Blueberries in the Kitchen

Fresh blueberries are in abundance in the summer and fall months and can be used in many recipes in the kitchen. To enjoy the flavor of blueberries throughout the year, blueberries can also be preserved by drying, freezing, or canning.

Blueberry Pancakes

The best fresh berries will be plump and firm. Soft or shriveled berries should not be used. The berries should be blue to purple in color and covered in a whitish waxy substance, called bloom.

Fresh blueberries will only keep in the refrigerator for two to three days. They should kept dry and put in the refrigerator without being washed. The whitish hue on the skin of the berries actually helps to keep the berries fresh, so blueberries should not be washed until right before they are used.

Fresh blueberries have only 45 calories per half cup and are perfect to use fresh in fruit salads, on cereal and on top of cottage cheese or plain yogurt. Fresh blueberries can be used in cooking, but make sure to use a recipe that calls for fresh berries, or the sugar and moisture content may come out wrong.

Blueberries combine well with other berries, they are especially used in recipes with raspberries and strawberries.

Blueberries can be dried to use in in trail mixes and cereal. The berries should be washed and blanched by dipping them in boiling water for thirty seconds. Drain the berries and place them on a tray in a dehydrator for 24 to 36 hours. The berries can also be used in fruit leather, though because of their texture they should be used in combination with another fruit. Dried berries can be reconstituted to be used in pie or pudding by placing them in a bowl and covering them with boiling water. Let the berries soak for at least an hour, or until they are completely soft.

One of the easiest ways to preserve blueberries is to freeze them. Blueberries should not be washed prior to freezing, but should be rinsed before use. Blueberries in this form can be placed in a bag and frozen. However, they will tend to stick together in the bag. Only freeze them this way if freezing them in a set quantity; for example, the amount needed to make pies or muffins. The best way to freeze any berry is to place them on a cookie sheet (or the largest tray that will fit in the freezer), in a single layer until they are frozen. Then remove the berries and place them in bags and put them back into the freezer. Frozen berries will be good for about a year in a deep freezer.

Blueberries can be canned for long term storage. Berries can be canned whole, juiced or made into preserves. Whole berries are usually canned in syrup or juice using the “raw pack” method. Before canning any fruits or vegetables, consult the latest Ball Blue Book for proper recipe and processing times.

<< Plant, Grow, and Harvest Blueberries | Fun Facts about Blueberries >>

Resources:

Colorado State University Extension: Drying Fruits
Pick Your Own: How to Freeze Berries

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