Healthy and Delicious Dried Blueberries - Some Facts, Drying Tips and Recipes

Delicious, nutritious blueberries
Delicious, nutritious blueberries | Source

Let's Talk Blueberries

Dried Blueberries have been around for a long time. Most people don’t think a lot about them and you’ll seldom hear the subject discussed in stimulating conversation. If you ever do though, you can be an active participant after reading this article. There are things here that can mark you as knowledgeable on the topic. So read, learn and then show off your blueberry intelligence but don't forget to enjoy a generous helping of this healthy food, too.

The Difference Between Fresh Blueberries and Dried Blueberries

In short, fresh blueberries have more nutrients than dried. The process of dehydrating the berries decreases the level of water soluble vitamins, such as the B's and C. Makes sense, right? Don't let this information lead you to believe that there are no health benefits in eating dried blueberries, however. The dried version of this healthy fruit is a convenient way to increase your fruit intake and, like all blueberries, they are an excellent source of anthocyanins and phenolics, two powerful antioxidants. In fact, dried blueberries have four times the amount of antioxidants that the fresh ones do. That's thanks to the fact that the drying process concentrates some of the elements of fruits. They are also high in fibre and a quick source of energy.

Dried blueberries are great for baking, snacks and topping cereal - delicious and nutritious and really perfect for use in mini muffins and bagels. Actually, any recipe in which you do not want the berry to burst is generally a good application for the dehydrated version of the blueberry.

Dried blueberries
Dried blueberries

F.Y.I.

Factoid #1

In the U.S.A., July is National Blueberry Month. Canada's is in August.

Factoid #2

If properly stored, dried blueberries can last up to a year.

Different Drying Methods

Okay, this may be a dry subject (are you groaning?) but you may not know that there are a few different ways that blueberries are dried.

Hot Air Dehydration Method

I probably don't have to explain the basic methodology for this one. The berries are dehydrated using hot air to reduce the moisture content to about 18%. This procedure can be used on fresh or frozen blueberries, which are often treated with a sugar syrup first, resulting in a sweet, chewy finished product, similar to some types of raisins.

Air dried fruit is prepared in a variety of formats, such as diced or lightly oiled. You don't have to stick to the same old dried blueberries.

Be sure to store your air dehydrated berries in a cool, dry place.

Freeze Dried Method

Via flash freezing and a vacuum process, the berries are reduced to a mere 2% or less moisture content while retaining their original colour and shape. The weight of a freeze dried blueberry is only 10% of what it was when fresh.

It's also possible to buy sweetened freeze dried berries. These have the chewiness of raisins, similar to the sweetened dehydrated ones. Typically, they will have a 9 - 14% moisture content.

Cool, dry storage will ensure a long shelf life.

Sun Dried Method

This is a very natural way to dry fruit. Field drying blueberries takes two or three weeks, as they are left to dry on the vine or are picked and laid out between the plant rows. They retain about 15% of their original moisture content.

Infused Dehydrated Method

Fresh or frozen blueberries are infused with glucose syrup and/or fruit juice concentrate. This is done by soaking the fruit in whichever solution is being used. When the syrup or juice is fully absorbed, the process is completed with air drying to desired moisture level. The end result is a moist blueberry with a long shelf life.

It's best to keep these berries in a cool, dry location.

Make Your Own Dried Blueberries

Drying your own food is always satisfying, in my opinion. I used to have two food dehydrators and I love growing, harvesting and making my own seasonings, leathers and such. It's not difficult but drying times can be long, depending on the size and moisture content of the fruit.

  1. It's best to start with fresh, ripe berries that are at their peak and are free of spots, wrinkles or mold.  You'll know that blueberries are ripe if they are the typical deep blue colour and have no red on them.  Just pick through them to remove any that are imperfect.
  2. Rinse the blueberries in cool water.  You're not just making sure they are clean, you are also getting rid of any pesticide residue.  Some people prefer using the organic variety, which is grown in a pesticide-free environment but regular store bought will work fine as long as you give them a good rinsing.
  3. If you want, you can put the fruit into a bowl and add the juice of one lemon.  Stir gently to coat the berries, then drain off the remaining juice.
  4. Spread the blueberries in a single, even layer in a food dehydrator tray.  Dehydration time will depend on how dry you like them but should take at least 6 - 10 hours.

An Alternative Recipe

I have not tried this recipe, however I can't see why it wouldn't work well.

  1. Choose and rinse fresh blueberries, as per #1 above.
  2. Blanch for 15 - 45 seconds, then plunge into cold water. The idea is to crack open the skins.
  3. Spread out the berries in a single layer. You have 3 different options for the actual drying:
  • on a screen in the sun (won't work if humidity is high)
  • in an oven set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60C)
  • in a food dehydrator

If you use the screen or oven method, be sure to turn the berries now and again so that they dry evenly.

