How to Freeze Fresh Blueberries
Have you ever purchased a bag of frozen blueberries from the grocery store? When you wanted to pull out a few berries for your morning smoothie, you found the entire bag was frozen into one big blueberry lump, right? I bet you thought "there has got to be a better way!" You are right! While there is technically not a wrong way to freeze blueberries, there is certainly a better way. Some people may simply measure their berries into freezer-safe bags, toss them in the freezer, and call it a day. This may be the fastest way, but definitely not the best. To maintain the quality of your blueberries so that you can use them in a fresh salsa or bake them into a summery dessert, follow this method for freezing blueberries.
Don’t Rinse the Berries
When freezing most fruits and vegetables, the instructions usually tell you to rinse and dry the produce first. This makes sense, considering most crops are picked, processed, and handled by multiple people along the way. Rinsing, however, can lead to residual moisture being left on the produce which can cause the fruits or vegetables to stick together when frozen.
Blueberries, on the other hand, have a natural protective coating known as bloom. It is the waxy, somewhat cloudy coating you have seen on your berries. Bloom is a natural protectant against pests and bacteria, and it is also naturally nonstick. If you rinse the blueberries before freezing, you will remove the coating and have to carefully dry each and every tender berry before freezing to prevent sticking. Save yourself a lot of work and don't rinse the berries.
Prepare to Freeze
When you get your fresh blueberries home from the market or U-Pick farm, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. Pour the berries onto the baking sheet and pick out any smashed berries, leaves, twigs, etc. Be sure the berries are in a single layer so that they can freeze quickly and evenly. Once frozen, you can easily lift the parchment or wax paper and pour the berries into a freezer-safe container. You may take this opportunity to measure the berries and mark your containers with the measurements, along with the date, making it easy when you need a specific amount for your blueberry muffins or fresh fruit cobblers. Frozen blueberries are best within six months but can be stored for up to 10 months.
Rinse Only When You Use Them
When making smoothies you don't need to thaw the blueberries – just rinse them quickly with cool water and toss them in the blender. When you need to use thawed berries in a recipe, cover the berries with room-temperature water and thaw for about five minutes per cup. Then drain, dry, and use.