Once you have collected your harvest of berries, you are faced with the chore of dealing with all that fruit. With a few bushes, you can probably eat most of your blueberries fresh or use them in your regular baking without much difficulty. But when you have several quarts of berries (or more) then you will need a way to store them for later use.
Blueberries are fairly sturdy fruit and there are many different ways you can store them. Some methods are more convenient than others, and some will take more effort. You may find that it works better to use more than one method, depending on how you plan on using your berries.
If you are just storing your berries for quick use, then you do not need to use any special techniques. They will stay fresh in the fridge for about 2 weeks if you keep them in a closed container . You should not wash them until you are going to use them, as the water will make them spoil faster.
Freezing is the most common way to store blueberries for the long term. The easiest approach is to freeze them whole, that way you can use them for nearly any purpose once they are thawed out. First spread out your berries on a cookie sheet or baking tray in the freezer, and let them freeze solid. Then pour them into a large ziplock bag. Push out as much air as you can before zipping it closed. If you have a vacuum sealing machine, that will work even better.
If you try to just pour the fresh berries straight into the bag for freezing, they will freeze together. By spreading them out first, they will stay separate and you can use just a few at a time out of the bag.
Once frozen, they should keep for 10 to 12 months without any loss of flavor or texture .
Canning, or sealing your pressure-treated fruit in jars, is another option which will take more work at the outset. But while frozen berries must be stored in the freezer and are at risk during a power outage, canned blueberries can be stored on any shelf with no additional concerns.
The basic principle is that you fill a canning jar with berries, and top it off with a sugar syrup. Screw on the lids, and heat the jars under high pressure (in a canner designed for this purpose). After the prescribed amount of time, the jars are removed and then cooled. The heat kills any bacteria and creates a vacuum seal within the jar.
If you are not familiar with canning, the complete procedure is a little in-depth to explain here. You can find a very good set of instructions with photos athttp://www.pickyourown.org/blueberries_canning.htm
For another option, you can also use a dehydrator to dry your berries. They will take about 12 to 20 hours but you need to open up the skins slightly before you start. A quick dip in boiling water will make them split open in one big batch. Spread them out on a dehydrator tray and dry until they are leathery. They don’t dry like a raisin though. The berries will be harder than that and not ideal for eating as a dried fruit. Simmer in water to reconstitute them for cooking or fruit sauces.