How to Freeze Blueberries (easy, simple steps to reduce food waste)

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Are you tired of tossing out spoiled blueberries? Well, if you follow these easy steps you’ll be able to freeze the blueberries before they go bad. We’ll answer how to freeze blueberries in 7 simple steps. (Five steps for some people…read on to see what I mean.)

This is an article in our series on food storage and how you can save money while reducing food waste at home.

how to freeze blueberries
How to Freeze Blueberries – simple steps to reduce food waste and save money

How to Freeze Blueberries – in 7 simple steps (or less)

You can easily freeze blueberries to use at a later date in smoothies, milkshakes, muffins, blueberry cobbler, crumbles, and lots more dishes.

The key is freezing your fresh blueberries before they spoil in your fridge.

You can get a great deal on buying pounds of blueberries during the blueberry season from your local farm or farmers market, but it’s a waste of money if you end up throwing them out.

And what’s great about freezing blueberries is that the steps are simple and you don’t need much equipment. You’ll just need a rimmed baking sheet, and perhaps a colander (keep reading to see what I mean by “perhaps”).

Plus, you’ll need adequate freezer space to set the baking sheet for a couple hours.

If you have lots of blueberries these steps will work for you as well, you’ll just need to repeat the process several times (unless you have a massive freezer).

Step 1: Select ripe blueberries to freeze

Choose ripe blueberries that aren't mushy to freeze
Choosing ripe blueberries & removing stems (Photo credit:

If you have a container of fresh blueberries in your fridge, and you want to freeze some before they go bad, first you’ll need to choose the ripe blueberries and set aside the soft, mushy berries.

You can use soft, mushy blueberries in some dishes but you’ll want to get rid of spoiled ones.

In the picture above I was selecting good ripe blueberries and removing stems if necessary.

Step 2: To Wash blueberries or not to wash?

You can choose to wash the blueberries before freezing, or you can wait to wash them until after they’re frozen and before eating.

The choice is up to you.

Some references say washing blueberries removes an outer coating called “bloom” that helps protect the blueberries from pests & bacteria, and keeps the juiciness in. And that you shouldn’t wash the blueberries before freezing them. Instead, you should just wash the frozen blueberries prior to eating them.

The Iowa State University Extension has an article that says washing blueberries before freezing causes them to have a tough outer coat.

But I personally do wash before freezing for two reasons.

  1. The first reason is that I primarily use the frozen blueberries in my smoothies where I blend them up anyway, so I don’t notice if they have a tough outer coat. (And it quickens the smoothie-making process when I can just pop them into my smoothie cup.)
  2. The second reason I wash my blueberries before I freeze them is that I’m not worried about pests on my berries because they’re frozen. So I don’t worry about removing this bloom layer.

Should you wash or not wash your blueberries prior to freezing?

I think this will depend on whether:

  1. You are going to consume the frozen blueberries while still frozen – such as in a smoothie – and therefore won’t care much about a tough, outer coat….or…
  2. You will thaw the blueberries and eat them raw or bake them (in which case you don’t want tough berries)

But the choice is up to you. I wash first.

I put mine into a colander and do a quick rinse under cold water in my kitchen sink prior to freezing.

You can wash blueberries before freezing, or you can freeze them unwashed and wash them prior to eating.
I choose to wash blueberries in a colander before freezing (Photo credit:

If you do wash them, follow step 3 below. If you don’t wash them before freezing you can skip ahead to step 4.

Step 3: Dry the blueberries

Make sure you dry the washed blueberries before freezing them so they don't stick to the baking sheet.
Blueberries drying on paper towel in a baking sheet (Photo credit:

After you’ve washed your blueberries it is important to let them dry.

It’s important to ensure they’re dry because wet blueberries can freeze to the cookie sheet during the initial freezing stage. Then you have to scrape the frozen berries off the sheet pan, and it is more of a hassle. Wet blueberries may also freeze together to form a big clump.

You can dry a small batch of blueberries by letting them drip dry in the colander, but what I prefer to do this lay some paper towels onto a rimmed baking sheet then put the berries onto the paper towels. (Like in the picture above.)

(You can also put the blueberries onto a clean dish towel but just remember that blueberries can stain…so don’t choose white towels or your favorite kitchen towel.)

Step 4: Place blueberries in a single layer on a baking sheet

put blueberries onto a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer
Fresh blueberries on a baking sheet in a single layer (Photo credit:

Once dry, place the blueberries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. (There is no need to use parchment paper or wax paper to line the baking sheet but you can if you prefer.)

