Preserving blackberries is essential if you’re hoping to enjoy this berry all year round. Blackberries will spoil in the blink of an eye, but the good news is there are plenty of easy ways to preserve blackberries so you can enjoy them anytime!
Blackberries are my husband’s absolute favorite fruit, but they have such a short growing season (especially up here in the north). I’m always looking for new ways to preserve blackberries for the rest of the year.
As soft fruits, they’re so delicate and have a short life span after harvesting. They only stay good for a few days before they start to mold, so it’s essential to figure out different preservation methods for these berries.
Whether you grow them yourself or go to a local u-pick farm, take advantage of the short growing season and find different ways to preserve these little bites of summertime for the cold winter months.
How to Store Fresh Blackberries
One of the keys to storing fresh blackberries for longer is to avoid washing them when you harvest them. After you pick them off of the bushes, bring them inside and put them into the refrigerator. Keep them in a cardboard berry box or plastic clamshell-like you receive at the stores.
The best time to wash berries is when you’re ready to eat them. The problem with washing berries immediately is that they’ll stay damp even if you dry them. It increases how fast they spoil and mold.
Unfortunately, blackberries have a short shelf-life; they last up to five days in the refrigerator, but I find that two to three days is the peak for fresh eating. After that, I use one of the ways to preserve blackberries to stop them from going bad.
15+ Ways to Preserve Blackberries
In the past, we’ve made blackberry jelly, blackberry jam, canned whole blackberries, and blackberry wine, but that’s only the beginning. There are plenty of other ways to preserve blackberries and extend their season.
This year I’m going to try a few dehydrator recipes, and my daughter’s been begging for fruit leather too.
Freeze Fresh Blackberries
One of the easiest ways to preserve blackberries is to freeze them for future use. Sometimes, I freeze blackberries before canning; they make delicious jam after they’ve been frozen. I don’t always have time to make jam immediately, but I will later in the season. Frozen blackberries work well in pies, cobblers, and smoothies.
Freezing blackberries is easy and only requires a few steps.
First, make sure you wash your fresh blackberries well since insects like to land on them in the bushes. After washing, pat them dry but be gentle; you don’t want to end up with many squished blackberries. You also can let them drain in the sink for 20-30 minutes.
Then, spread them out on a baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. The berries need to be in a single layer without any of the berries touching. Put the baking sheet into the freezer for one to two hours before transferring the frozen berries to a plastic, freezer-safe bag or container.
Doing it this way is the best way to ensure the berries don’t freeze together in one big lump. If you want to scoop them out as you need for recipes, make sure you flash freeze in a single layer.
Freeze Blackberries Without Seeds
I often hear people complain about blackberry seeds; it’s not always desirable in different forms, especially in smoothies. It takes more work to preserve blackberries without seeds, but it’s possible.
The best way to do so is to wash the blackberries and puree them in a blender until you have a smooth consistency. Then, push the puree through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Use a spoon or spatula to help the puree move through the sieve. It takes time and work, but it’s an effective option.
After that, try freezing the puree in ice cube trays. This is great for baby food; you can mix pureed blackberries with other fruit for homemade baby food. You also can toss cubes of frozen blackberry puree in smoothies. Since it has a smooth texture, you also can thaw them to flavor homemade yogurt.
If you’ve never made a fruit compote, you’re missing out. A compote is a simple fruit sauce with fresh pieces of fruit and sugar. It’s cooked together, creating a textured sauce that tastes delicious. It’s not as thick as a jam, but it’s thicker than syrup. I like to use fruit compotes in yogurt or on top of oatmeal. You’ll find ways to use it because it’s just that yummy.
Cut up your blackberries into pieces and add in sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Bring it to a simmer over low heat, stirring frequently. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened, and then let it cool. Store it in a jar in your refrigerator, or freeze for later.
Take a look at this easy recipe for blackberry compote.
Blackberry Canning Recipes
Spring and summer is when most people take out their canning equipment and put tons of work into preserving the harvest that they grow. Blackberries are versatile, and there are tons of blackberry canning recipes. You don’t have to make 100 jars of blackberry jam; try using a few of these recipes.
You don’t find blackberry jam in the store; you have to make it at home. It’s delicious and a perfect way to use up extra blackberries.
