Is learning how to preserve blueberries something you’ve always wanted to try?
Maybe having a freezer full of homegrown blueberries is one of your homesteading goals this year?
If that’s the case, I’d like to help you reach that goal.
My mom has 6 or 8 blueberry bushes that keep the whole family stocked in blueberries all year.
We use them in muffins, pancakes, smoothies, etc. But my kids also love to eat them straight out of the freezer!
Fruit is one of the best crops you can grow and preserve if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck.
It’s easy to grow at home, but really expensive to buy at the store.
Find preservation methods below to help you use up blueberries from your own bushes or ones you picked at a farm or farm stand. (Learn freezing tips for other fruits and veggies too.)
13 Ways to Preserve Blueberries
Discover all of the ins and outs of how to preserve blueberries with these 13 versatile methods.
Even if you already know how to freeze and dehydrate blueberries, I hope you’ll find a new, inspiring idea or two to try!
Let’s start with freezing blueberries since that is the simplest method for preserving a majority of fruits and vegetables.
If you know your blueberries weren’t grown with pesticides, you don’t need to wash them first.
Blueberries have a natural coating that deters pests and prevents bacteria build-up—and it’s also naturally non-stick!
If you prefer to pre-wash the blueberries, you’ll just need to dry them really well to prevent them from clumping together while in the freezer.
The rest is pretty simple. Lay the blueberries out on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and place them in the freezer for roughly two hours.
Once they are frozen, store them in a plastic bag or air-tight container in the freezer for six months to a year.
When you want to add blueberries to some oatmeal or a smoothie, you’ll be able to reach into your freezer and easily grab the perfect amount!
This is the method I use most often. Frozen blueberries can almost always be used in other preservation recipes.
So, it makes sense to simply freeze them if I’m not sure exactly what I want to do with them.
Dehydrating fruits and vegetables is another popular homesteading skill to learn. The great thing about dried fruit is that it’s a perfect grab-and-go snack that doesn’t require refrigeration.
You can dehydrate blueberries using a dehydrator, your oven, or sun-drying methods (if you live in an ideal climate for this).
I prefer to use a dehydrator as it produces the most consistent results and doesn’t heat up my kitchen in the summer like the oven.
To get started, rinse the blueberries in cool water and pat dry. Spread the blueberries out in a single layer on your dehydrator trays.
Place the trays in the dehydrator and set the temperature to 115 degrees.
The time it takes for blueberries to dry greatly depends on their size. It typically takes 9-15 hours for them to dry completely.
Once they resemble raisins, they are ready for storage. You can store dried fruit in glass jars (don’t forget to label and date!) with air-tight lids for 6-12 months.
I like this method for shelf-stable preservation when the freezers are full or I just don’t want to rely on electricity to keep everything safe.
Canning Whole Blueberries
If you’re looking to save freezer space, canning whole blueberries is an excellent food preservation option, allowing you to enjoy fresh blueberries well into the winter!
There are many canning methods available, but I prefer water bath canning. (For alternative canning methods, check out this resource from the USDA.)
Canning is very much like a science experiment. Here’s what you should know:
- You’ll need canning jars, lids, and a large pot or steam canner.
- Roughly one pound of blueberries yields one quart-sized jar of canned blueberries.
- Blanch the blueberries and place them evenly in jars leaving two centimeters of space at the top.
- Divide blanching liquid between the jars, again leaving two centimeters of space.
- Wipe the jar rims and secure the lids.
- Set filled jars in a water bath or steam canner for 15 minutes.
- After carefully removing the jars, let them sit on a wire rack or towel for 12-24 hours.
- Label, date, and store your freshly canned blueberries in a cool dark place in the pantry for 1-2 years.
Once you begin, you’ll be wishing you had learned to can sooner. But it can be a bit intimidating at first.
For more in-depth instruction and support, check out my Food Preservation Basics for Beginners course.
Freeze Drying Blueberries
Freeze drying fruit at home sounds like a complicated process, but it’s actually a pretty simple, affordable, and effective method for preserving blueberries.
All you need to do is place blueberries on a rimmed cookie sheet in a single layer and place the tray in a freezer (a deep freeze works best) for 2-3 weeks.
The blueberries will freeze solid in the first couple of hours. But it’s the extended period of time sitting uncovered in your freezer that allows them to dry out.
After 2-3 weeks, take a few blueberries out at a time and allow them to come to room temperature.
If they turn dark or black, they aren’t ready yet. But if their color remains unchanged after warming, they are fully preserved.
Store freeze-dried blueberries in plastic bags or air-tight containers in a cool, dark space in your pantry. Add them to cereal, pancakes, smoothies, yogurt, or enjoy them as is!
