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Preserving Summer’s Bounty: Beautiful Blueberries

Blueberries are such a mainstay of our diet! Every summer we put away as many as possible (while trying to be self-disciplined and not eat all the fresh ones in the process). Last summer we bought about 75-80 lbs and we are aiming to do the same again this year!

Not only are they just incredibly delicious, but blueberries are nutritional powerhouses (see this for more on the merits of this sweet little berry):

  • High in Vitamins C and E, as well as manganese
  • Chock full of antioxidants. Blueberries are rated one of the highest, as far as foods that supply these phytonutrients which reduce free-radical cell damage (this is very important, and helps to fight many conditions, including cancer)
  • Promote better vision and protect against macular degeneration
  • Help to protect the brain (specifically it's memory and learning functions) from oxidative stress and age-related conditions like Alzheimer's
  • Very high in fiber, which encourages healthier elimination. A very good thing. 🙂


Here is a box with my first 20 lbs of the season (this picture isn't actually 20 lbs- I've already used up more than half of the box before taking the picture). Plump, juicy and oh-so-good! There were a lot of naughty little fingers dipping into the berries while I dealt with them (mine included)!


Here's my basic method:

Start by filling up strainers or colanders with berries. Fill one side of the sink with cool water, and preferably some type of fruit/veggie cleaner to help remove any pesticide, exhaust, etc. residues.

I let each strainer sit in the water for about 3-5 minutes, occasionally swishing it around. When it's done, I transfer it to the next sink, where I rinse it off with cool water from my sink sprayer hose. I try to let it sit for a couple minutes, to drain out as much of the excess water as possible.


Next, I lay out dish towels on the counter (it's best to pick ones that aren't your absolute favorites- they don't generally get really stained, but it is a possibility). I dump one strainer full onto one tea towel. As I spread them out, I pick out any stray leaves, stems, green berries, etc. Then I lay another towel over top of the berries, and let it sit for a good 5 minutes.

The point is to use the towels to soak up as much excess water as possible. I actually give my berries a bit of a gentle rub down with the top towel after letting them sit, just to dry them off as much as I can before putting them in bags. This helps the berries to freeze nicely without all clumping together. I used to lay them out nicely on cookie sheets, to prevent clumping, but found it was so much work. I find that this method is so much faster and easier, and works just as well!


Just pretend that you can tell that this is me pouring blueberries from a towel into a bag. I fold up the 4 corners of the towel to lift it up, then open up one side and they easily slide right into the bag.

Once you get used to doing this, you get into a real rhythm of filling
empty strainers, putting them in the soaking water, rinsing them,
laying berries out, and putting dry berries into ziplocs. I've been doing this for so many summers now that I think I could almost do it in my sleep. I washed and dried and put away all 20 lbs within 30 minutes!


And here are my lovely berries, ready for the freezer. I find that a large ziploc will take about 5 lbs of berries, give or take. I filled 4 of these bags, and we ate about a pound or so fresh as well.

It's probably also worth mentioning that I never, ever buy my berries from a store. The best way to get cheap and fresh berries is to go straight to the farm, if at all possible! We love to do u-pick berries, which is definitely the cheapest way to get them when you consider the cost per lb. Most farms will also sell them pre-picked for a slightly higher price, but I can almost guarantee you that it will still be cheaper than getting them anywhere else, and fresher, too!

And that's it! Blueberries have got to be the easiest of all fruits to put away for the winter! Now they will be made into blueberries smoothies, crumbles, syrups, muffins, etc. all year long. 🙂

Are you blueberry lovers like we are? Do you take advantage of summer to stock up on them? How do you preserve your berries?

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  1. Oh, this is so helpful! I just ordered a flat from my Farmer’s Market to pick up on Saturday. I was planning to do the cookie sheet method that you mentioned and I’m glad that you shared a better way! Thanks.

  2. I picked on opening day this year as well. Although I purchased about 10 lbs. We ate a pound or so and I made some blueberry muffins too. I froze the rest into 4 bags of 4cups and 3 bags of 2 cups for easy access. I wanted to get more but I have a habit of wasting what I freeze so I am going to work on using the ones I buy this year and seeing how that goes and to determine what I need for next year. Picking berries is fun too. It has been really cool here in the midwest so no sun burning down and no bugs. Yeah.

  3. We live about 2 miles from a wonderful blueberry farm, and I’ve been going (with my mom or sister) to pick berries every Monday for about 2 hours. We get about 3 – 4 picks each year. It’s enough to give us LOTS of fresh berries in July, but also to give us plenty of berries to freeze/use throughout the year.

    My 18 month old is LOVING all the fresh berries, and he even managed to help us pick berries last time – leaving the green ones on the bush and only picking the blue ones. I was impressed!

