I know. This post is so late. It’s mid-September already, and I’m over here like, wait what? How did September arrive so quickly? And how can it be almost half-way done? Wasn’t it August a moment ago? What happened to summer?
In my defense, I will put the blame for not writing sooner on my family. I was the matron (because I’m married, apparently I can’t be a maid) of honor in my mother’s wedding. And then I helped plan my sister-in-law’s baby shower. Not to mention working full time in the busiest season of the year for my job. Which is environmental/garden education. So, no, I haven’t been busy at all over the last three months.
The sad part is, I’ve taken so many pictures with the intent to blog, but alas, time just slips away. Well today begins day one of the resurrection of the blog, and I’m starting it off with how we preserved blueberries back in mid-August with hopes that someone, somewhere might find this useful this year. The rest of you can bookmark it for next July/August blueberry season.
Blueberries are one Adam and my’s favorite fruits. We preserve them like crazy because we eat them like crazy. Smoothies every other week all winter long, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, you get the idea. We try very hard not to buy fruit in the winter as our goal is to eat as local as possible, so we need to preserve alot of blueberries.
This year, I think we have 20 lbs in our freezer. 10 for me and 10 for Adam-just kidding folks. 10 of those pounds did come from our CSA (we buy bulk fruit from them). The other 10 pounds we self-picked at a local blueberry farm.
It’s a great time, picking blueberries. If you’ve never harvested your own food, you really should. It’s a-maz-ing!
But onto preservation.
So 20 pounds of blueberries. Sounds overwhelming right?
NOPE. Freezing blueberries is just about the easiest way to preserve any kind of fruit. Seriously.
First, take the blueberries out of the bag. Sort out any squished, moldy, or otherwise not-nice-looking blueberries. The yucky ones can get composted. Otherwise, there is such a thing as a garbage can. I guess.
Then take your good blueberries and put them into a colander. Rinse them really good with running water. Note the change in colander. We use two at a time because it goes faster that way.
Aren’t they so pretty?!
Anyway, after you rinse them, let the berries sit a minute or two to drain off the excess water (this is the part where two colanders comes in handy).
Next, get out a couple of sheet pans (Adam wants you to know it’s not a full sheet pan, but you know what I mean). Lay a kitchen towel over the sheet pan and pour your blueberries onto it. Shift the pan back and forth until the berries are a single layer, and then gently place another towel over top. This is to soak up any excess moisture that didn’t drain off.
As we found out last year, this is a rather important step. Unless you like having your frozen fruit stuck together in one giant heap. Then, by all means, skip this step.
After you’re done with the towels, gently pull them both off and from under the berries. The result should look like this:
Your pan should have a snug amount of single layer blueberries, ready to go into the freezer. (Ignore the tomatoes, I’ll get to those next week). All you need to do is pop the tray(s) into the freezer on a flat surface and leave until all the berries are frozen. We usually leave ours overnight. Or a couple days if we forget.
After the berries are frozen, just shake them off into your freezer container of choice. Last year we used gallon size ziploc bags that worked great. As we’re moving away from plastic, we’ve mostly switched to pint and a half size mason jars as they are the largest size glass jar that can be put in a freezer.
It’s a very nice sized container, and it stacks pretty good. Not quite as well as plastic bags, but good enough for us.
All said and done, we processed our blueberries in less than an hour for each set of 10 pounds. Rinse, dry, freeze, contain. That’s it. I think it took longer for us to pick the berries than to freeze them.
Did I mention that it’s way cheaper to make your own freezer fruit? It is. So much tastier too. Not to mention the benefit of buying local produce and investing in a small farmer’s life. All the benefits add up just like berries in a jar.
Stay simple, stay local friends.