|Every other day I pick a bucketful of blueberries.|
My month for blueberry picking is July, although last year I started in the middle of June. This year they weren't ready until after July 1st, I believe, because we've had so little sun. Blueberries love to ripen in the sun. Even so, they have been beautifully plump and sweet because of all the rain. This is an amazing contrast to my first year, when we were at the tail end of a drought. That year they were small, hard, and tart.
|Blueberries in the food dehydrator|
We've been eating tons of them fresh and in pies, pancakes, and muffins. I've also given quite a few away. The rest I've been preserving. I'm dehydrating them for the goats this winter, for part of their homegrown vitamin and mineral top dressing. In our humidity, they must be dried rock hard or they will get moldy. I experimented with this awhile back, to learn how much they needed to be dried.
I don't find reconstituted blueberries as flavorful as frozen, so for us, I freeze quite a bit.
|I freeze blueberries on a cookie sheet, then transfer to freezer bags once frozen|
I use them in pancakes, muffins, and pies, although in the past I've canned my own blueberry pie filling. I usually freeze more than we need, and use the surplus to make blueberry jam the following summer.
For the canned blueberry pie filling I bought a five pound bag of Clear Jel. Since then, the company that used to make ClearJel (National Starch) has been bought out. The website has changed and their non-GMO statement is gone. Consequently I won't buy more once I use up what I have. Then I read about freezing pies, and thought I'd try it.
|Fresh blueberry pies ready for their top crusts. Then it's into the freezer.|
I researched this and picked up a few tidbits to share:
- Increase the flour in the filling by 1 tablespoon per pie
- Do not cut steam vents in the crust before freezing
- Place individual pies on a baking sheet to freeze before wrapping to prevent the wrap from sticking to the crust.
- Once frozen solid, they can be wrapped and stacked.
- They can be removed from the pie tins once frozen, if needed.
- Can reuse aluminum pie crust pans, or pick up pie pans cheaply at any thrift store.
- Double wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil
- Optional - cover pies with paper plates before wrapping
- Label each with filling type and baking instructions
- Do not thaw to bake, but plan to add an additional 20 minutes or so to the baking time.
I placed my frozen, wrapped pies in a large brown paper bag. Dan heard on the radio that this helps prevent freezer burn. We've found that it certainly helps.
To bake: preheat oven to 425°F/218°C. Cover edges with aluminum foil or a pie ring to prevent burning. Bake for 15 minutes, then decrease oven temp to 375°F/190°C until done (40 - 50 minutes).
Lastly, here are a few links:
- For Convenience & A Better Crust: Freeze Unbaked Pies
- How To Freeze Pies
- How To Freeze Unbaked Pies
- Hints For Cooking Frozen Fruit Pies
- Preventing Freezer Burn
Blueberry Bounty & Frozen Pies © August 2013