Blackberries have one of the shortest peak seasons of all fruits in the United States, where harvests usually run from July to August. Blackberries also don't ripen after they've been picked, so they have to be picked when they're exactly ripe. This means you have a very short window for enjoying sweet and juicy blackberries.
Luckily, there are several ways to preserve blackberries so that you can enjoy these antioxidant-rich fruits year-round. If you grow your own blackberries, these food preservation methods may also come in handy for making the most of your blackberries when you've had too much to harvest. (h/t to PracticalSelfReliance.com)
Freeze blackberries – One of the easiest ways to preserve your fresh blackberries is to freeze them for future use. Before freezing, make sure to wash your blackberries and pat them dry or let them drain in the sink before putting them in freezer-safe containers. Frozen blackberries are great for smoothies.
Make blackberry compote – A compote is a simple fruit sauce that contains fresh bits of fruits, sugar and spices like cinnamon. It's not as thick as a jam but it's thicker than syrup. It makes a delicious topping for oatmeal or yogurt. Follow this easy recipe to make your own blackberry compote.
Make blackberry jam – Pectin, a starch found in blackberries, is a key ingredient in jams. It gives jam its consistency. Therefore, you can easily make blackberry jam without adding pectin.
Can blackberries – Canning allows you to preserve blackberries without a freezer. The fruits also hold up well to canning. Canned blackberries can be eaten straight out of the jar or used as a topping for yogurt, oatmeal and cereal.
Can blackberry pie filling – Fresh blackberries make a great filling for pies and cobblers. If you want to save extra pie filling for future use, pour the filling into a canning jar and seal it properly.
Make blackberry jelly – Blackberry jelly is great on toast, yogurt and oatmeal. It's also a fun but healthy way to get kids to eat more fruits. Follow this recipe to make blackberry jelly.
Make blackberry syrup – Making blackberry syrup involves boiling, simmering and cooling the blackberries before adding sugar. Can the resulting syrup for long-term storage.
Dehydrate blackberries – Dehydration is a method of food preservation. When you dry or dehydrate, you remove moisture from foods, which would otherwise foster the proliferation of bacteria. Dehydrated foods can last for months in the pantry. You can dehydrate blackberries using an oven or a dehydrator.
Make blackberry powder – Grind dehydrated blackberries to make blackberry powder. Blackberry powder makes a great natural flavor enhancer for teas, juices and smoothies.
Freeze-dry blackberries – Freeze-drying is a relatively modern food preservation method that allows foods to retain as much of their nutrients as possible while removing moisture. Freeze-dried foods usually last well over five years. You can freeze-dry blackberries at home if you have a freeze dryer.
Ferment blackberries – Fermenting is a great way to make fruits last in the pantry without issues. To ferment blackberries, mix blackberries, water and bacterial food culture from another fermented food.
Make blackberry wine – Fermentation is also at work when making your own blackberry wine. If you have never made wine before, just follow this simple recipe.
Make blackberry mead – Mead is a fermented beverage made using honey. You can make blackberry mead with fresh or frozen berries. Like wine, mead needs to ferment for weeks before it can be bottled.
Make blackberry vinegar – Add blackberries to vinegar to make fruit-infused vinegar for your salads. The acetic acid in vinegar kills microbes to prevent spoilage, making vinegar an effective natural preservative. (Related: 10 Reasons to use apple cider vinegar.)