Don’t judge me for getting excited about blueberries. I know they're generally available in the supermarket year-round, but don’t you dare judge me for being extra-excited come late spring, early summer. Because that’s when fresh blueberries are at their best. You can drive up to any roadside farm stand or scour local farmers markets and easily stock up on pints of the brightest, plumpest, and absolute sweetest blueberries. (Though, in my opinion, in addition to farmers markets, blueberries deserve to be displayed at a precious gems and minerals showcase.)
Regardless of where you buy them, once you bring them home, these petite berries need to be handled with care. And because I care about you and your fruit, here’s how to pick and store fresh blueberries.
Types of Blueberries
Most of the blueberries you'll see at the store are highbush blueberries. And yes, they do grow on high bushes (around 6 feet or more). But they're only one of the three main types of blueberry plants.
The second are lowbush blueberries, which, in the U.S., are found in the Northeast. These berries are smaller, but they pack a bigger flavor punch. They grow low to the ground and look more like creeping groundcover than bushes. In fact, when harvested by hand, a special metal rake can be used to scoop them up.
The third type, rabbiteye blueberries, can be found primarily in southeastern states, growing on enormous rabbit-shaped bushes. No, not really. These blueberries aren't named for the appearance of the plant, but rather for the berry itself. Before the berries are fully ripe, their blossom end resembles a rabbit’s eye.
How to Select and Store Blueberries
For starters, look for the bluest blueberries you can get your hands on. If you pick up a paper punnet with a purple-splotched stained bottom, however, select a different one—those berries are likely too ripe. Of course, if the blueberries are already growing mold, you should obviously pass on the clamshell altogether.
Generally speaking, blueberries should be stored in the refrigerator and used pretty quickly. But if you don't plan on using them right away and want to keep your berries fresh for longer, wash them in a diluted vinegar bath before you store them. You can also opt to for specially designed produce sheets to line the container in which you store your bleubs. Doing either (or both!) of these things will help to prevent mold from forming prematurely on the berries and extend their shelf life.
Blueberries also freeze really well, and you’ll thank yourself for your forethought when you’re enjoying a taste of summer many months from now. To freeze blueberries, spread them out in a single layer on a lined baking sheet or plate; stick the tray in the freezer for about two hours, or until the berries are completely frozen. Then, transfer the berries to a freezer-safe, airtight bag or storage container and keep this in the freezer for three to six months; after that, frozen blueberries are at risk of developing freezer burn and will lose their flavor and color. If you’ll be using your frozen blueberries in baked goods, give them a quick toss in a little flour before adding them to your batter to prevent color bleeding and to keep them suspended in the muffin batter as it bakes (versus completely sinking to the bottom).
We like to eat blueberries all day long, but for some reason they seem especially well-suited for enjoying at sunup and sundown. Here are some of our favorite ways to eat blueberries during the summer
Blueberries for Breakfast
Sprinkle bowls of cereal or oatmeal with a smattering of blueberries. Turn blueberries into jam for toast or sauce for crêpes. Blueberries always make a welcome addition to muffins, pancakes, and waffles. Or try something new, and start your day with breakfast polenta, chia seed pudding, or a smoothie loaded with fresh plump blueberries.
Blueberry Dessert Recipes
Aside from breakfast, blueberries want to be in your baked goods—all of your baked goods. In a pandowdy or a schlumpf, a cobbler or a galette, the name hardly matters when it's bursting with fresh berries. Try blueberries in ice cream or paired with burrata, and end the day with a blueberry-infused beverage.
We can’t wait to hear about your favorite ways to eat blueberries. Tell us in the comments!
This article was updated by our editors in March 2022 with even more tips and tricks for storing blueberries.