Blueberries are sweet, nutritious fruit, and rich in antioxidants. Often dubbed a superfood, blueberries are mostly harvested from the end of spring to mid-summer. Of course, you can always find them all year round, for a higher price.
One day, you find a great deal of fresh, juicy blueberries. Since blueberries are the star of your breakfast, you’re thinking of buying more to freeze at home.
Perhaps, foraging blueberries at a nearby forest is your hobby. This activity is so much fun for both kids and adults. Plus, you can bring back home buckets full of them, enough to make compote, pies, muffins, etc. But, can I freeze blueberries for later use?
Definitely, yes! If you want to learn how to freeze blueberries and everything around this topic, keep reading!
How To Freeze Blueberries
Blueberry is a seasonal fruit, and they can be pretty expensive at certain times. If you’d like to enjoy these juicy berries throughout the year, the easiest option is to purchase store-bought frozen blueberries.
But guess what. You can also freeze blueberries on your own! Another great news is that freezing blueberries actually improves its antioxidant availability. (*)
Freezing blueberries is incredibly easy. It only takes a few steps, and rest assured you’ll have the frozen berries anytime you want.
Frozen blueberries are delicate and versatile. You can use them in various ways, both frozen or thawed. You can enjoy them as is, use them for smoothies, on top of oatmeal, compote, jams, muffin, and the list goes on!
Follow these tips below to freeze blueberries properly.
- Select ripe, flavorful blueberries
If you have some blueberries plants or forage them from the forest, you want to harvest blueberries at their peak. Ripe blueberries are characterized by blue color with silvery bloom. Red and green berries are unripe and sour. They also look plump and firm. (*)
Select good quality berries and remove the leaves, stems, mushy or moldy berries. Immature or defective berries do not belong in the freezer. You don’t want to have a tart and mushy berries now and later.
- To wash or not to wash
Although this step seems ordinary, there are strong arguments around it. There are benefits and drawbacks to washing blueberries before freezing.
If you wash them, of course, you will have them ready to eat once you take them out of the freezer, no hassle. This is very convenient if you want to use frozen berries, such as for making smoothies.
National Center for Home Food Preservation doesn’t recommend to wash the berries before freezing because the skin will be slightly tougher after thawing. (*)
This textural change, however, won’t be noticeable if you use the berries for cooking, such as making compote or baked goods.
If you decide to wash blueberries before freezing, pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Otherwise, don’t forget to rinse them quickly before use.
- Flash-freezing blueberries
This step is essential to allow the berries to freeze individually. You can skip this step and quickly toss blueberries in its original carton, but you’ll end up with a big lump.
On a cookie sheet or baking tray, lay the blueberries in a single layer and spread evenly. Place the tray in the freezer to freeze for 2 to 4 hours. Take them out once frozen to prevent freezer burn.
- Freezing blueberries for long term
Place the already frozen berries in a zip lock bag or freezer bag. Lay them evenly and flat. Squeeze as much air as possible and seal tightly. Label the bag with a freezing date.
Check your freezer once in a while and make sure to set the temperature to 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower.
How To Defrost Frozen Blueberries
To thaw frozen blueberries, you can safely thaw them in the refrigerator or give it a cold water bath. Simply place them in the fridge to defrost slowly. For a faster option, submerge a bag of frozen blueberries in a bowl of cold tap water.
You can also defrost frozen blueberries in a microwave. Make sure to watch the process since they can get warm very quickly and become mushy. Microwave thawing is more suitable if you plan to use the fruits for cooking.
If you want to use frozen blueberries for cooking, maybe making compote or jam, it is not necessary to thaw them. Throw them right into the pot and let them thaw while cooking. You can do the same for baked goods unless the recipe says otherwise.
Don’t forget to wash them before use if you didn’t pre-wash them before freezing.
How Long Can You Freeze Blueberries?
Blueberries freeze well for 8 to 12 months. For prolonged freezing, there is a risk of freezer burn, and the texture gradually changes. Other than quality concerns, properly frozen blueberries are safe to use indefinitely.
No, frozen blueberries retain their healthy nutrients, including the antioxidants. Frozen blueberries are just as good as fresh ones.
That depends on the quality of your blueberries before freezing. Generally, freezing doesn’t make blueberries mushy. But, you want to be careful with thawing, especially if you do it in the microwave, over thawing results in mushy berries.
Freezing food inactivates microbes, including bacteria, but doesn’t kill them. Therefore, you will need to rinse blueberries thoroughly before or after freezing.
Freezer burn is mostly the cause that frozen fruits suffer from deteriorating taste and texture. It is not necessarily unsafe, but the fruits are no longer tasty and juicy.
Yes, that’s possible. Choose a wide mouth jar designed for freezing and canning. Regular glass breaks easily in low temperatures.
Freezing is a smart trick to ensure the availability of seasonal produce like blueberries. Freezing blueberries is easy and pretty straightforward. Properly frozen blueberries retain their quality for 8 to 12 months but remain safe indefinitely.
So, next time whenever you find a great deal in the market, buy more, and freeze them. This way, you can reap the health benefits of this tasty fruit throughout the year.
*Image by depositphotos.com/zoldatoff