Blueberry season is so much fun. Whether you grow your own blueberries on blueberry bushes or have easy access to a local you-pick blueberry farm, picking and preserving blueberries is a fun and frugal family activity.
You'll find many ways to preserve blueberries to fill your food stores pantry.
Blueberries are great for you and are packed with vital nutrients to keep you healthy and fight off the effects of environmental contamination. However, blueberries also have a very short shelf life.
So learning different ways to preserve them helps save money and builds your long-term food stores too.
How to preserve blueberries
Our blueberries don't last long. Mostly because the kids love to eat fresh berries. I usually leave them at room temperature on the counter. And the kids grab a handful each time they pass through the kitchen.
To help make your berries last longer, first, wash them in a mild vinegar solution. Then place them in a container with a paper towel on the bottom. This will kill off the bacteria that lead to rotting and faster spoiling.
If you have an ant problem, try storing dry berries in your bottom crisper drawer in the fridge.
Can Your Blueberries
The best way to preserve blueberries for a long time is by canning them. My favorite way is to make blueberry jam.
However, you could also make blueberry pie filling to enjoy the taste of summer in the winter.
With a little sugar and citric acid or lemon juice, canning blueberries to use in other recipes later is easy to do.
Although some sites discuss using the raw pack canning method as one of the ways to preserve blueberries, I prefer the hot pack method. Learn more about the differences between hot packing and raw packing in canning by visiting the USDA National Agriculture Library site.
Other things I recommend for canning include
Dehydrating blueberries is easy. It's a good way to make use of defective berries. And dehydrating ripe blueberries keeps you in fruit year-round without taking up precious freezer space.
We did this last year when Dan bought pounds of blueberries on sale at the end of blueberry season. Although, in our part of the world, we pick wild blueberries in the woods. (Watching carefully for bears, of course.)
To dehydrate your blueberries, first, wash berries in cold water. Then carefully break the skins.
The easiest way to do this is to poke each one with a fork or with a toothpick a couple of times. This allows moisture to escape from your berries through the protective skin.
While some people blanch their blueberries, I find that a simple poke will do just fine.
Place your blueberries on the dehydrator tray in a single layer with plenty of room for air to flow around your ripe berries.
And while we're on the topic of dehyrators I'm saving for a new one. And I have my eye on the 9 Tray Exalibur Dehydrator.
The airflow space will increase as they dry, so you don't have to pay too much attention to the spacing beyond leaving some openings around the tray.
You could also dehydrate blueberries in your oven.
Dehydrate at 135 degrees for 16 to 20 hours. Your blueberries should crush into a powder when you pinch them between your thumb and forefinger. These can be used for baking, adding to trail mix, and even powdered to add to your food and drinks.
Tip: One of my children's favorite ways to preserve blueberries is to make blueberry fruit leather for a sweet and healthy treat.
Whether you spent the day blueberry picking or grabbed a few quarts from the grocery store, making fruit leather with kids is a fun way to preserve those juicy blueberries for the long term. Try a plain blueberry fruit leather recipe. Or make this easy blueberry apple fruit leather recipe.
Short on time? Try freezing blueberries.
How to freeze blueberries
If you have the freezer space to store your blueberries in the freezer, this can be the easiest option for preserving blueberries. Use these step-by-step instructions.
Start by washing them in cold water and drying your blueberries on a clean towel.
Next, lay them in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet (I find a rimmed baking sheet helps stop them from rolling off!)
Keep the blueberries in the freezer for 2-4 hours before moving them to an air-tight freezer-safe container or quart size freezer bags. Double bag them to prevent freezer burn. And then you can pull out how many you need when you are ready.
Make Blueberry Syrup
Not everyone has access to a pressure canner or water bath canner. And some people just aren't interested in water bath canning or worrying about a hot jar, another inch of headspace, or how to calculate a 7-quart canner load.
If this sounds like you, consider making blueberry syrup. It's a delicious, old-fashioned recipe that's a good alternative to maple, birch, or homemade syrup for pancakes. (and by the way, my homemade strawberry syrup recipe is also delicious.)
For extra light syrup, replace the 2 cups of sugar with stevia.
Tip: put this in a pretty bottle and give it as a gift. And by the way, blueberry vinegar is another pretty present and tastes great on a berry salad.
Bake with Blueberries
One of our favorite ways to preserve blueberries is to bake with them. And then freeze what you baked!
- Blueberry pancakes
- Blueberry artisan bread
- Gluten-Free blueberry crisp
- 20+ blueberry pie recipes
- 20 backpacking breakfast recipes (at least four using blueberries)
Freeze Dry Your Blueberries
Over the past years, I have seen more and more stories about freeze drying food. So learning how to freeze dry your blueberries is probably a good idea. However, to be completely honest, of the many ways to preserve blueberries, this is one I haven't yet tried.
I'm currently reading up on what to know before buying a freeze dryer, and I'll write it up in a few weeks!
Make Blueberry Wine
Learn how to make homemade blueberry wine to help preserve ripe blueberries before they start to rot!
The Home Winemaker's Companion offers many tasty-sounding recipes for homemade berry wines. And it includes a comprehensive section on how to make homemade blueberry wine, as well as wine from other berries.
Ways to use fresh blueberries
Fresh blueberries are great for snacking. Yet once you start looking, you'll find so many ways to use blueberries in your meals.
Blueberries lend themselves particularly well to sweet treats, snacks, and breakfasts. The early indigenous people of North America taught European explorers to pound blueberries into powder and mix it with meat to make pemmican.
Pancakes and waffles are favorite breakfast griddle recipes around here.
And when you find yourself with an abundance of fresh blueberries, just add those blueberries into your batter to add a fun and unique flavor. For this, you may want to coat your blueberries in sugar as it helps to suspend them in the batter better.
Smoothies are a fun way to get your family to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Blueberries make a great addition to these simple snacks. Add in a scoop of protein powder to bulk it up a bit more.
Blueberry muffins are a lot of fun and can make a great addition to your breakfast or snacks. Fresh blueberries leave them bursting with flavor you will love with your morning coffee.
As with pancakes, you should take the time to roll your blueberries in sugar to help keep them better distributed in the batter.
Blueberries and cream oatmeal are a simple way to use these antioxidant-packed fruits in your breakfast. Try adding in some fresh bananas, heavy cream, and some brown sugar for gourmet oatmeal; even picky eaters will enjoy.
Make blueberry yogurt to take advantage of the benefits of making your own yogurt at home. And this way, you won't miss out on any of the amazing flavors you are used to when you buy it at the store by adding your own fruit like mashed blueberries.
Churn up some old-fashioned homemade blueberry ice cream!
Mash those blueberries to use in your ice cream maker or in a simply no-churn ice cream recipe. Try adding in some raspberries or strawberries as well for even more flavor.
So there you have it, seven ways to preserve blueberries. Which one will you try first?
If you feel adventurous, why not give them all a go? The blueberry season may have come and gone. Or it might be just around the corner. Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these delicious berries all year long.
Remember to save and share this post with your friends and family – they may just want to start prepping their own long term food stores.