All these gorgeous blueberries, and wouldn't it be fabulous to keep some of the beautiful summer morsels for enjoying in the dead of winter? Freezing blueberries is a perfect way to do this, and here's a method that maximizes flavor, freshness and ease of use later on.
'Cause who wants to stand guessing over a frost-bitten solid lump of icy unidentifiable freezer spooge?
Choose ripe but still firm fruit.
Pick out any overripe or mushy berries at each stage of this process.
Assemble your fruit, a large bowl and a strainer that will fit inside the large bowl.
Top Tip: For less aesthetically pleasing, non-photo berry washing I use the bottom bowl and strainer of a salad spinner.
Fill the bowl half-full of water, and gently place some of your fruit in the strainer. You want to give the berries plenty of room to move, so don't overcrowd them. My rule of thumb is to only have a few layers of berries in the strainer at any one time. Dip the strainer in the bowl, until the berries float up in the water, and give some gentle swirls. Use your hands to move the berries around, separating stems and other detritus from the berries themselves.
Let them soak for a few minutes, then swish again.
Gently raise the strainer and allow the berries drip off for a few minutes, shaking gently to help the process along.
Pour onto a kitchen towel or paper towel, forming a layer only one berry deep, to minimize drying time. If you have an industrial quantity of berries, clear off your largest counter, overlap a bunch of kitchen towels, and spread them out there.
Top Tip: Blueberries bounce like nobody's business. Pour gently.
Allow them to air-dry without much jostling, and make another pass for any errant stems or mushy berries.
Now, while the berries are drying, go have a hunt around. You need to find rimmed baking sheets or pans that fit on your freezer shelves, and shelf space to fit them in. Sometime I am lucky and I can clear off a whole shelf, sometimes I stack haphazardly.
You may require more than one pan, and here's a special trick of mine - stack the pans up from smallest to largest, and that way they will pile on top of each other easier.
If you have two pans of similar size, you can place a cooling rack between them and continue stacking merrily.
You may want to test out some configurations of pans and racks on shelves before the actual implementation, like a kitchen-based game of Jenga. Also, it gives you a great excuse to spend some quality time with your head in the freezer, which is always welcome this time of year when it's 100 outside.
When the berries are completely dry, which could take 30 minutes or up to a few hours, depending on the volume of berries, spread them out on the rimmed baking sheets or baking pans that you have pre-identified as fitting into your freezer.
Make the berry layer only one berry thick.
Now let them enjoy their deep-freeze arctic vacation undisturbed for at least 12 hours, and up to 48 hours if you just shoved loads of berries in the freezer.
They should be little blue pucks of berry ball-bearings when they are completely frozen.
Using a spatula, or your fingers if you like cold fingers, scrape up the berries. If they were completely dry, and not mushy, and are now completely frozen, this should be easy-peasy.
Transfer berries to a freezer ziplock bag, label and date, and store. I put 3 or 4 cups of berries in a quart-sized bag.
Top Tip: You can also use this technique with blackberries, raspberries, or even strawberries.
You can deploy these berries straight from frozen into smoothies, muffins, cakes, breads, pancakes, sprinkled on yogurt or on ice cream, or eaten out of hand as cooling summer fruity frozen poppers.