How to propagate blueberries by putting bracelets on top of each other

Picking blueberries / blueberries: harvest time, storage & use

Blueberries are so delicious that you want to enjoy them all year round. Find out how to properly harvest, store and dry blueberries here.

You may still remember the blue fingers and mouths when picking juicy blueberries (Vaccinium) in sparse forests? Compared to the fruits of the wild blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) have newer breeds of cultivated blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) a light-colored pulp and therefore no longer color quite as strongly. The harvest of cultivars is also far more productive due to the larger fruits. If you want to pick the sweet blueberries yourself, you should definitely grow them in your own garden. We explain to you the best way to go about picking the blueberries and which methods of preservation have proven themselves.

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Picking blueberries / blueberries: when are they ripe?

Ripe blueberries can be recognized by the dark blue stem base. The fruit development of the blueberry takes about 70 to 100 days, depending on the variety. Because of the sequential ripeness of the fruits, they have to be picked several times within a few weeks. The first harvest usually brings the largest berries. Those who plant early and late varieties can even extend the blueberry season. This means that you can harvest fresh blueberries from the beginning of July to September. Depending on the variety and stage of development of the plants, a total harvest of around 4 to 5 kg of berries per bush is possible.

Harvest blueberries correctly

Blueberries should be harvested when they are fully ripe, because only then do they develop their full aroma. Ripe fruits should be easy to detach from the stem. Unroll the individual berries from the grape with your thumb and catch them in your open hand. You can then collect the berries in a bowl. These are very sensitive to pressure, so it is best to divide your harvest into several collecting vessels so that they are not squashed too much.

Tip: The juice of wild blueberries has a particularly strong color. The black color on lips and teeth can be removed very easily with lemon juice.

Preserving and storing blueberries / blueberries

Blueberries will only last about a week in the refrigerator. It is best to put the freshly harvested blueberries in a sealable container and only wash them immediately before consumption. In addition, you should definitely sort out berries with bruises and mold to avoid spoilage of the other fruits. Because of the thicker skin, cultivated blueberries from the garden keep a little longer than wild forest blueberries. However, if you want to have some of your harvest in the long term, you should consider how you can preserve the healthy blueberries. In addition to juice production, drying and freezing in particular to preserve blueberries have proven their worth.

Drying blueberries

Basically, you can spread the blueberries to dry them in the air, as long as it is sufficiently warm and there is enough air exchange. However, drying takes place particularly quickly and effectively in the automatic dehydrator or in the oven. You can dry fully ripe fruits in the oven at 50 ° C. At higher temperatures, the berries would dry faster, but many vitamins were also lost. Also, make sure the moisture can escape by wedging a wooden spoon in the oven door. The drying process can take a few hours to several days, depending on the method. The best way to store the completely dried blueberries is in airtight jars.

Freeze blueberries

Freezing blueberries should be done as soon as possible after harvesting. If this is not possible, the berries can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, but they should still be firm for freezing. Wash the fresh berries briefly, drain them well and dry them on a paper towel. In order to be able to portion the blueberries better later, it is advisable to pre-freeze the berries. To do this, they are spread out on a baking sheet or plate and placed in the freezer for a few hours so that they don't stick together. In order to keep them as space-saving as possible, you should later transfer the frozen blueberries into freezer bags or plastic containers. When frozen, blueberries can be kept for up to a year and can therefore be processed gradually.

Blueberries: Use in the kitchen

It is not for nothing that blueberries are called a local “superfood”. The healthy blueberries are rich in vitamin C, iron, calcium and potassium. They also contain antioxidant polyphenols and digestive fiber. In addition to being enjoyed fresh, the fresh berries can be used in dairy products (milk, yogurt, quark) to make shakes and desserts.

Dried blueberries can be added to muesli or tea mix for breakfast. You can use fresh, but also frozen blueberries to make compote or juice. In combination with other fruits - such as strawberries (Fragaria) - you can also make sweet jams. In contrast to the raspberry (Rubus idaeus) or blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) the blueberry also only has very small kernels, which are often perceived as less annoying when chewing. It is therefore not necessary to core the fruit before processing.

Friends of sweet dessert cuisine can bake delicious blueberry cakes (small pancakes), cakes or pies from the blue fruits. The American blueberry muffins, which are also offered in many coffee shops, are particularly popular. If you prefer something a little stronger, you can of course also use the blueberries to make fruit wine, liqueur or brandy.

If you want to grow and harvest a few special types of blueberry, you should take a look at our specialty variety article.

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Sabine

I am currently studying agricultural and food economics at BOKU in Vienna. Gardening is a lot of fun for me and it certainly takes up most of my free time. A few years ago, my interest in herbs was aroused, which is why I completed my training as a certified herbalist in 2018.
Favorite fruits: apples, cherries
Favorite vegetables: potatoes, fennel