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Easily Freeze Fresh Blueberries So They Don’t Stick Together

Overhead view of a half-sheet baking pan. There are fresh blueberries lining the pan in a single layer. The pan is sitting on a maroon kitchen towel at an angle.
Okay little berries, it’s about to get very cold.

Every summer from early June through August, at least once a week, you’ll find me up early, berry basket in hand, heading to our local pick-your-own berry farm. (We’re lucky enough to have a great organic berry farm just down the road.)

I like to get all of my picking done before the heat of the day makes it unbearable.

I have this annoying habit of being a pasty-white person, so the mere mention of sun and I turn into a steamed lobster.

Strawberries, red and black currants, blackberries, gooseberries, and my personal favorite – blueberries all end up coming home with me. Some get made into jam right away, others go into a batch of mead, and still others I freeze so we can enjoy local berries all year long.

A man is picking blueberries with one hand and holding a paper quart basket full of blueberries with the other. It is a sunny day.
Berry picking always goes faster when you bring friends. Unless of course, those friends are your two young boys who are “bored” and want to know when it’s time to go.

Blueberries are the house favorite, so we end up picking around 20 quarts or more over the blueberry season. Smoothies, pancakes, muffins, scones and even blueberry syrup all taste a million times better in the middle of winter when you make them with your own or local berries.

Those frozen supermarket berries don’t compare, and the price for fresh berries in January is astronomical.

When you factor in the carbon cost of getting those tiny cartons of berries to your supermarket and the ecological costs of eating out of season, those flavorless berries aren’t worth it.

So, we put the work in now.

Of course, growing your own blueberries is an even cheaper option, plus you get to pick the variety. This season, I got to taste the Chandler variety of blueberries, and I’m hooked!

A blueberry bush covered with ripe and unripe berries in the morning sunshine. There is dew on the berries.
Future blueberry pancakes, right there.

To get buckets of blueberries year after year, I’ve put together this handy blueberry growing guide. It’s one thing to poke some bushes in the ground and hope for the best, and another thing altogether to know what to do to ensure a good yield. It’s a good read; you’ll want to check it out.

Once you have plenty of blueberries, it always helps to have some blueberry recipe inspiration when deciding what to do with them all.

Wherever you end up getting your blueberries, freezing them is an excellent way to ensure you can enjoy these tasty treats year-round.

Freezing blueberries is easy to do and requires no special equipment beyond a sheet pan. Many berries with higher water content or thinner skins don’t freeze all that well and end up a mushy mess even when frozen. Blueberries, on the other hand, freeze beautifully. Granted, they will still be soft when thawed.

Why Are My Berries Soft and Squishy When I Thaw Them?

When you freeze blueberries, the water inside them freezes into tiny ice crystals. These crystals penetrate the cell walls of the berries. That’s fine while the berries are frozen, but when they thaw, now the cells of the berry have lost their structural integrity, so the berry will be soft and slightly mushy.

Close up of a colander filled with thawed blueberries. Some have lost their skins, some are cracked open and mushy.
Delicious, even if they are a little soft.

When you use frozen blueberries for baking or things like pancakes, it’s best to add the blueberries while they’re still frozen. This will ensure whatever you’re making doesn’t end up being completely purple and will help the berries maintain their shape while they cook.

Of course, if you want to make a batch of blueberry basil mead, I highly suggest that you freeze your blueberries and thaw them first. Doing so helps release the juices, and those mushy berries make for better mead.

Okay, let’s freeze some blueberries.

Wash Your Berries

Close up of a bowl of fresh, ripe blueberries. They are all dark blue.
The slightly grayish film on blueberries is the yeast bloom. You don’t need to wash this off, it’s completely natural.

It’s important to rinse your berries before you freeze them. Washing them once they have thawed is nearly impossible as they will be quite soft. Berries growing closer to the ground tend to be dirty from rain splashing dirt and mud on them.

My hand in a sinkful of water and blueberries.
Give ’em a good, but gentle swish.

Rinse your berries well in cold water. I like to fill my sink with cold water and give them a good swish before scooping them out into a colander. Then I’ll give them another good rinse with my sink sprayer.

Dry Your Berries

This next step is probably the most important, as it’s what will ensure your berries won’t stick together once they’re frozen. You’ll need to make sure your berries are completely dry before freezing them, or they will stick together in a giant frozen mass.

To dry the berries, I put down a couple of kitchen towels on my counter or table and gently spread the berries out into a single layer. I try to make sure they have plenty of room and good airflow, so they all dry nicely.

Now, go do something else for an hour or so while they dry. It’s summertime; there’s always something that needs to be done, right?

Freeze Your Blueberries

Overhead shot of a sheet pan with a single layer of fresh blueberries.
Make sure everyone wears their hats and mittens!

Once the berries are completely dry, gently spread them out on a sheet pan. Be sure the blueberries are in a single layer. You can cram quite a few on there. Place the sheet pan in the freezer for two hours or until the berries are frozen solid.

The same sheet pan, only the berries are now frozen and frosty.

Package Your Blueberries

Working quickly, so they don’t begin to thaw or perspire, transfer the berries to their final container destined for the freezer. Since they aren’t stuck together in frozen clumps, you can store them in a plastic tub, a freezer bag, or my preferred method, a vacuum seal bag.

Close up of a food storage tub filled with frozen blueberries in the freezer.
Keeping your frozen blueberries in a tub makes it easy to grab them by the handful. This usually means you eat them faster, too.

A note about vacuum sealing

If your vacuum sealer has a gentle setting, you may wish to use that. Otherwise, the berries will be sealed quite tightly in the bag. This isn’t necessarily a problem while frozen, but it makes for extra mushy berries as they thaw. Give your berries room to breathe.

View of my small chest freezer with a row of neatly stacked vacuum-sealed bags of blueberries.
Hmmm, maybe we should pick a few more quarts. I doubt this will last us to November.

Here’s a link to the vacuum sealer I own; it’s affordable, a great sealer, and I love it so much I’ve bought several for family members as gifts.

And that’s that – easy frozen blueberries.

Now when you get a hankering for blueberries, you’ll easily be able to grab a handful for snacking, two cups for muffins, an entire bag for a pie, whatever you need without having to try and break off a chunk of icy blueberry mash.

I like to use these frozen blueberries as delicious edible ice cubes and will often grab a handful to plop in my switchel or lemonade.

Come January, you’ll truly appreciate the effort you put into picking, cleaning and freezing. Hmm, now I want blueberry pancakes.