Blueberries are sweet little flavor bombs that I can never get enough of. And just because they’re only in season from June to August, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them for the rest of the year!
There’s a way to preserve them for months on end. So the next time you see blueberries on sale, don’t hesitate to buy them in bulk.
The best way to extend their lifespan is to freeze them. Just follow the instructions I’ve shared down below and you’ll have blueberries all winter long.
How to Freeze Blueberries
- Pick through the blueberries and throw out those that are too tender.
- Flash-freeze the berries to ensure they won’t clump together in the freezer. Place them on a lined cookie sheet in a single layer. It’s fine if they touch one another, but don’t place berries on top of each another.
- Freeze the cookie sheet for an hour. Since blueberries are tiny, they won’t need as long to freeze. However, if your freezer is almost full, give the berries an additional 2 to 3 hours in the freezer.
- Once the berries are frozen all the way through, transfer them into freezer-safe bags. Use a vacuum-sealer to seal the bags. If you don’t have one, squeeze out as much air as you can before you seal the bags shut. If you want to further protect your berries from freezer burn, double-bag the berries. Or place your bag of berries in a freezer-safe container.
- Place the berries back into the freezer.
Frozen this way, blueberries will last 10 to 12 months in the freezer.
To Rinse Or Not To Rinse?
There’s a big debate about whether blueberries should be rinsed prior to freezing. The no-rinse camp says that pre-washing blueberries will result in dry, clumpy, and tough-skinned blueberries.
Blueberries have what is called a “bloom” coating. It’s a protective layer that safeguards the fruits against bacteria and pests. The bloom is waxy and non-stick, so it naturally prevents the berries from sticking to one another once frozen.
However, if you rinse them, they lose this coating, making it easier for them to stick together.
The pro-rinse team, on the other hand, says that the difference in taste and texture is hardly noticeable, and they prefer it over having dirty berries. Plus, with pre-washed frozen berries, you can eat them right away without defrosting them.
Personally, I don’t see the need to rinse blueberries before I freeze them. But if you feel the need, here’s how to do it:
Throw the blueberries in a bowl of cold water. Stir them around with your hand for 10 seconds. Drain the blueberries and place them over paper towels.
Be sure to dry them completely, since blueberries will absorb the water and make them taste bland.
How Long Can You Freeze Blueberries?
Stored properly, blueberries will keep well in the freezer for 10 to 12 months. But try to consume them within 6 months as their quality will deteriorate the longer they stay in the freezer.
How to Thaw Blueberries
If you use frozen blueberries for yogurts, or smoothies, there is no need to thaw them. Just rinse them (if you didn’t rinse prior) and use them as is. I love throwing them into my oatmeal towards the end of cooking.
If your recipe requires thawing the berries, just soak the berries in room temperature water for 5 minutes, drain them, and dry them with paper towels.
How to Use Frozen Blueberries
Sure frozen blueberries might become mushy when thawed. But who cares? They still make the perfect ingredient for pies, muffins, and other baked goodies.
Oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies: Just add the berries as is! No need to defrost.
Muffins and pies: Coat the frozen blueberries in a bit of flour and add them to the batter. No need to thaw them beforehand. In fact, thawing the blueberries will make your baked desserts all blue and runny.
Popsicles: Cook the berries with some sugar.
Salads: Thaw them as instructed above before adding.
Tips & Tricks
Be sure to pick ripe blueberries for freezing. Blueberries won’t ripen further once they are picked, so you want to use large, dark blue blueberries.
If you want your blueberries to be a little sweeter, coat them in sugar as they defrost.