    I usually scoop about 2 cups of berries into quart size bags. We freeze them unwashed, then I wash each bag as I’m ready to use it.

  4. Love blueberries too:) When I freeze my blueberries I do just about everything that you do except I will flash freeze them for about 10-15 minutes then put them into the freezer bags. This helps them not stick to each other.

    Last summer was the first time I did froze these little buddies. It was such a wonderful pleasure to be able to serve my husband muffins, pancakes, waffles, and lemon-blueberry cake during days that where blustery cold outside:)

  5. We just went to the blueberry farm this past weekend! We picked about 12-15 pounds which will last quite a while with just two little ones. We wash them, spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Then we store them in zip-lock bags in the freezer and just grab them when we want them. Lately we all prefer to eat them frozen!

  6. We have lots of wild ones around here, starting soon…they are mostly still green. I will check again next week. I try to pick those myself, as that way it is free (other than the small amount of gas to get there). However its time consuming and as I learned last year it can be a bit dangerous…a bear was like 5 feet from me. Thankfully there were no issues and my daughter was not with me. Don’t go alone in bear country! I would imagine farms are better for that reason…but the wild ones are so sweet and organic of course! But small. Last year I couldn’t pick enough so I purchased some at the end of the season too (wild ones, from someone who picked them) and that way I paid less for them since it was the end of the season. I also freeze them, just like you do.

    I need to go to the strawberry farm very soon. They just came on here last week. Not sure when I will fit that in. Usually here strawberries (farm), blueberries (wild)and raspberries (wild too) start at the same time. Yikes! Its always a rush.

  7. Oh I wanted to ask you…when you wash produce and such in your sink, do you use filtered water? Or just the tap water with some fruit and veggie wash added in? I would think for me it would take too much water to use my filter that much. I don’t always need to wash stuff off well with fruit and veggie wash like if its from my garden…not sure what to do.

  8. Nola, berry season is a bit of a rush around here, too. Thankfully the wild blackberries here don’t ripen until mid-August, once everything else is pretty much done (and I just purposefully try to get it all done before then, if I can). I wish we had wild blueberries- so fun!

    As for the water I use, I just use tap water with the produce wash added in. I use filtered water for cooking as often as I can, but since we only use a pitcher filter (a Brita) at the moment, it’s just way too time consuming to do it for washing produce as well. It’s not my ideal, but it’s all baby steps, right? 🙂

  9. We went blueberry picking over the 4th of July holiday at a local organic farm. It was such fun. We picked a huge bucket full of berries. I was only able to freeze a small bit because we ate most of the berries fresh and I used some for soaked oatmeal blueberry muffins.

    I didn’t rinse my blueberries before freezing. I just laid them out on a cookie sheet, stuck them in the freezer then bagged. I rinsed before using.

  10. Finally… someone who freezes as many blueberries as we do! Now I don’t feel so crazy. We have about 60 pounds so far this year but I think 80 would be great. I get mine in a variety of places including farms but I find the cheapest ones at the grocery store here in the Seattle area … Fred Meyer. I guess that might not be true if you get organic ones as they don’t run as good a sales on those.

  11. I forgot to add – I have also stopped “tray freezing” because that is way too space and time consuming when you are doing 20 pounds at a time. If they are mostly dry when you bag them, they will not stick together. I do think it is best to wash them first though, even though you have to dry them, because it is a pain to wash them when you are ready to use them.

  12. We also have an amazing organic pick you own blueberry farm quite close to us, that is very inexpensive. And we LOVE berries! I put up about 40 lbs of strawberries between the freezer and jams. We will do some raspberry jam (only about 10 lbs of berries as they are VERY expensive), 40 lbs of peaches (in preserves & canned) and hopefully about 80 lbs of blueberried. The blueberries I usually freeze but am hoping to try drying them this year. We like dried blueberries more than even raisins. I also found a pick you own organic cranberry farm in the area and plan to do the same with those.

    We have a small (15 acre) hobby farm in ME where we raise our own chickens, turkeys & beef cows for meat and have laying hens. We have started planting fruit trees including blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, cherrys & peaches, but have not gotten much more than what we can munch for a harvest yet. Few more years and it will all be off of our own property.

    I just love your blog. Thanks for all the inspirations!

  13. Last year was the first time for me to buy a big flat of BC berries to wash/freeze. I did the same thing as you although it seems you are much quicker at it. Otherwise, I’ve always watched for sales on frozen berries.

  14. Oh YUM!!!!! I wish we could afford that many blueberries. Around here they are rather expensive, even if you are picking your own, which is what we do. We have never gotten as much as you! Frozen blueberries are one of my favorite snacks, and if I didn’t have to make three or four 1-gallon baggies last all year, I would be constantly making blueberry recipes! Oh – and I can’t believe how FAST you are at putting yours up! We’ve always done the tray method, and you’re right – it’s very slow. I’d like to try doing it your way!

