Speaking of bumper crop, we’ve had the wonderful problem this year of having too many blueberries. In the few short months since we moved to Europe we’ve done more foraging in the forest than I’ve done in my entire life. We’ve picked teeny tiny wild strawberries (if only all strawberries tasted like those, oh man) and enormous mushrooms (my in-laws instruct on what is safe to pick), but blueberries have been particularly abundant.
We picked (and received from family) so many blueberries that we couldn’t eat them fast enough. So, I turned to an old and new favorite way of preserving them to extend blueberry season a bit longer: freezing and drying.
I love having berries in a big container in my freezer ready to be scooped out for oatmeal, smoothies and baking. How do you freeze them so they don’t end up in one big berry clump? It just takes a few extra steps:
- Rinse the berries and let them dry thoroughly. I lay mine on a dishcloth or two to get them really dry. Getting rid of excess water will keep them from sticking to each other.
- Lay the berries, in a single layer, on a baking sheet or plate. Don’t pack the berries in too tight, the less they touch the less chance they’ll all get stuck together.
- Freeze the berries for an hour or so before transferring them to an airtight container.
By laying the berries on a flat surface for freezing they don’t get stuck to one another. I have a large plastic container in my freezer that I can reach into and scoop out just the amount I need.
This was a new process to me, but I was really happy with the results. With our freezer full of berries I thought drying would be another good way to preserve the rest of our blueberries. My in-laws dry their berries in the sun and got a nicer, chewier result. We live in an apartment so I used our oven. This is a poor excuse for a recipe as I just followed the instructions in my oven’s manual, but here’s what I did:
- Check your oven’s manual. Mine instructed me to put the oven to 80 degrees C (45 degrees F) and use the convection setting. (If your oven doesn’t have a convection setting you’ll likely have to use a higher temperature, prop the oven door open to keep the air circulating and keep it going for longer. This site looks like it has some good instructions.)
- Wash and dry the berries and lay the berries on baking trays lined with parchment. (I used 2 baking trays and tried to space the berries evenly to, hopefully, reduce drying time.)
- Keep an eye on the berries (I checked them every hour) and use the instructions to give you a rough idea of the timeline. Mine said it should take about 3 hours, but it ended up taking 4 for my berries to dry.
These dried blueberries are super tasty in yogurt and on granola, a refreshing change to raisins or cranberries.