Blueberry harvest runs from April to September with late spring and early summer being peak blueberry season. The berries around this time are like candy. They make great pies, smoothies, yogurt toppings, and more. Hell, I will legit motorboat a bowl of plain berries during this period.
California blueberries are harvested from April through June and is home to over 9,000 acres of blueberries.
They are that good.
But if you are anything like me, sometimes you over buy. I personally hate food waste. Americans toss out 40% of the food produced in this country and I do my best to not be that person. Freezing any food you don’t plan to use immediately is always a great option.
It starts off with purchasing the right kind of berries.
How to Choose Blueberries
Choose blueberries that are even in size and also have an even deep purple to nearly black color. The whitish coating, called the bloom, is completely normal. The berries should be plump and firm. Avoid reddish berries as they are not yet ripe.
Containers with berry stains indicated bruised or over ripe fruit. Avoid those too.
How to Store Berries
Produce I plan to freeze still spends a few days in the fridge where I enjoy it fresh. If you plan to have some fresh blueberries hanging around, here is how to store them.
Soak blueberries in 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water for 15 minutes. Strain and let dry completely. Store in a covered container lined with a paper towel and they should last up to a few weeks. Then just wash before eating.
How to Freeze Blueberries
Now the reason you are here. Frozen blueberries! When freezing produce is tricky in the sense that, unlike fresh produce, you want to be able to use it immediately.
What I mean by that is this: You can easily rinse fresh berries clean and toss them in a yogurt bowl. You cannot rinse frozen berries as easily if they have dirt and mold spores frozen on them. You have to prep the frozen fruit as if you were just about to use it.
Remove Bad Fruit
Bad fruit leads to other bad fruit. It just takes one and next thing you know they’ll all be hanging out past curfew, getting into trouble. So once you bring them home, inspect the blueberries and discard any fruit that doesn’t meet the requirements above for choosing blueberries.
Wash the Berries
You simply cannot see all of the bad stuff on the blueberries. Produce is covered in dirt, mold spores, and other nasties that cause it to spoil. Blueberries are especially sensitive to these things. So you need to wash them.
Soak the blueberries in a vinegar bath that is 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water. Soak for 15 minutes. Then strain the berries.
Rinse the Berries
Don’t worry, this hack will not make your berries taste like vinegar. They are mostly water so you would have to soak them in a vinegar solution for hours and hours before the blueberries would absorb that flavor. However, you want to rinse them thoroughly now.
Dry the Berries
This is a very important step. Moisture is the enemy of all home-stored produce. Yes, the grocery store sprays produce all day long, in an open space. Your fridge likely has doors and is a closed space. You don’t want to store wet berries. You definitely do not want to freeze wet berries. They will freeze together in one giant annoying clump.
You can line a salad spinner with a towel and spin them dry. You can lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them near a breezy window. Hell, put your blow dryer on low and have at it. Just make sure they are completely dry.
Freeze the Berries
Lay them out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer for 3 hours. Transfer the berries to a freezer container. They will keep for about a year.
Frozen berries can be added directly to smoothies or if you need to thaw them, running them under warm water will quickly defrost them.