Blueberries, native to North America, are quite famous for their sweet, exquisite taste and their pretty blue-purple hue. Whether they are commercially grown or otherwise, this luscious fruit never fails to please its consumer.
Just like other berries, they taste best when they are ripe and can be used to make a variety of delectable dishes, most of them being delicious desserts. This includes blueberry cheesecake, blueberry sauce, blueberry-lemon cake and what not! The list can go on and on.
They are also a must-have in many households where the people claim that their breakfasts (or snacks) are incomplete without blueberry jam and jelly. However, no matter what form they are eaten in, they always taste marvelous and heavenly!
Though these North American fruits have won the hearts of many, they typically start going bad after two weeks. Proper storage will ensure that they last for about six weeks but keeping it fresh for longer than that timespan is near to impossible. They might even go bad before six weeks and they would certainly appear moldy and too soft. Throw them out as soon as you realize they are rotten because eating one that is, might cause stomach trouble to anyone who ingests it.
Shelf-Life of Frozen Blueberries
Although blueberries are nowadays found in plenty all year round, there is no doubt that the seasonal ones taste the best. Many dislike buying them outside the seasonal months and thus want to hoard and store as many as they can. And what’s the best way to store things? That’s right, freezing them!
Freezing blueberries will make them last for a long time and when we say “long”, we mean months or even a whole year. In most cases, they last for about 8 to 12 months and some claim they can last longer than that. How long yours will last will most definitely depend on what condition they were in when you bought them. The fresher they were, the more likely they are to last longer!
The blueberry season lasts for about four months. Hence store enough to last the next 8 months till the new season begins, depending on what you want to use it for and how much and how often you plan to use it. Storing the fruits in excess will only lead to wastage because when the new season brings fresher ones, you will most likely feel the pull to buy those without using the ones that you already have. So plan ahead and buy accordingly.
Freezing the Blueberries
Now that you know what the best way to store blueberries are, you should also probably know how to freeze them properly. Knowing how to do this will make it easier to store the berries and ensure long shelf life. So follow the steps ahead for best results:
- Picking the best berries
As mentioned before, picking the best berries will play a huge role in determining how long the berries will last. Look for the freshest and most luscious looking ones (tender and sweet-smelling). Buying berries that are near their expiry date or ones that seem too firm and citrusy might not be the best option because remember, you may store them for months and sometimes freezing and thawing can alter textures, taste, etc.
Refrigerate the berries if you do not want to freeze them immediately and want to use them for other than storing purposes. However, remember that the freezing has to be done by the end of two weeks. Or, you could buy a separate batch to store and freeze and another to eat during the season.
- Washing the berries
Most fruits have to be rinsed and dried before they are frozen. But there is slight disagreement on whether blueberries should be washed or not. Many prefer to leave them unwashed because the bloom on the berries (the white, waxy coating on the berries) prevents them from sticking to one another when they are frozen.
Another reason for not washing blueberries is that research shows their skin becomes tough after defrosting, provided that they are washed before the freezing. However, many claim that this change is indistinguishable.
Now, you can decide what to do based on the facts. If you prefer clean berries that you can use without delay, wash them. But if you do this, make sure they are completely dry before being stored in the freezer. Otherwise, any excess moisture will lead the berries to stick to one another when being frozen.
- Freezing the berries
For this step, take out a baking sheet and place it on a tray or pan. Dump the blueberries on it but keep enough distance between each berry so that they are not touching and neither are stacked against each other in multiple layers. Only a single layer will have to do.
Next, pop the tray containing the berries in the freezer for 2-3 hours or as long as it needs to freeze. Remove the berries quickly to avoid freezer burn.
- Transferring the berries
Transfer the berries to a zip-lock bag, vacuum bag or any other type that will allow air to be removed from inside the bag as much as possible after the berries are placed in it. Minimal contact with air will prevent freezer burns. Many use air-tight containers but even then, air remains inside the box hence bags are used which allow air to be pushed out. Secure and seal the bags and if you want, put labels on them with the date on which you are freezing them.
Now all you have to do is, find a place in your freezer to fit the bag with the blueberries in it. Then freeze them for as long as you like, taking them out just whenever you need them.
To Wrap Up
With the blueberry season coming up, we hope you enjoy it thoroughly for the whole four summer months and beyond that, now that you know just how easy it is to freeze and store them. Make delicious desserts with the berries and remember, the fresher, the better!