Blackberries are high in natural pectin, so I prefer to make a simple blackberry jam without added pectin. All you need are the berries and sugar, but adding a bit of lemon juice helps bring out the flavor. Adding sugar helps create more jam, and the texture is less chunky, which is something my kids prefer.
You can take a look at my recipe for homemade blackberry jam without added pectin. It’s easy enough that beginners can make it, and it’s canning friendly. Pints and half-pint jars need to be processed for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
Canning Fresh Blackberries
Canning blackberries gives you a way to preserve them for year-round use without a freezer. Blackberries hold up well to canning, coming out of the jar firm and delicious. You can use them in any way that you’d use them fresh.
While I enjoy freezing them regularly, I find that canned blackberries are great for yogurt, oatmeal, and breakfast cereal. Take a look at how to can blackberries; they’re perfect right out of the jar!
Canning Blackberry Pie Filling
I think blackberry pie is delicious, but to be honest, I don’t always want to turn on the oven in the middle of the summer to bake a pie when it’s so hot and humid outside already.
Canning blackberry pie filling is an easy alternative; whenever I’m ready to start baking, I make the crust, pour in a jar, and bake it in the oven. It tastes like freshly made pie filling, but really, I made it months ago.
I love simplicity like that, and I make all manner of home-canned pie fillings including:
This recipe for blackberry pie filling is delicious. The hint of cinnamon brings out some earthy, sweet tones in the berries that I find particularly enjoyable. I like to can pie filling in quarts rather than pints because it’s the perfect size for a small pie.
My husband and I might love homemade blackberry jam, but my kids are all about jellies. They want the smooth jelly that jiggles on toast and stirs easily in a bowl of yogurt. Whether you make blackberry jelly or jam, the recipes are quite similar, and I don’t use pectin in either because blackberries make their own pectin, even if you take out the seeds and skins.
Making blackberry jelly requires an extra step – making blackberry jelly. Jelly comes from juice, and you need around four cups of juice to make a batch of jelly. That applies to all recipes, so it’s wise to remember that number.
Instead of putting blackberries through a juicer, the best way to get out the juice is to cool the berries with water and mash them over medium-high heat under the berries fall apart. Then, run this through a jelly bag or cheesecloth and let it drain for several hours.
Take a look at my recipe for making blackberry jelly without pectin – my kids love it!
Blackberry syrup is hands-down delicious. Everyone raves about strawberry syrup, but this takes the cake for me. I love to spread it over a stack of pancakes or Belgian waffles. It’s also delicious on vanilla ice cream.
Making blackberry syrup takes a few steps, but canning the syrup afterward is easy and preserves it for the winter months when you need a bite of summer. Here’s what you need to do.
Wash all of your blackberries and put them into a stainless steel pot. Add ¼ cup water for every pound of blackberries you have and bring everything to a boil. Then, let it simmer for 5-10 minutes with the lid on the pot.
Let the berries cool and strain the mixt through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds from the juice. Then, put the juice back into the cooking pot and mix the same number of cups of sugar as you have juice. For every four cups of berries, add ¼ cup lemon juice. Let everything simmer until the sugar is dissolved.
After cooling, the syrup is ready to use, but if you want to can it for future use, you need a water bath canner. Fill the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace, and process for 10 minutes.
Blackberry Dehydrating Recipes
There are several ways to preserve blackberries using a food dehydrator. The simplest way is to dehydrate the fruit and use them as a yummy snack or make fruit leather for the family to enjoy.
Dehydrated blackberries are a delicious snack alone or tossed into a bowl of granola. I like to use them in homemade trail mix – yum.
If you want to dehydrate blackberries, the first thing you have to do is wash them to get rid of any insects or dirt. Lay them out on a towel, and let them dry, gently patting them. Then, place the berries in your dehydrator in a single layer, making sure to leave space around the berries for proper air circulation.
Blackberries should be dehydrated at a low temperature – around 125℉ – and let them dry for 18-20 hours. How long you have to dry the berries depends on how wet they are and the humidity level in your home. They’ll be dry without any dampness and easily crushed when finished.
Once you have dehydrated blackberries, another step is to take the dried berries and turn them into blackberry powder. Fruit powders are becoming more popular; they can flavor teas, juices, water, ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies.
