Fresh Blueberries are a healthy, versatile and delicious fruit.
Summertime is when Blueberries are in full force across the country. They are native to North America and make for a wonderful summer snack. Fresh Blueberries are packed with antioxidants plus they are high in potassium and Vitamin C. Read on to find three easy ways to preserve and store fresh blueberries.
These sweet and a little tart berries are perfect for baking. You can add a handful to your morning smoothie with a scoop collagen powder, sprinkle them on your salad or simply enjoy them as a sweet treat.
A handful of fresh Blueberries
Blueberries are fun to pick right off the bushes, if you don’t have any blueberries bushes, you can find them at your local farmers market or local grocery store.
In North American fresh blueberry season runs
anywhere from April to late September.
Check out these 3 Tips for buying blueberries at the store from One Pot Meals.
How to clean and store fresh blueberries
If you don’t have room in your freezer to store your fresh blueberries, it’s best to wash them in a vinegar and water solution to extend their freshness. Fill a bowl with about 1 quart of cold water and mix in 2 tablespoons of white, distilled vinegar. Pick out any bruised or damaged blueberries, remove the stems and allow them to soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
Use a strainer to drain the vinegar solution and rinse the fresh blueberries. Spread the berries on paper-towels or a cotton towel lined backing sheet in a single layer and let them dry completely. This process cleans away mold spores and bacteria that cause the blueberries to deteriorate at a quicker rate.
Store fresh blueberries in a paper-towel-lined container with a sealed lid and keep them in your refrigerator. Your fresh blueberries should last up to two weeks if you refrigerate them quickly.
How to freeze fresh blueberries
To freeze blueberries follow the cleaning process describes above. Once the berries are completely dried, transfer them to a large freezer bag, a canning jar or plastic container with a sealed lid. Your blueberries will not stick together as long as they don’t have any moisture between them. This will make it easy to simply scoop out the amount of berries you want without having to thaw the whole batch.
3 ways to preserve fresh blueberries
The three easiest ways to preserve blueberries besides freezing or keeping them them in the fridge is to make jam, ferment or infuse them.
Blueberry jam is super easy to make and is great for newbie canners.
A spoon full of Blueberry jam is perfect on buttered toast or as a glaze over chicken or pork. You can also mix a little blueberry jam in your vinaigrette. Check out this Lemon salad dressing for your next summer salad.
For a basic Blueberry Jam you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 pounds of fresh blueberries
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Add your washed fresh blueberries to a large pot that has a heavy bottom. Use a potato masher to slightly break apart the blueberries. Stir in sugar and lemon juice.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the jam begins to thicken. Stir often to avoid burning.
Carefully ladle the hot jam into warm, previously washed jars. Be sure to leave a 1/4 inch of headspace for expansion. Wipe the rims and top the jars with the canning jar lids and rings. Follow the hot water bath canning method described in his article from the Prairie Homestead.
If you want, you can skip the hot water canning and make refrigerator jam instead. For the best flavor, enjoy your jam within one month so use small jam jars, if possible.
Fermenting blueberries, or any other fruits or vegetables, are also an easy way of preservation. Often only 2 ingredients are required:
- 2 cups of fresh blueberries
- 1 teaspoon salt
Add your washed blueberries and salt to a clean pint sized canning jar. Wipe the rim, add the canning lid and screw on the ring. Shake the jar to mix the salt with the berries. Re-open the jar and smaller jar or glass fermentation weight to keep the blueberries submerged in the brine. Seal the jar with the lid and canning ring.
Store your fermented blueberries at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Unscrew the canning ring once a day to ‘burp’ the ferments, this will release the gases that build up during the fermentation process. Ferment for 3 days and have a taste. Once your fermented blueberries have the desired sour-tangy flavor you can transfer the jar to the refrigerator. For the best flavor and texture use your fermented blueberries within two weeks.
Blueberry Infused Gin
Once you made your own fruit infused gin you will never buy store bought infused alcohol again. It is super easy to make and the flavor is so much better when you make your own. Again, you will only need 2 ingredients:
- 1 cup of fresh blueberries
- 2 cups of mid-range Gin
Add washed whole blueberries to a clean glass pint jar and fill with Gin. Wipe the rim, add the lid and tightly screw on the ring.
Store infused blueberries at room temperature.
The best place to store your infused blueberries of out of direct sunlight, in a dark cupboard. As the blueberries get infused they will loose their color and become pale, the alcohol will become colorful. Tip the jar upside down every few days to blend your infusion.
Allow the blueberries to infuse for at least 2 weeks before having a taste. The longer the infusion process, the more flavorful the blueberry gin will become. To speed up the infusion process you can use cooked berries instead of fresh blueberries.
You can find more food preservation and canning recipes on the Minnesota from Scratch website.
Do you have a favorite way to store your fresh blueberries? Tell us about it in the comment section below.