    Our blueberries aren’t quite in season here yet, though. I find it odd that everyone who lives North of us gets their blueberries in first, and folks who live south of us get theirs even later. Any idea why that’s so?

  15. I pick wild blueberries around here (upstate NY) but as mentioned before it is very time consuming! My husband got a small blueberry rake for me last year, which makes it faster for picking, but then I have the tedious job of sorting out all the leaves and green berries. There must be a better way to do it and I haven’t figured it out yet! But sitting at a kitchen table sorting is much easier for this pregnant lady than standing hunched over in a berry patch for hours. 🙂 Our blackberries come on later too, and strawberries just ended, so thankfully I can space out all my picking.

    Any tips on wild blackberry picking with a 2-year old? Last year I had her in a backpack, but I think this year she’ll want to be picking. I’m concerned about the thorns…does anyone else do this with a little one?

  16. Amy, I also like to pick wild blackberries, and usually have my young kids around as well. The two best solutions I have found are to bring fun things to entertain them to get them to stay in the stroller, including LOTS of snacks and drinks!

    The other thing that was helpful was going with a friend last summer, and her young children. The kids played together and helped to distract each other, and then they weren’t as concerned with what us moms were doing. We managed to get in a really good picking session with our littles playing together, so I’m hoping to try that again this year! Otherwise, I love my Ergo for carrying babies and toddlers on my back!

  17. I grew up on wild blueberries. I never knew there were such things as blueberry farms. Hmm.. I wonder if we have them here. I’m addicted to fresh blueberries also.

  18. We freeze lots of berries (all types) as well. We also make lots of jams. Here is a blueberry one.

    Blueberry Jam

    1 pound fresh blueberries (or sugarfree frozen blueberries, thawed)
    1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Stevia Extract Powder
    7 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

    Place blueberries in a saucepan, mashing slightly with a potato masher. Simmer until soft, stirring occasionally. Dissolve stevia in lemon juice and stir into blueberries. Simmer until jam is thickened, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool and refrigrate in a covered jar or store in a freezer.

  19. Oh, we LOVE blueberries here too! Blueberry pancakes every weekend is a must or else the troops will retaliate! I have a vacuum sealer that I use to store the berries in 2 cup portions. We are heading out for a super day of picking tomorrow. This year I want to also can some blueberry pie filling so I can make pies in a hurry when needed.

  20. We just picked some blueberries on Wednesday! Our first time doing it…we just got about 8lbs though…I froze mine pretty much the same way you did! 🙂

  21. To the comment about wild blueberries- no there isn’t a better way that I have come up with, I find the blueberry rakes pretty useless. I do find it easier to have a contanier around my neck on a string rather than have to hold the container, that way I can pick with two hands (works for all berries really, not just wild ones). Sometimes I long for a blue berry farm like when I was a kid since they were so big and easy to pick and high bush…but they don’t have any around here since everyone picks wild ones.

    I brought my daughter (then 2.5) last summer raspberry picking so the thorn thing was an issue too…but I told her to just pick the ones on the edges and she wore long sleeves (so do I). This year we will bring our ergo for the baby. My daughter LOVES picking berries.

  22. Hi Stephanie,

    I am planning to go tomorrow to pick berries in the AM, but won’t be returning home until very late in the evening. Do you think the berries would be OK in a relatively cool (I’m not sure if there is a/c though) home for the day until I wash and freeze them first thing Sunday (two days from today) or do they have to go into the fridge? I’d like to pick a lot, but I doubt this fridge will have space. 🙁

  23. Do you find that washing the blueberries first makes the skins tough? I read that it would and so I froze them without washing them this year, but would prefer to wash if it’s not a big thing…please let me know!

      1. @Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, I guess I hadn’t realized if they’re in smoothies, it’s unlikely to tell if the skins are tougher. I primarily froze my for smoothies too, so thanks, next year I will be able to wash before I freeze them, which is much better I think!

  24. I love blueberries, very good article, the information you provide really useful to me. Thank you for giving science a valuable, if there is a chance I’ll come back:)

  25. Berry purée is wonderful drizzled over vanilla ice cream or other desserts like as cheesecake, poundcake, or angel food cake. But my favorite use for purée is to make thirst-quenching berry lemonade. I prefer not to mix berries for this, as I like the unique flavor of each. For each 12 ounces of frozen lemonade concentrate, you’ll need about 2 cups of berry purée — plus sweetener and/or lemon juice to suit my taste.

  26. We love blueberries at our house!! We are very blessed to have a farm where we can pick organic blueberries for $1/lb! Our biggest problem has been finding cool enough days to go. It is really hot right now in NC! We have only been once so far, but I want more before the season is over!

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