them but they were great.  The seeds weren’t huge, like some tame blackberries, and they’re sweet!    When I went back to town to take the Highlander to get the tires rotated yesterday, I went back by Kroger and got 10 more packs.

I simply wash the blackberries, and lay them out on a towel with no lint.  Then I put them in the freezer til they’re frozen hard.  I wash strawberries and raspberries before flash freezing them but do not wash blueberries before freezing them.  I’ve heard that washing them ahead of time makes the skins tough so I take them from the freezer, and rinse them with a bit of warm water.  It washes them and helps them thaw a bit before adding them to whatever we’re eating.

Blackberries from the freezer.

Then I put them in the freezer til they’re frozen hard and then I scrunch the towel around til the berries all become unstuck from each other.

Single Frozen Blackberries

They’re placed in either a freezer zipper bag or a Food Saver bag and vacuum sealed.

Ready for Freezer

From the $10 in blueberries, I got 4 packs (one is in the fridge, three are in the freezer).  I keep blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries in the freezer and I only buy them when they’re on sale.  We sprinkle a few on cereal or on oatmeal and they taste just like fresh!  We sometimes use them when making juice too.

For $1/pack, I buy a few extras and freeze them and in the summer, when it’s so hot, I’ll throw some frozen fruit out to the chickens and they get a real treat.  Some day we’ll have our own blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and maybe raspberries, but for now, I’m very happy to find them on sale.

Be watchful for those bargains and be very sure that you’ll be able to preserve/keep the food til you can use it.  Anything that gets wasted is not a bargain!

Oatmeal – More Than You Want to Know

Who would have thought that in one week, we would talk about quilting, knitting, vultures and oatmeal?

I’m a big oatmeal fan.  I like it for breakfast and back in the old days, when Vince traveled a lot and was not home for dinner, Chad and I often had oatmeal for dinner.

There’s instant oatmeal.  That’s all I used to eat.  Open the packet, stir it into boiling water and it was done.  I loved that you could get variety — peaches & cream, blueberry, etc.   It was so convenient to keep a packet or two with me when I worked and if I missed lunch, I could have a packet of oatmeal.

Then I came across Old Fashioned Oats.

Old Fashioned Oats

To me, they tasted so much better, and I could make oatmeal cookies with this kind of oatmeal.  For a long time, that’s the kind of oatmeal we used.

Then a friend told me about steel cut oats.

McCann’s Irish Oatmeal

We love this oatmeal.  It’s crunchy and nutty and it just seems so healthy!

Yesterday I was cooking some oatmeal and decided to check to see just how much healthier steel cut oats are than other types of oats, including instant oatmeal.

Oatmeal Comparison

The instant oats are not used in this comparison because I didn’t have any of them here but I did have the above oats.  Some instant oatmeal that has the added flavors does have some type of sweetener added so the nutritional value of the instant oatmeal is probably way different from the three above.  On the left are the regular steel cut oats.  They’re what we normally use for our oatmeal but they take 20 – 25 minutes to prepare.  For my preparedness supplies, I keep the Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats.  They cook in about 7 minutes.  I figure if I’m cooking over an open fire or having to cook quickly, I’d rather be boiling oats for 7 minutes vs. 20 – 25 minutes.  On the right are the Old Fashioned Oats.  I only use those for cookies.

Nutrition Comparison

I’m sure no one ever told me but I assumed because I was eating steel cut oats, which in my mind is “whole grain”, I was eating a much healthier oatmeal but when reading the labels, which I obviously had never done . . all three of these are pretty much exactly the same – same calories, same fiber content, same sugar content, same fat content . . exactly the same.

Under the FAQs Quaker Oats discusses this very issue.  Research revealed that their is some difference in the glycemic impact.  The steel cut oats take longer to digest, therefore leaving you feeling full longer, as well as well as helping keep the blood sugar levels more even.

So, for us, we eat steel cut oats because we like them better, but not because they have more fiber, or less calories.