Make Blueberry Preserves
Stock your pantry shelf with blueberry preserves to be enjoyed on toast and pancakes throughout the fall and winter. Jars of homemade preserves make lovely gifts, too!
A basic recipe calls for only a few ingredients. Mix the ingredients together and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
I like to leave some of the fruit whole and crush some for a more diverse texture.
Divide the mixture up into jars and finish by using the water bath canning method to seal jars of blueberry preserves for shelf storage, or you can simply freeze them.
Your homemade blueberry preserves will be edible for a year or longer.
Make Blueberry Syrup
You can also make blueberry syrup and either freeze it or can it for long-term storage. Homemade syrups can be made with whole pieces of fruit and fruit juice or just the juice.
And the only other ingredient needed is honey and tapioca starch. You’ll extract juice from blueberries by crushing, heating, and straining the berries.
Then add the liquid to a saucepan with the honey and simmer for three minutes. Divide the syrup into glass jars and can or freeze them.
Make Blueberry Sauce
Blueberry sauce goes perfectly with cheesecake, ice cream, and many other desserts.
And the process is sort of like combining the preserves and syrup recipes.
You’ll need blueberries, water, apple juice, and arrowroot starch for thickening. Mix the lemon juice and cornstarch together to form a paste.
Once the mashed blueberries and juice have come to a boil, add the paste and stir well for five to ten minutes.
Divide the sauce up and can them using the water bath method.
These jars of blueberry sauce will keep for up to a year in a cool, dark place in your pantry.
Make Blueberry Pie Filling
Another dessert-inspired option for preserving blueberries is to make pie filling. This recipe is a healthy version of a blueberry pie.
Simply cook the filling ingredients for 10 minutes over medium heat and it’s ready to preserve.
Divide the blueberry pie filling among canning jars and place them in your water-bath canner.
Add a bit of blueberry pie filling to oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream, biscuits, and more!
Make Blueberry Infused Honey
Infusing honey is an excellent option for preserving herbs and fruit because it contains very little water, which keeps bacteria and fungi at bay.
Making blueberry-infused honey is easy, too!
- Place a two-to-one ratio of honey to dried blueberries in a mason jar.
- Secure the jar with an airtight lid and place it in a warm spot (windowsills work great!) for a week, flipping over once a day at least.
- After a week, you can strain out the blueberries if you’d like.
Add blueberry-flavored honey to tea, coffee, desserts, salad dressing, or use in place of syrup on pancakes and waffles—the possibilities are endless!
Make Pickled Blueberries
When you think of preserving blueberries, pickling probably didn’t immediately come to mind.
But blueberries make excellent additions to savory meals, too. And pickling them is one way to have blueberries on hand for this purpose.
Simply mix everything except the berries and onion together.
Pour the mixture over the blueberries and onions in mason jars, secure the lids, and let them sit overnight before canning them the following day.
Make Blueberry Vinegar
If you’d like to make your own salad dressing or sauces, preserving blueberries in vinegar is an excellent idea!
Crush the blueberries and bring all three ingredients to a light boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, let the mixture cool before pouring into mason jars.
After 48 hours of refrigeration, strain the blueberries from the vinegar and either store it in your refrigerator for up to three months or can it using the water-bath method.
Make Blueberry Fruit Leather
Fruit leathers are like homemade Fruit Roll-Ups, without the long list of hard-to-read ingredients and dyes. They are an excellent kid-friendly treat to have on hand.
Simply mix ingredients in a blender until pureed. Strain out seeds if desired and pour the mixture onto a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
Bake in the oven (or use a dehydrator) until no longer sticky and then allow to cool before slicing.
Fruit leathers won’t last on the shelf for years, like many of these other preservation methods.
But if you store them in an airtight container in your pantry, they will last up to a month—which is more than enough time for my kids to gobble them up before they expire!
If you’ve been on this homesteading journey for a while, you likely know about the many health benefits of fermented foods.
Fermenting is a process where good bacteria break down the sugars in food and leaves you with a nutrient-rich product full of probiotics and vitamins.
An additional benefit of fermenting is that it preserves food, too.
If you are brand new to food preservation, I’d suggest learning how to preserve blueberries using the canning, freezing, and dehydrating methods.
There’s so much room for creativity and flavor, but getting the basics down first is a must!
Food Preservation as a Way of Life
Preserving fresh fruits and vegetables is a necessity if you want to grow enough in the garden to last the winter.
I’m always looking for easy ways to make my homegrown produce last longer.
Plus, it’s such an empowering feeling to know where and how our food was grown and processed!
Preserving blueberries is a great place to begin adding a little more self-sufficiency to your life.
How are you planning to learn how to preserve blueberries?