Fruit

It's Blueberry Season, Baby! Here's How to Store Them.

This berry is the queen of breakfast (and makes a royal addition to desserts, too).

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March 23, 2022
Photo by Food52

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.

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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 muffinspancakes, 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.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Elizabeth
    Elizabeth
  • hgail
    hgail
  • grasspress
    grasspress
  • Practically Eating
    Practically Eating
  • Elizabeth
    Elizabeth
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.

9 Comments

Elizabeth September 13, 2016
I am a Polish orgin. The blueberries are very poular fruit in our kitchen. Like pierogies with blueberries, blueberry soup, jello with blueberries, or just mixed with plain yogurt.
 
hgail August 17, 2014
Growing up in South Jersey we lived near a blueberry farm that grew several varieties that ripened sequentially throughout summer. Our favorite way to eat them was to fold back a cuff of the two liter poly bag & take a handful on our way through the kitchen or dump them into a juice glass for a slightly more polite way of eating them. They rarely ever made it into baked goods. But, 'grasspress' makes a good point for a way to enjoy them on oatmeal all year long. Frozen blueberries would be a lot like our favorite summer snack: frozen raisins for a cold sweet treat on a hot summer day.
sjrsygrl
 
grasspress August 4, 2014
hint for blueberry eaters who buy in bulk when the berry is in season. i have been doing this for many years: store berries in ziplocs straight from the store and freeze. when ready for some grab a handful, place in colander and run cold water over them to wash. let them sit a bit if you need them thawed, but if adding to a hot cereal stir in right away and the cold berries will bring your hot cereal down to an eatable temperature.
 
Practically E. July 6, 2014
1: Great way to solve the spoilage problem is to freeze them. Kids love them because they are like little candies and when you put a bunch of them on cereal and then pour milk on them the milk freezes on the blueberries.
2: There are far more than 3 kinds of blueberries. We planted a few different varieties in the garden (they are annuals so you plant them and then sit back and watch while they give you a new crop or two per year) and we have one variety (can't remember the name) that produces fruit that is not only huge (by blueberry standards) but reddish purple when they are ripe with snow white flesh.
 
karmaya July 6, 2014
assume by "annuals" you meant they are shrubs which flower and fruit once a year. they are not what gardeners call annuals (pansies, marigolds, petunias, et al) and yes to get good pollination and fruit, plant different varieties together.
 
Practically E. July 6, 2014
Exactly. And that is why at our house we refer to them as "replanters" and "permanents". Because I can't keep those two terms straight. It's like the word semiannual which can mean both once every two years and twice per year. Or inflammable which seems like it should mean "not able to catch fire" but which actually means the same thing as flammable. Stupid language ;)
 
Elizabeth July 5, 2014
We live in eastern Canada where wild low bush blueberries are abundant. However, much much better for the plant if they are hand picked, not raked. I understand, although dislike, the use of rakes commercially, but they are certainly not required for personal use. This is a very easy berry to pick by hand, as it comes off the bush cleanly.
 
Pegeen July 5, 2014
I love learning about tools. The Amazon page describes the metal rake, though, as being for high bush blueberries rather than low bush. Thanks for a handy column!
 
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Lindsay-Jean H. July 5, 2014
The link has been switched to a better visual!