Presenting one of our favorite warm-weather rituals: Sitting in the sun and savoring the sweet flavor of blueberries as we put them away by the pint. Yep, it’s a sight for sore eyes—and a sure sign summer has arrived—when the markets are stocked with an abundance of ripe, royal blue gems. This seasonal fruit provides unrivaled pleasure when at its prime, but you better eat fast or you’ll be left with a fistful (or fridgeful) of mush before you know it. But we’ve got good news, guys—your freezer can keep this summer treat fresh for up to six months. Follow our advice on how to freeze blueberries and you’ll never see them turn to squish again.
How to Freeze Blueberries for Pancakes, Pies, Cakes and More
1. Bring home the best
Frozen blueberries will only be as good as they were when first stored, so the next time you scoop them up from the store or farmers market, make sure you pick the finest pint. Unlike summer stone fruit, blueberries will not continue to ripen once you bring them home. (It’s a sad story, but the steep descent towards decay begins as soon as a blueberry is plucked from the bush.) That’s why it’s so important not to settle for subpar berries from the get-go.
So how can you tell that blueberries were picked at their peak? Color is the number one clue. Ripe berries should be a deep shade of blue all over (the darker, the better) with a silvery sheen. Avoid berries that have a red hue (often seen near the top where the stem once met the fruit) as this means they were picked too soon. After you’ve assessed for color, test for texture: The best of the bunch will have a surface that’s firm and smooth.
2. Keep them dry
By all means, wash a single serving of your blueberries so you can enjoy a handful before you freeze ‘em solid...just don’t wash the whole basket. Ever notice how that silver stuff on the skin of blueberries goes away with a quick rinse? Well, it’s actually a protective coating called bloom that keeps out the bad (like bugs and bacteria) and seals in the good (like moisture and flavor). Avoid washing blueberries before freezing so your summer snack can stay protected by its bloom when temperatures dip.
3. Spread blueberries on a baking pan
No, you’re not actually going to bake them—not yet, anyway. (Frozen blueberries are excellent in baked treats but more on that below.) Arrange the berries in a single layer on a shallow pan or cookie sheet and freeze for three hours, or until they’re hard as rocks. It might seem like an unnecessary step, but the sheet pan method is the most effective way to make berries frost over fast.
4. Transfer frozen berries to storage bags
Now that your blueberries are nice and chilled, they’re ready to move into a more permanent home. Promptly transfer your summer loot to plastic freezer bags and avoid heavy petting. (You want them to melt in your mouth later, not in your palm right now.)
5. Freeze for up to six months
Label the plastic storage bag(s) with the date and stick them in the freezer where they’ll happily sit for half a year. Final step? Congratulate yourself. Because once those dreary winter days come, you’ll be enjoying a nice summer treat.