It has been hot, hot, hot here at our homestead this week, and I haven’t made the temperature situation much easier on myself.
Why? Well, because I’ve been one busy little bee canning away. We have a gorgeous blueberry patch and it has been coming in full force.
As a matter of fact, I’m probably going to be picking again tomorrow.
So if you have a booming blueberry patch, or even if you have recently found a great sale on some blueberries, you may be wondering what in the world you are going to do with all of them.
Well, worry no more because I have 8 ways that you can preserve those blueberries so they can be utilized all year long.
Here are Ways to Preserve Your Blueberry Harvest:
1. Freeze Them Clean
When I’m in a hurry, freezing is usually my first option. I actually used this method a lot over the past few weeks.
So you’ll complete this method by washing your blueberries. Depending upon how large your harvest is, you may or may not want to use a colander. My blueberry hauls have been so large that I put my strainer in the sink, fill it full of cold water, and then toss a few gallons of blueberries in the sink.
Then I roll them over and over to get all of the dirt and bugs off of them. When I think they may be clean, I put them into the other side of the sink and repeat the process until eventually, the water comes out clear.
But if you have a smaller batch of blueberries, then washing them in a colander will do the same thing.
Once you have clean blueberries, then you’ll need to spread them out on a cookie sheet. You’ll then place them in the freezer to flash freeze. Once they are frozen individually, you can toss them in freezer bags to store for a few months.
2. Freeze Them Dirty
My mom and I live about 400 miles apart. Though we don’t see each other every day, I try my best to call her every day.
Well, we were talking one day when I was preserving all of our blueberries, and she was telling me how she had spoken to one of her friends, and they told her how I could freeze my blueberries as is. Meaning, I didn’t have to go through the cleaning process.
I thought this would be a good method of preserving them if you are in a real rush, or if you don’t mind having to clean up your blueberries when you go to use them. It certainly seems faster.
So you’ll begin this process by picking the blueberries. Once you have them picked and in your kitchen, then you’ll skip the washing process. This is actually the longest part of the process when freezing so if you are in a hurry to throw them in a bag and move onto something else, then you’ll appreciate this method.
Then you’ll throw them on a cookie sheet to flash freeze them. If you aren’t picky about your blueberries sticking together, then you could actually skip this step too. The whole point of this process is to make it to where you can pull out frozen blueberries as needed. If you plan on using them a pack at a time, then just toss them into a freezer bag and move on.
But if you need your blueberries separated, then flash freeze them. Then you put them in a freezer bag and place them in your freezer to be stored for future use.
3. Blueberry Syrup
We have some good friends that come over to pick our blueberries from time to time. They do this because they love blueberry syrup.
So every time they get blueberries, they immediately turn it into a delicious syrup. You can make it very easily, then you can use it immediately or can it for later.
You’ll begin by washing your blueberries. Again, depending upon the quantity of blueberries, you can either rinse them in a colander, or you can wash them in bulk in your kitchen sink. It is up to you.
Then you’ll want to place the blueberries in a large pot. You’ll need to add about 7.5 cups of sugar per quart of blueberries.
Next, you’ll cook this mixture down until it is thick. I personally like chunks in my blueberry syrup because it tastes delicious when heated and poured over French toast or pancakes.
But if you like a smoother syrup, then you can run it through a food mill and then cook it down some more.
Once your syrup has reached the consistency you like, then add some lemon juice to the mixture to keep it from turning colors, and you are ready to roll. When I cook I don’t always measure like I should, so if you’d prefer a more in depth recipe, here is a great one to try out.
4. Blueberry Vinegar
If you love to cook with vinegar or make your own homemade salad dressings, then you’ll probably love this recipe for blueberry infused vinegar. It seems rather simple to make and also a great way to put that blueberry harvest to work for you.
So you begin by gathering a few ingredients. For every 1 pint of blueberries, you’ll need 2 tablespoons of sugar. Be sure to figure as closely as you can as to how many blueberries you’ve actually harvested.
Then you’ll also need an orange peel. Try to keep this in larger pieces so when you have to strain the vinegar away from the ingredients, it will make this process easier.