Freezing the blueberries on a baking sheet – and not just tossed into a bag – ensures each blueberry freezes individually and not in clumps.

Plus, having the blueberries in a single layer helps them to freeze faster. More of the cold air will be able to circulate around the blueberries and freeze them faster.

And according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, you want to freeze foods rapidly to better preserve flavor and prevent large ice crystals from forming inside the food.

Step 5: Put them in the freezer for a couple of hours (flash freeze)

Put the blueberries on the baking sheet into the freezer for a couple hours.
Baking sheet of blueberries in a deep freeze

Place the baking sheet of blueberries onto a flat surface in the freezer.

References vary, but your blueberries should be frozen in about 2 hours or less.

The USDA says that about 2-inches of food should freeze in less than 2 hours.

So your little blueberries should be well frozen with a couple hours.

(I have forgotten them in the freezer on the baking sheet for over 24 hours and they were fine.)

Step 6: Take out of the freezer and transfer to a freezer bag

Frozen blueberries on the baking sheet are like hard, little marbles (Photo credit:

Remove the baking sheet of frozen blueberries and transfer the berries into a freezer-safe bag or another freezer-safe container. (Ideally it’ll be an airtight container.)

After the flash freeze step, the frozen blueberries will be like frozen, little marbles. They are easy to transfer to another container. I usually use a cooking spoon or ladle to pick them up.

put the frozen blueberries into a freezer bag
Transferring the frozen blueberries into a plastic bag

Try to remove as much air from the freezer bag or container as possible to reduce the risk of freezer burn. The Iowa State University Extension says, “Air is the enemy of frozen food.”

So push out/get out as much air as you can, then seal the package. A vacuum sealer would help at this step, but it isn’t required.

Step 7: Label then Put the freezer bag of blueberries back into the freezer

Label your blueberry container with the date your froze them.

Then place this whole bag of frozen blueberries back into the freezer.

How long can you freeze blueberries?

According to this Iowa State University Extension article you can safely freeze blueberries for an indefinite period of time, though their quality and flavor may suffer. This agrees with what the USDA says about freezer burn, and how freezer burn doesn’t make your foods inedible or unsafe, but it can affect flavor, texture and quality.

Most references say for the best flavor to eat frozen blueberries within one year of when you freeze them. The website says to eat within 10 months of freezing.

The South Dakota State University released a study where they examined how freezing affected the amounts of an antioxidant in blueberries called anthocyanins. They concluded that frozen blueberries maintain antioxidant levels for up to 66 days of being frozen.

But a different study said there wasn’t much change in antioxidant levels after 6 months of freezing.

So when it comes to safety, there doesn’t appear to be a strict time limit on when you need to eat your frozen blueberries by. But if you care about nutritional value, you may want to eat them sooner rather than later.

What to do with tons of blueberries – aka what can I do with ripe blueberries?

So you’ve got a lot of blueberries. What can you do with them? The ideas below will help.

Freeze Blueberries

Follow the above steps to freeze blueberries, but freezing blueberries before they spoil is just one thing you can do with fresh blueberries.

Below is a list of other things you can do with blueberries to help use them up and prevent food waste. Which of these tasty, great ideas do you like?

Make a Blueberry smoothie

This is my go-to for using up fresh blueberries and other berries before they spoil.

Bake Blueberry muffins

Another tasty way to use up fresh berries is to make blueberry muffins or blueberry mini muffins.

Make Blueberry pancakes

Tossing some blueberries into pancake batter and making some delicious pancakes is an easy way to use up some berries before they go bad.

Make a Blueberry compote

Use your fresh blueberries to create a blueberry compote and spread it over pancakes or French toast.

Bake a Blueberry Pie

If you love the taste of blueberry pie why not make one yourself.

Make a Blueberry Crumble

Do you love a good crumble?

To use up some blueberries before they go bad you could make a blueberry crumble.

Add Blueberries to your oatmeal, granola or yogurt

Juicy blueberries can be a great addition to breakfast foods like oatmeal and yogurt.

Bake some Blueberry banana bread

Adding some blueberries to your banana bread recipe is a tasty and excellent way to use up your berries.

Add blueberries to a fruit salsa

I haven’t tried this yet, but some people use blueberries to make a fruit salsa that they serve over grilled chicken or fish.

I hope this article on how to freeze blueberries will help you reduce food waste and prolong your food budget.

Related Articles:

How to Freeze Bananas for Smoothies (Another great way to reduce food waste.)

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