Preserve Your Blueberry Harvest
This is one of my favorite times of the year when all the perennial fruits ripen. In my part of the world, we have raspberries, Marionberries, and boysenberries available right now. The strawberries are just about done, but best of all, the blueberries are ready to harvest. I bought 10 pounds of blueberries this weekend from my favorite produce guy and I’ve been busy finding ways to preserve them.
Why Should You Preserve Blueberries?
Well, according to WebMD, the blueberry is a “superfood” with no side effects (except maybe blue stained fingers) and is powerful enough to help you:
- lower your cholesterol
- reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer
- put you in a better mood
- it’s packed with antioxidants
- high in potassium and vitamin C
- and has anti-inflammatory benefits
With healthy benefits like that, you should surely stock up your freezer. This good tasting superfood is available right now in your local supermarket or from your local u-pick farmer. My berries are going into smoothies this summer. Blueberries are so versatile, it was hard to pick just five things to do with them.
5 Things to Do With 10 Pounds of Blueberries
1. Freeze them (of course) – Even if you can’t get to any of these other ideas to preserve blueberries, putting them into the freezer is easy to do. You can put up huge amounts, as long as you have the freezer space. Once frozen, they can be taken out as needed and used for any of the other ideas listed below. Here’s how to do it:
- Wash the blueberries in a colander. Lay them out on a towel (that you don’t mind getting stained) and gently dry the berries. Remove any stems left over from picking, and any unripe or over ripe berries that you find.
- Lay them, single layer, on a cookie sheet or use my plastic tub method. I find that something with a small lip on it makes them easier to transport from counter to freezer. No need to cover them. It’s okay to put them close together. They won’t stick if you dried them first.
- Into the freezer they go. Check them after a few hours.
- Once they are completely frozen, place them in a plastic zip bag, label with the date and you’re done. You can remove just the amount you need for smoothies, yogurt topping, or baking.
2. Make blueberry sauce – This turned out so tasty it will be a new family favorite. Plus, and it was quick and easy to make in under 10 minutes. Use it in yogurt, as a topping for pancakes or on ice cream. I’m sure you can come up with even more ideas.
- 1 pint of blueberries, washed and cleaned
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 cup orange juice (substitute pineapple or apple juice for a different flavor)
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (substitute almond extract)
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
Heat the berries, 1/4 cup of water, orange juice, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring it to a slow boil for 5 minutes until the berries start to burst. In a separate bowl combine 1/4 cold water and cornstarch. Add the cornstarch to the berry mixture, stirring constantly. It will thicken up immediately. Add more water as needed to adjust the thickness. Remove from heat and stir in the extract and cinnamon.
You can use it (warm and yummy) right away, but if you refrigerate for 24 hours the flavors will enhance even more. If you can keep it around that long, the sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
3. Blueberry syrup – use this recipe from Food and Wine for Perfect Blueberry Syrup. Using only blueberries, water, sugar and lemon you can have syrup that will last for 6 months in the fridge and is tasty enough for Sunday pancakes or gift giving.
4. Dehydrate those Blue Beauties – It will take 6-7 pounds of fresh berries to get 1 pound of dehydrated blueberries. Dried blueberries are shelf stable in the pantry for three to six months and contain all the nutrients of fresh berries. You can re-hydrate your berries by soaking them in warm water for a few hours. They will re-absorb the moisture and become moist and tender. Different kinds of blueberries absorb different levels of moisture, so test your type to make sure they re-hydrate as you want.
Follow these directions to dehydrate blueberries from Self-Reliant School?
5. Make blueberry vinegar – This was so simple and turned out delicious. I’m waiting a few more weeks for the flavors to really meld, but we used a bit of it with dinner last night and it was tasty.
You will need:
- 1 pint of blueberries (washed and cleaned)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- The peel from one orange (keep it in big chunks so it’s easy to remove later)
- Enough apple cider vinegar to cover the berries (substitute balsamic, rice or white wine vinegar to suit your taste)
Place the berries in a saucepan. Lightly crush them with a fork. Add the vinegar and the sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer and cook 3 minutes. It will turn a beautiful purple color. Allow to cool a few minutes and transfer to a clean canning jar. Use a non-reactive lid or cover with plastic wrap and then a canning jar lid. Once it’s had time to cool, put in the refrigerator and store for 1 week. Strain the vinegar from the berries through a strainer into a clean bottle.
Your blueberry vinegar will last for up to a year if stored in a cool dark place. Use it in cooking or use it in homemade salad dressings. The possibilities are tasty and endless!
Try these 5 ways to preserve blueberries while the season is in full swing. With 1o pounds of healthy, delicious blueberries you will have enough for pancakes, muffins, smoothies and salad dressing. What is your favorite way to preserve blueberries? Please take a minute and leave a comment below.