Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits. Fresh blueberries are even better! Our family loves to go blueberry picking and bring home a lot of blueberries. The only downside is that fresh blueberries don’t last very long so we need to preserve them. My favorite way to preserve blueberries it to freeze them. This keeps them nice and plump and firm for using in baking straight from the freezer. Frozen blueberries are almost as good as fresh blueberries when frozen properly.
You may be asking yourself “how do I freeze fresh blueberries?” well, I’m here to teach you exactly how easy it is for you to do.
How to Freeze Blueberries
Now, there is a specific way to freeze blueberries for the best end result and for using later on. If you just throw a bunch of fresh blueberries in a baggy and stick them in the freezer they will freeze but they will be all smashed and stuck together in a giant blob. That is definitely not ideal when you need to measure out a certain amount for a recipe or you want to grab a few out to snack on.
Washing Your Blueberries
The first step to take is washing your blueberries. We choose to pick from farms that do not use chemicals on their plants. Even so we still want to be sure to start out with clean blueberries. Little pieces of debris or small bigs can sometimes make their way into our blueberry basket.
Washing blueberries for freezing is simple. I just place them into a bowl or sink of water and give them a little swish. Next, I put them in a colander and let them drain the water off. The berries don’t need to be completely dry for freezing but they shouldn’t be soaking wet or puddling when placed on a pan. I like to pat them dry with a cloth or paper towel to remove as much excess water as possible.
NOTE-Some people choose not to wash their berries at all as they have a natural protective wax like coating already on them. This is a personal choice, there is no right or wrong way to do it.
De-stem Your Blueberries
After your blueberries have been thoroughly cleaned, the next step it to remove any stems still attached. No one wants to bite into a fresh blueberry muffin straight from the oven and find themselves biting a hard stem. If you are diligent while picking your berries, you may not have many or even any stems to remove. When you are picking berries with children, you are likely to have a lot of stems to remove before freezing.
I like to get my kids to help with this task as it can be a little mundane and many hands make light work. Having help makes this go a lot faster.
How Do You Freeze Fresh Blueberries
Once you have your fresh blueberries prepped for freezing it just takes a couple of minutes to get them in the freezer. I like to take a sheet pan with sides and line it with parchment paper or a silicone baking pad. The reason to use a pan with side is to keep the berries from rolling off. Be sure to choose a pan that will fit in your freezer.
Now, I pour some of the blueberries onto the pan. It is important to keep them in as much of a single layer as you can. This will keep them from freezing in clumps. Once you fill up your pan, place it on a freezer shelf keeping it as level as possible.
The blueberries need to remain in the freezer on the pan for a minimum of 4 hours but longer is better. I often start them at night and then remove them in the morning. If I start this early in the day I try to give them around 8 hours in the freezer for them to get nice and firm. I would try to get them stored within 12 hours to avoid any freezer burn or off flavors permeating the berries.
Packaging Frozen Berries for Storing
Once the blueberries have been in the freezer long enough to become frozen and hard they are ready to be packaged for long term storage. The easiest way to store the frozen blueberries in in a freezer bag. I have also vacuum sealed them in the past.
Vacuum sealing is a good option if you plan to leave them in the freezer for a longer time. You can also use an airtight freezer safe container but these tend to take up more room in the freezer than baggies or vacuum seal bags.
When you place your blueberries in the bag for freezing only fill the bag about half full (give or take a little). Lay the bag flat and remove as much air as possible while sealing it. This will help the berries stay fresher longer and will take up less space in the freezer.
That’s all there is to it! The process is simple and relatively quick. Once you have your fresh blueberries frozen you’ll be ready to use them in all kinds of yummy dishes. Some of our favorites are blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry pie, blueberry smoothies, blueberry jam, blueberry scones, blueberry ice cream, added to fresh yogurt, and any other blueberry delicacy we can think of!
It’s always nice to have a little taste of summer in the dead of winter so freezing fresh blueberries pays for itself all year round in many ways!
Fresh blueberries can last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator if stored properly. They are best if eaten with 1 week of picking.
When stored properly blueberries can maintain flavor an texture for up to 2 years. Most recommend using them within 12 months of freezing.
Frozen blueberries bake well when added to recipes while still very frozen. They begin to thaw within about 5 minutes of removing from freezer so wait until you are ready to add them to the recipe to get them out.