When I was growing up, we always had a whole shelf in our freezer devoted to frozen blueberries. Around early July our family of six would visit the same local blueberry farm to u-pick about a hundred pounds of berries. All of us kids ended up with berry-stained hands and bellies full of fruit as we drove home with the car packed with berry crates. My mom froze them to use in pies, blueberry sauce on waffles, muffins and other goodies throughout the year.
Freezing blueberries, or any berry for that matter, is a really easy way to preserve the harvest through winter. It’s fast to pull out just enough for your needs, one cup at a time. Freezing also requires the least amount of prep time compared to other methods of food preservation, like drying and canning. The only catch is having the freezer space big enough to store your haul.
In our case, we inherited an upright freezer that has earned it’s place in our small home. We keep it filled with frozen berries, veggies from the garden, bulk beef when we buy a portion of a cow, and homemade chicken stock. Prior to this house, we had a smaller chest freezer that doubled as counter space and food storage. If you get into the habit of using them, the cost of the appliance earns it’s keep over time.
My recent blueberry u-pick excursion yielded fifty pounds of ripe, juicy, organic Blue Crop blueberries to process. They will keep for several days, but I decided to freeze them up quickly since I had the time and Baby #2 hadn’t arrived yet. The whole process took about two hours and I could do it all sitting down. Perfect!
I packed ten cups at a time of fresh blueberries into each one gallon freezer bag – sorting as I packed to pick out any bad or overripe fruit. That equaled about 3.75 pounds of berries per bag on average. Blue Crop blueberries are rather large, so a smaller berry-producing variety might weigh more per freezer bag. Use good quality freezer bags to reduce any freezer burn over time.
I didn’t rinse them, as that adds water and encourages the fruit to stick together once frozen. If your berries are dusty, you could rinse and then allow to air dry before packing. Or you could freeze them individually on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, dump them in a bag together and they won’t stick to each other. When you’re dealing with fifty pounds of fruit though, that’s a lot of space, cookie sheets and time.
The fifty pounds of berries yielded thirteen gallon bags of fruit. Twelve of those bags went into the freezer, laying flat so they take up less space and can stack on top of each other. One bag we saved to enjoy fresh and in a delicious pie. They should last at least a year in our upright freezer.
It’s wonderful to be carrying on the tradition my parents began so many years ago. I learned a lot from them on how to get as much as possible from the growing season, and this is one of those lessons. It’s not a big time or money requirement for a reward you can enjoy all year.