Store your homemade dried blueberries in an airtight container or ziploc bag in a cool, dry place.

Don't You Feel Smarter Now?

I hope this hub has armed you with enough information for you to impress folks during your next cocktail party. You know it, now you can flaunt it. If you really want to make an impression, take along a bag of dried blueberries to use as a lead into the conversation. Talk about a great learning tool!  Don't get so busy sharing your new found knowledge that you forgot to grab a handful yourself.

Whether you eat dried blueberries because you like the flavour, want the super antioxidants or like the convenience of a fruit ready on the shelf, you can't go wrong with this delicious, nutritious fruit. Why not try experimenting with recipes and drying methods. Even if you prefer to buy them from a store, enjoy the benefits, convenience and taste.

© 2009 Shirley Anderson

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Comments 35 comments

msorensson profile image

msorensson 7 years ago

I used to dry fruits in the same dehydrator kit, so this reminds me of it. However time is a luxury these days and I ound that I am the only one really fond of the dried fruits. My son will share a little bit of it but he is a typical american kid who now runs around with his friends and although he cooks his meals at home, he is still not fond of the dried fruits.

Thank you for reminding me. I love the smell of drying fruits. The process certainly allows the fruits to retain much of their original nutritional value and a great source of fiber.

I have since donated the dehydrator.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Hello, Shirley! Great idea for a hub! Once when I was twelve, I got roped into going to "spend some time" with my relatives in Philadelphia. I really didn't want to go, as I wanted to hang out with my friends during the summer. "It's only for two weeks," my mom insisted, so before I knew it, I was put into a headlock and thrown into our family station wagon.

Next, I was waking up at 5 every morning and was on the field (which was freezing, mind you from the morning dew) and picking blueberries, no kidding from sun up to sun down...FOR TWO WEEKS! The aunt I was staying with would occasionally leave and come back via broomstick. She was the worst! TWO WEEKS! To top if off, she fed me like I was a sqirrel and treated me like I was a boot.

When I returned home, I was darker than licorice and just as skinny. For the next six years I could not look, touch, taste, smell or think blueberries. I hated them like they roughed me up in an alley...for TWO WEEKS!

Thought I share that with you.


rb11 profile image

rb11 7 years ago from Las Vegas

It sounds like this method will produce a long shelf life. Even with a small amount of moisture in the container one would assume oxidation would occur at some point. Thanks for all the tips.

Regards


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Shirley: I admit, I thought that you were going to say that fresh blueberries are much healthier than dry blueberries, I am glad to read its not the case, so I can buy the dried version, (don't have time to dry them, but good to know how its done) to have as sweet snacks for my me and my s/o. Thanks for reminding me to buy blueberries!


shamelabboush profile image

shamelabboush 7 years ago

Salivating already, thanks Shirley :)


Robert 7 years ago

Thanks Shirley that was a great article and that knowledge will be put to good use, hopefully not dry....:)

It did also shed some light on the sun dry process that we were discussing the other day.

Keep up the awesome work


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

MSorensson, I love dried fruits, too. My kids do like them, although when they were younger they preferred the sweeter store bought brand to my homemade. That had more to do with my drying expertise than anything. I was afraid of giving somebody botulism when I first got into dehydrating, so made everything crunchy. I figured that if I dried things until they were almost dust, they were safer. Luckily, that is not the case at all and I don't recommend doing that. :)

A few years ago, when I was moving into a much smaller place, I gave away both of my dehydrators. Someday, I may get another one though because I enjoyed the process immensely.

Thank-you for coming by and sharing your story with us!


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Oh my God, Dohn! You poor thing! I can't say that I blame you for never wanting to see another blueberry again as long as you live.

I had to chuckle though. I don't think you've let it go yet. :) That nasty aunt of yours has scarred you for life.

Thanks for telling us that story. Hopefully, this will be a good lesson to others - don't send your kids to visit those types of relatives! :)


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hi, VS! Actually fresh blueberries have more of the water soluble vitamins - the B's and Vitamin C - but the dried version has tons more of the antioxidants, as well as the fibre.

Thanks for coming by, VS! Enjoy your yummy blueberry snacks!


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Shamelabboush, hope you'll get or make yourself some of these dried berries. Thanks for commenting.

Hi, Robert! Glad you liked the hub and hope it was at least somewhat helpful for the sun drying process that you were talking about. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!


Patti Ann profile image

Patti Ann 7 years ago from Florida

I love blueberries - eat them every morning in my oatmeal. This time of year when you can get them at a reasonable price, I stock up on them. I usually freeze them - I didn't even think about drying them. Thanks for the great hub!


