Blueberries have gained popularity as a superfood with many health benefits. These blue-purple berries are versatile in both sweet and savory dishes, raw or cooked. Being mainly a summer berry, blueberries can be expensive during other times of the year.
Luckily, blueberries can be frozen and enjoyed for many months after the harvesting season has come to an end. This makes it very worth stocking up on blueberries in season when the prices are lower.
Blueberries are a little different when it comes to freezing and you will need to know some tricks to make sure they retain good quality. Here is everything you need to know about freezing blueberries.
Types of Blueberries
There are many different types of blueberries although their classification is mostly dependent on the type of bush they grow on. Cultivators have developed multiple species to grow in various climates and different shrub heights.
Some blueberries may have slightly thicker skins or more prominent seeds, however, they are mostly very similar in shape with a dark blue-purple outer skin.
These round berries are generally sweet to taste, although smaller or unripe blueberries have a tart flavor. Blueberries have an outer waxy coating called bloom. This coating has a white tinge and protects the berry from losing moisture as well as from insects and bacteria.
Blueberries are eaten as a snack on their own, added to fruit salads or even green salads. They are a great addition to pancakes, muffins and cake batters, or simply as a topping.
These versatile berries are also popular in breakfast smoothies, added to oatmeal, or can be cooked into a compote, sauce, blended into a dressing, or transformed into a delicious pie.
Can I Freeze Blueberries?
Yes, blueberries can be successfully frozen for months of preservation. They will lose some of their firm texture on freezing making them somewhat softer.
Frozen blueberries can be eaten as small frozen treats or added to smoothies, baked items, or cooked into pies, toppings, and sauces. Freezing these little summer pops of flavor is a fantastic way to keep them for later enjoyment.
How To Freeze Blueberries
Important Things to Know Before Preparing Blueberries for Freezing:
Unlike other fruits and vegetables, it is not recommended to wash blueberries before freezing. The cloudy natural wax coating on blueberries protects them from losing moisture and also acts as a natural ‘non-stick’.
Washing the berries will remove this protective layer and make the berries more prone to spoiling.
Follow the below instructions when freezing blueberries and only wash them after freezing, once you are ready to use them. Here’s how to freeze fresh blueberry:
Step 1: Sort
Ripe blueberries are somewhat firm with a dark blue-purple color. They are tangy-sweet and pop with juiciness in your mouth. Sort the blueberries by removing any bruised, mushy, wrinkled, or unripe ones from the batch.
These will not freeze well and are better cooked immediately into a compote or sauce. The fresher blueberries are when freezing them, the better the quality will be when you use them later.
Step 2: Flash Freeze
Spread the blueberries out in a single layer on a baking tray lined with wax paper. Place the tray in the freezer and give the berries an hour or two to freeze.
Step 3: Pack
Once frozen, remove the baking tray from the freezer and pack the frozen berries into resealable freezer bags. Press out any remaining air and seal the bags.
Step 4: Label and Freeze
Label the bag with the date and pop it into the freezer.
How To Thaw Frozen Blueberries
Once you are ready to use the blueberries, remove the quantity you need from the freezer and give them a good rinse in cold water to remove any chemicals and bacteria.
There is now no need to thaw them, so unless your recipe calls specifically for fresh blueberries, you can add them frozen to cake, muffin, and pancake batters, chuck them in with your smoothie mix, oatmeal, or add them straight to the saucepan in which you will be cooking them.
If you do want to thaw the blueberries, wash them first and then place them in a container in the refrigerator to defrost. Alternatively, place the freezer bag in a cold water bath which you could see them defrosting fairly quickly.
Blueberries are a fantastically versatile ingredient to add great flavor to sweet and savory dishes. Cooked, dried, raw, or canned, these berries are a summer delight. The best way to preserve the berries is to freeze them. This way you can make use of in-season specials, stock up while they are available, and save money.
Blueberries are easy to use from frozen which means very little preparation time is needed to use them. Not only do blueberries freeze well and taste delicious, but they have fantastic health benefits which makes preserving them for year-round consumption totally worth it.
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