As summer winds down, we want to ensure we are able to preserve our bounty of berries as best we can. We chatted with Clara Moran from the BC Blueberry Council to get her top tips on freezing and eating our blubes. —Noa Nichol
Hi Clara! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
Hi all, my name is Clara Moran and I’m the marketing and PR manager at the BC Blueberry Council. We represent 600-plus blueberry growers in B.C. who ensure delicious, versatile highbush blueberries make it to your table 365 days a year—fresh in the summer months, and frozen all year round.
As summer winds down, we’re looking for ways to preserve our blueberry bounty. Before we get into the hows of it, are frozen blueberries any different than fresh in terms of nutritional content/benefits?
Frozen B.C. blueberries are equal in quality to fresh blueberries, but research shows they might have a slight edge in terms of antioxidant content. In other words, research shows that frozen blueberries might have the edge over fresh berries when it comes to health. Studies conducted at South Dakota State University show that freezing blueberries makes their powerful antioxidants more available to the human body. This is because anthocyanins, the antioxidant compounds that make blueberries blue, are found in the skin of the berry. Freezing the berries creates tiny ice crystals that disrupt the structure of the cells, which in turn makes it easier for our system to access the anthocyanins contained within the skin.
What are your top tips on freezing fresh blueberries? How do you prepare blueberries for the freezer? Should blueberries be washed before frozen?
To freeze your blueberries, make sure they’re dry and keep them in their original plastic clamshell, or put them in re-sealable plastic bags or containers. They don’t need to be washed before freezing, but remember to rinse them off before eating them or using them in recipes.
How long do frozen blueberries last in the freezer/when should we use them? What is the best way to use/eat frozen blueberries?
It’s recommended to use frozen blueberries within one year of purchase. Use up your frozen blueberries in the filling for a pie, reduced as a sauce or to give an icy boost to your smoothies!
Can we snack on frozen blueberries straight from the freezer? Do frozen blueberries need to be thawed before baking?
Make sure to give your frozen berries a quick rinse before eating them straight from the freezer. And if you’re using frozen blueberries in baking, toss them into a bowl of cold water—they’ll be ready to use within five minutes!
What’s your favourite way to enjoy frozen blueberries?
I love sprinkling frozen blueberries on top of vanilla yogurt with granola! They give a nice satisfying crunch!