A few years ago, when my son started first grade and my husband had recently switched jobs so that his shift began at 6am, I found myself with many balls to juggle each morning. It was a challenge to get three kids and myself presentable to walk out the door for the trip to school, pack the requisite healthy lunch and snack, and make sure the boy had a good, hearty breakfast to help him have enough fuel for a long school day.
Until we remembered oatmeal, that is. We had always had oatmeal on hand, and the kids certainly enjoyed it, but once we started making it as a part of our school day morning routine, I could check “healthy breakfast” off my list. Why? The kids love it. And I know they’re getting both whole grains and a nice helping of fruit, in the form of frozen blueberries. Once they had blueberries in their oatmeal, they wanted them every. single. day. And I am happy to oblige.
However, the price of supermarket frozen blueberries – or off-season fresh ones – is enough to give one pause. So, in an effort to cut costs and still feed my family that go-to breakfast, every year I freeze buckets and buckets of blueberries from our local blueberry farm, which (bonus!) also happens to be organic. Two years ago, I froze 30 pounds, and when that stockpile ran out in February, I knew I had to step up my game the next summer. This past year, I froze 47 pounds of blueberries. So, now you’re thinking that either a) I’m crazy, or b) I have a walk-in freezer. (That would be the dream, wouldn’t it?) Okay, I’m a little crazy. But the process for freezing blueberries is so simple, it doesn’t really feel like a challenge. Follow along as I walk you through the freezing process!
Step 1: Pick the blueberries! A few extra pairs of helping hands doesn’t go amiss. Go early in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day, and be sure to pack hats, sunscreen, snacks, and water (very important!). Most locations pick during the month of July.
Step 2: Wash and pick over your blueberries. I get a large colander and dump a few cups of blueberries into it. I rinse them in cold water a few times. Then spread a few clean kitchen towels out on a big work surface and dump the drained blueberries onto them. Spread them out, and pick over them to remove any stems, withered berries, unripe berries, or smashed berries. Anything that’s not perfect can be tossed, or eaten immediately, if possible.
Step 3: Air dry the blueberries. Let them sit out on the towels for 30 minutes to an hour to dry.
Step 4 (optional): Dump the towel of dry blueberries onto a large baking sheet, shake to distribute them into a single layer, and place the sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes. This isn’t strictly necessary, but can help prevent blueberries from getting smashed before they get frozen. It also keeps them free-flowing, important for certain uses, like baking.
Step 5: Package the blueberries into labelled quart freezer bags. Seal the bags and freeze immediately. As they’re freezing, try not to lay them in stacks, or the berries underneath could become squished. I like to place mine upright until solidly frozen, 1-2 hours or so.
There you go! Frozen berries, all washed and prepared, ready to go for your morning oatmeal, or blueberry muffins, or whatever blueberry goodies your little heart desires! Enjoy!
My kids love everything blueberry – especially my son – so we pick a lot of blueberries each year. And the kids think it’s worth it – check out a few of the reasons why:
- rustic blueberry galette (Cooking for the Fam)
- blueberry-strawberry smoothies and smoothie pops (Cooking for the Fam)
- firecracker berry trifle (Cooking for the Fam)
- blueberry ice cream (Cooking for the Fam)
- blueberry muffins (Cooking for the Fam)
- mixed berry-lime fruit leather (Cooking for the Fam)
- blueberry-lime coffeecake with streusel topping (Cooking for the Fam post for Martin’s Supermarkets)
- lemon blueberry layer cake (Sally’s Baking Addiction)
- blueberry pancakes: add blueberries to pancakes after scooping batter onto the griddle
- blueberry syrup: for pouring on pancakes, waffles, or French toast, topping ice cream, or stirring into yogurt (Ball)
- blueberry freezer jam (Ball)
- blueberry pie
- blueberry pie milkshake: combine vanilla ice cream and a slice or two of leftover blueberry pie in a blender with a bit of milk
- blueberry pie ice cream: coarsely chop a slice or two of leftover blueberry pie and add it to homemade vanilla ice cream in the ice cream maker in the last five minutes of mixing time; freeze before serving
- blueberry coffee cake (Cooking Light)
- overnight blueberry French toast casserole (Sally’s Baking Addiction)
- blueberry-pecan scones (Cooking Light)
- blueberry scones (Sally’s Baking Addiction)
- blueberry crumb cake (Barefoot Contessa)
- blueberry crumb cake (Pioneer Woman)
- blueberry-cornmeal cake (Smitten Kitchen)
- blueberry buckle (my mom)
- blueberry cinnamon rolls (The Baker Chick)
- blueberry lemon sweet rolls (Pioneer Woman)
- blueberry sweet rolls with lemon glaze (Sally’s Baking Addiction)
- cinnamon rolls with dried blueberries (Pioneer Woman)
- blueberry oatmeal crumb bars (Magnolia Days)
For even more great ideas, check out our Pinterest board, Blueberry Bounty!