Summer is the peak season for the blueberry harvest in North America. If you’re thinking about heading out to pick some fresh blueberries for yourself, follow these basic guidelines for best (and tastiest) results, courtesy of PickYourOwn.org.
Choose plump, full blueberries with a light grayish-blue color. A berry with any hint of red isn’t fully ripened. White and green colored blueberries will not ripen after they’re picked. Blueberries that have already turned purple, red or blue-ish usually WILL ripen after they are picked (if they are kept at room temperature to ripen).
Since blueberries hang on the bushes in bunches a bit like grapes do, the easiest and fastest way to pick them is hold your bucket under them in one hand and, with your other hand, cup a ripe bunch and gently rub them with your fingers. The ripe berries will drop into your bucket, while the unripe ones will remain attached to the bush.
- Once picked, don’t confine the berries, still warm from the sun, in a closed bag or container. Leave the container open so moisture doesn’t form in the container.
- Don’t wash berries until just before using to prevent them from becoming mushy.
- Chill berries soon after picking to increase shelf life. If refrigerated, fresh-picked blueberries will keep 10 to 14 days.
- Freeze berries in freezer containers without washing to keep the skins from toughening. Place berries one layer deep. Freeze, then pour the frozen berries into freezer containers.
- Because unwashed blueberries freeze individually, they can be easily poured from containers in desired amounts. Remember both frozen and fresh berries should be rinsed and drained just before serving. Before using, wash the berries in cold water.