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, you can freeze fresh blueberries and enjoy them for many months after the harvesting season has come to an end. This makes it very worth stocking up on juicy blueberries in season when the prices are lower.
When it comes to freezing blueberries, there are a few important steps to make sure they retain good quality. Here is everything you need to know about the best way to freeze blueberries.
Types of Blueberries
Although there are many different types of blueberries, they are mostly very similar in shape with a dark blue-purple outer skin. Some blueberries may have slightly thicker skins or more prominent seeds.
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.
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.
Fresh 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, cooked into a compote, sauce, blended into a dressing, or transformed into a delicious pie.
Can Blueberries Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze blueberries for months of preservation. Freezing these little summer pops of flavor is a fantastic way to keep them for later enjoyment. So whether you’re at the farmers market or grocery store, don’t hesitate to take some extra blueberries home!
Frozen blueberries will lose some of their firm texture but can still be used in many ways after freezing. Frozen blueberries can be eaten as small frozen treats or added to smoothies, baked items, or cooked into pies, toppings, and sauces.
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 coating on blueberries protects them from losing moisture. This waxy coating is naturally nonstick too.
Washing the berries will remove this natural protective coating and make the berries more prone to spoiling.
Follow the below instructions when freezing fresh blueberries and only wash them after freezing, once you are ready to use them. Here’s how to freeze fresh blueberries.
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. If the berries have moisture on them, dab the blueberries dry with paper towels.
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 rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer and give the berries an hour or two to freeze. This prevents them from freezing in one giant clump and allows you to take out only as many as you need at a time after freezing.
Step 3: Pack
Since the berries are small they will freeze quickly. Once completely frozen, remove the baking sheet from the freezer and pack the frozen berries into resealable freezer bags. Press as much air out of the freezer bags as possible before sealing. This will help that they don’t develop freezer burn and spoil faster during the freezing process.
If you don’t have freezer bags, freezer safe containers will also work. Make sure it is an airtight container.
Step 4: Label and Freeze Berries
Label the freezer safe bag or container with the date and pop the berries back into the freezer.
How To Thaw Frozen Blueberries
Once you are ready to use the frozen blueberries, remove the quantity you need from the freezer and give them a quick 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. You can also use frozen blueberries in your smoothie mix, oatmeal, or add them straight to the saucepan in which you will be cooking them.
If you do want to defrost blueberries, wash them first and then place them in a container in the refrigerator to defrost. Alternatively, place the freezer bag in a room temperature water bath for about five minutes to defrost quickly.
Blueberries are a fantastically versatile ingredient to add great flavor to sweet and savory dishes and baked goods. Cooked, dried, raw, or canned, these berries are a summer delight. Freezing blueberries is the best way to preserve 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. Blueberry pancakes anyone?
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