Ashley Joy profile image

Ashley Joy 7 years ago

I love blueberries, but even when in season they tend to be expensive. Plus if you buy them dried they only get more expensive.


fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

great info! Them blueberry bushes are starting to put out some nice one toos! yum

dori


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I'm with you, Patti Ann! I love blueberries, too. They're good for all kinds of things like memory, anti-aging, etc. so I'm happy that they're on my list of top 10 favourite fruits.

Frozen blueberries are great, as well. I use to use those in pancakes and for baking, mostly.

Good luck with the drying process if you try it. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hi, Ashley. Yes, blueberries can be expensive but oh so good! I'm not sure if a garden co-op would offer cheaper berries or not but you may want to check that out. If you have a yard, you could try growing your own. I'm hoping to have time to write a hub about growing them before too long.

Thank-you for coming by.


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Dori, I'm salivating right along with you. Have you tried blueberry jam? It's to die for!

Thanks for visiting my hub!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

We love to used dried blueberries on cold cereal or on hot oatmeal (when we don't have fresh berries.

We have a few blueberry bushes-- but always eat all of the ones we get fresh.

Very informative article-- did not know the differences in the dried ones. Hope someday I get enough to dry my own.


Jenny30 profile image

Jenny30 7 years ago from Canada

I am going to try your tips for sure! Great article!


EverythingMouse profile image

EverythingMouse 7 years ago

Blueberries are a favorite of mine. Usually I buy them fresh but sometimes have dried as a stand by.


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 7 years ago from Texas

Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits. Plenty tasty but not too sweet. I've never tried drying them though. I enjoy them so much I decided to try growing some of my own and wrote this hub about it. We'll see how well it works out.

http://hubpages.com/living/Growing-Blueberries


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Oh Rochelle, if I had the bushes there'd never be any left over to dry - I love them! They are good on cereal. Have you tried them in vanilla pudding? Mmmmm.

Thanks for coming by, Rochelle.


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks, Jenny and Everything Mouse!

John, you must be a mind reader. I was going to do a hub about growing blueberry bushes. I'll have to pop over and enjoy your hub, thanks for making me aware of it and for commenting.


Andrew Tech profile image

Andrew Tech 7 years ago from Australia

Great read Shirley!

Gotta love blueberries! Keep up the good work! :)


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks, Andrew! I do love blueberries!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Blueberries are so good. For economic reasons we purchase bags of them frozen at Costco and they are (almost)as good as fresh. Yum! Making me drool.


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Nothin' wrong with frozen blueberries, Peggy. I like to mix them into a vanilla pudding cup - very good!

Thanks for coming by!


Nisha shan 7 years ago

I have heard about the medical properties of Blue berries. This blog has provided me with information more than I have expected. Thanks for the hub.


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I'm glad that this hub was a good source of information for you, Nisha.

Thank-you for reading and commenting.


ftwells profile image

ftwells 6 years ago

I have never dried them. We always freeze them. Love dried fruit though, cranberries, apricots, raspberries. Constantly eating them as snacks. Also dried blueberries are delicious when dipped in chocolate. Great gift especially at this time of year. Great hub.


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

FTWells, blueberries dipped in chocolate...mmmmmm! I've never had them but that sounds wonderful, thanks for letting me know about a tasty new treat! I'll have to look for them.


Mary Montague 6 years ago

Thanks for the great site. Can I dehydrate frozen berries in the oven? What about using a little sweetening with them?


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hi, Mary. I have dehydrated fresh berries but have not tried it with frozen. The moisture content is likely pretty high. To get the sweetener in them, you will probably have to soak them in it somehow, so the yummy sweetness gets absorbed into the flesh. I don't know if you need to do that though, because dried fruit is naturally sweeter than fresh. The sugars become concentrated.

If you decide to give it a try, please come back and let us know how you made out and if you have any tips.

Thanks, Mary!


martycraigs profile image

martycraigs 6 years ago

What a great hub! Blueberries are my favorite fruit, and I tend to eat them like crazy (think multiple cartons at a time...in only a matter of a few minutes). I've never tried dehydrating the blueberries myself, but will definitely consider doing so using your instructions, advice, and provided information.

Thanks for sharing this great information!


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

You're a man after my own heart, Marty. Blueberries are like peanuts or Lay's potatoe chips...you can't eat just one. I love them, they're my favourite, too.

Good luck with your adventures in dehydrating!

Thanks for coming by, Marty.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Shirley, a wonderful hub on benefits of dried blueberries. I liked the home method of drying your own blueberries. I have put a link to this hub in my hub on benefits of blueberries.

thanks for sharing.

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