To begin, you’ll want to place your cleaned blueberries in a large saucepot. The size of the pot may vary depending upon how many blueberries you have.
Also, remember when washing your blueberries, you can spray them with your faucet while they rest in a colander, or you can wash them in large quantities in your sink by submerging them in cold water in your sink.
Once you have your blueberries cleaned and in a saucepot, it is time to begin to crush them. The easiest way to do this is to take a fork and gently press down on the berries.
However, if you are like us, and harvesting blueberries at around 10 gallons at a time, then you may need to pull out your trusty potato masher to get the job done. It all depends upon how many blueberries you are working with.
Now that your berries are adequately crushed, you’ll want to add enough apple cider vinegar to the blueberries to where they are covered. You’ll also need to add the right amount of sugar for the number of blueberries you are working with. Remember, it is 2 tablespoons of sugar for every 1 pint of blueberries.
Then bring the mixture to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn it down to simmer and allow it to do so for about 3-4 minutes. When it is finished simmering, it will be time to place the mixture in mason jars.
However, do not use a typical metal lid. This can cause a negative reaction to the vinegar. You’ll probably just want to cover it with plastic wrap or a cheese cloth. Then place a canning ring over that to hold it all in place.
Once the mixture has cooled in the jars, place it in the fridge for a week. You’ll finish the process up by straining the mixture. This will separate the vinegar from the ingredients that went into making it. You can store it in these vinegar jars.
Then be sure to keep it in a cool, dark storage location so that your vinegar will last for around a year. What a fantastic way to preserve blueberries, and it requires very few resources to be able to do it.
5. Dehydrate Your Berries
I love the option of dehydrating blueberries because it requires very little to do it. You’ll just need a dehydrator.
Then you’ll wash your blueberries and place them on the appropriate dehydrating trays. If you have purchased a dehydrator, follow the instructions to know the appropriate time limits for blueberries.
But if you make your own dehydrator, then I recommend just checking the fruit every so often until you are satisfied with the way it looks, feels, and tastes.
6. Blueberry Jam
I love jam! That is actually probably an understatement, but I can’t help but think how amazing it is. I love the flavor, the texture, and the sweetness of it.
So when I began getting large amounts of blueberries, one of the first things I did was make jam with it. I followed this recipe to make my jam.
But I did make one small change. I’m someone that has to watch my sugar intake so I switched my jam to sugar-free. Instead of using regular sugar, I used a sugar substitute.
Now, a word of caution. I’ve learned to not use the same amount of sugar substitute as you do sugar. In my opinion, it will have this funky after taste. So use sparingly.
Other than that, my jam has turned out delicious. Then you can preserve your jam in a water bath. You just fill the canner with your jars.
Then place water all the way over the top of the jars. Bring the water to a boil and time for 5 minutes.
Next, remove the jars from the canner and allow them to sit for 24 hours to cool and ensure that all of the jars sealed. Once you know they have sealed, you can label them and store them on a shelf until you are ready to use them.
7. Can Your Blueberries Whole
If you like to keep your blueberries around in a whole form so you can turn them into blueberry pie filling later on when you have more time, then you’ll like this option.
Basically, you place your cleaned blueberries in cleaned and sanitized mason jars. Then create a simple syrup (which is equal parts sugar and water that has been heated) so you can pour it over the top of the blueberries.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll place sanitized rings and lids on the jars. Then you’ll process them in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes (pints) and 20 minutes (quarts.) Remember to adjust your times according to your elevation.
8. Freeze Drying Your Blueberries
Now, I’m going to be truthful. I included this because a friend of ours is in love with the idea of freeze-drying food. They think it is more efficient and works well.
However, I think it is a rather expensive way to preserve food. So if you like to freeze dry food, and you already have the equipment to do so, then great.
But I wouldn’t run out and invest in it to experiment with. But it is your call.
So there are the 8 ways that you can preserve your blueberry harvest this summer. I hope that this will help you to put away food for the winter and not waste a single one of those berries.
But I’d like to hear from you. How do you preserve your blueberries? What is the best method in your opinion?
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