If you like blueberries in the winter, for blueberry pie (see this page for a great recipe), dessert, or just in a bowl; just imagine how good it would taste if you had picked a couple of quarts fresh or bought a them from a farm stand and then quickly froze them at home! It is also one of the simplest ways to put up a fruit for the winter. Here's how to do it, complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. Your own frozen blueberries will taste MUCH better than anything you've ever had from a store.
(also saskatoons and huckelberries)
Start with the freshest blueberries you can get. Look for plump, full berries with a good color. I've used blueberries as an example, but these directions would equally well for any other berry (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.) See the picking tips page for other berries.
Pick out and remove any bits of stems, leaves and soft or mushy blueberries. One peculiarity about blueberries that is different from other berries is, if you wash them before freezing, the skins become tougher. If you plan to use them later in cooking, I haven't found this to be a problem. Since I use the frozen blueberries only to make blueberry pie, blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes in the dead of winter, the cooking softens them, anyway. But if you plan to use them uncooked after thawing, you might wait to wash them until AFTER you thaw them. If you are going to cook them later, just put them in a big bowl of water to wash and help sort out the berries!
If you plan not to wash the blueberries, you can just swirl them around in a colander or large sieve, to let any dirt particles pass through!
If you washed the berries, now use a large sieve or colander to remove as much water as possible. I usually let them sit for about 10 minutes in the colander.
One person wrote to say they use a salad spinner to dry the berries. They said it works really well, so long as you don t put too many berries in the spinner at one time (it gets too hard to spin it). We spin about a cup or so at a time. By drying with the spinner, they are able to stack the berries higher in the freezer pan than 1 layer without them sticking together significantly. I'll have to try that!
there are two ways of doing this. If you have space in your freezer, spread the berries out in a large oven pan with a lip or ridge. Put enough on to make 1 layer. this way they will freeze quickly and not be frozen together in a lump, so later you can remove only what you need without thawing the rest.
If your freezer isn't that big, just drain as much of the water as you can, then put them into whatever container will fit in your freezer. After they are frozen, they may stick together a little bit, but should break apart fairly easily.
Pop them into the coldest part of the freezer, or the quick freeze shelf, if your freezer has one!
I leave them in the freezer overnight, to get completely frozen.
I love the FoodSavers (see this page for more information) with their vacuum sealing! I am not paid by them, but these things really work. If you don't have one, ziploc bags work, too, but it is hard to get as much air out of the bags. remove the air to prevent drying and freezer burn. On the left is the bag with frozen berries before vacuum sealing, and to the right is the same bag after vacuum sealing.
If the fruit is very wet or juicy, you can freeze the bag unsealed, upright in yourt freezer, then vacuum seal it the next day while still frozen. And while nothing works as well as the vacuum sealer; there are low budget alternatives:
To remove the excess air from a ziploc bag, put a straw inside the bag and zip it closed as far as possible. Then suck the air out of the bag, pinch the straw shut where it enters the bag and pull it from the bag and quickly zip the bag the rest of the way.
You can also submerge the bag in water up to the zip and then close it. The weight of the water pushes all the air out.."
Of course, you'll want to label them with the contents and date, or all this work could be wasted, if you can't identify them later, or don't know how old they are.
Pop them into the deep freeze, or in the coldest part of your regular freezer!
To use them, just set them in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for a couple of hours. I wouldn't recommend the microwave unless you are planning to cook with them!
Freezing keeps blueberries safe to eat almost indefinitely, but the recommended maximum storage time of 12 months is best for taste and quality. The quality of the frozen blueberries is maintained best in a very cold freezer (deep freezer), and one that keeps them frozen completely with no thaw cycles. Excluding any air from inside the bags which leads to freezer burn, by using vacuum-sealed bags, is also important to maintaining quality.
[General picking tips and a guide to each fruit and vegetable] [How much do I need to pick? (Yields - how much raw makes how much cooked or frozen)] [Selecting the right varieties to pick] [All about apple varieties - which to pic
[ Easy Home Canning Directions] [FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems] [Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!] [Free canning publications to download and print]