All you need to do is put the dried berries into a grinder and grind until it’s a fine powder. Then, I dry the fruit powder for an hour or two to ensure there is no residual moisture in the powder. Then, store it in an airtight container and find fun ways to use it.
Blackberry Fruit Leather
Homemade fruit leather isn’t just for kids; it’s a snack that everyone in your family will enjoy. After giving this a try, you’ll never want to buy the premade Fruit Roll-Ups from the store again that are full of preservatives and artificial everything.
All you need is blackberries, sugar, and some lemon juice. Put everything into a food processor or blender and combine until it’s the texture that you want. If you want, you can push the blended fruit through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds, but that’s a personal choice. Many people don’t mind the seeds.
After blended, spread the fruit leather out on parchment paper or a mat for your dehydrator, smoothing it with a spatula. If you use your oven, cook it at 170 degrees for 3-5 hours until the fruit is no longer sticky. Then, cut it into strips and enjoy it all week. While it’s possible to use your dehydrator, I find that the oven gives the best results for fruit leather.
Freeze Dried Blackberries
If you have a home freeze dryer, you can freeze dry blackberries at home. Home freeze dryers are expensive, but it’s one of the best ways to preserve fruits, vegetables, and other foods for long-term storage. Freeze-dried foods last well over five years when properly dried.
Make sure you read the manual when drying your blackberries. You should be able to use the same method for all of the berries that you grow in your garden.
If you’d like to try them first, I’d recommend trying freeze-dried blackberries from Valley Food Storage. They have the best quality freeze-dried food I’ve found anywhere.
Blackberry Fermentation Recipes
Blackberries will ferment on their own if left on the counter, but that’s not the good kind! If you direct the fermentation into something like homemade wine, then you have a real treat, and fermentation works to preserve the blackberries at the same time.
Fermentation doesn’t have to be alcoholic, you can also do probiotic Lacto ferments too!
Most people never think of fermenting berries, but it makes a delicious, healthy treat full of probiotics. It’s a great alternative to jams and sweetened fruit sauces that make an excellent topping for anything, like waffles, granola, pancakes, yogurt, and oatmeal.
Fermented fruits last for around one month in the fridge without issues. Technically, they last longer, but the longer they sit, the less sweet they become. The great thing about learning how to ferment fruits is that you can use any combination of fruits you want. If you don’t have enough blackberries, toss in some strawberries or raspberries to see how the flavor profile changes.
All you need to do is mix some culture (from another fermented food), water, sugar, and fresh berries. It takes two to three days for the fruits to ferment, and then you’ll move them into cold storage.
This recipe for fermented strawberries with honey and whey works perfectly with blackberries too!
Homemade Blackberry Wine
When you have a massive crop of summer blackberries, one of the best ways to preserve blackberries is to make blackberry wine. When the bushes are full and you pick large buckets of berries, it’s wine-making time.
I try to make this each year, and I wrote out the recipe that I use to make my homemade blackberry wine. It involves several steps, but it’s worth trying if you find that you have too many blackberries than you can use.
If you’ve never made wine, I suggest reading this beginner’s guide to small-batch wine before you get started.
Wine and mead are different. Wine is made from fermented fruits, while mead is made using fermented honey. You can make blackberry mead with fresh or frozen berries, but you need special equipment to make the recipe. Make sure you take a look at the list of ingredients before getting started.
The ingredients needed to make blackberry mead are simple; all you need is water, two to three pounds of honey, blackberries, and champagne yeast. It takes six weeks of fermenting before the mead can be bottled and aged. Plan for your mead to age between six months and three years, depending on the flavor profile that you want.
Making blackberry vinegar can be done from scratch, or you can simply infuse existing vinegar with fresh blackberries. Either way, it works to preserve the blackberries for months on end.
I love fruit-infused vinegars; they taste well with goat cheese and different veggies. Sometimes, I make blackberry vinegar and toss it with a salad, along with olive oil and salt. You also can use blackberry vinegar to make a vinaigrette.
Making fruit-infused vinegar is so easy. You need to let the vinegar and fruit steep for up to 10 days, and then you strain the mixture, reserving the liquid. After that, bring it to a boil with some sugar. Then, transfer it to bottles and enjoy.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also make fruit vinegar with blackberry juice, which starts by making blackberry wine and then you add vinegar culture to convert the alcohol to raw probiotic blackberry vinegar.
Preserving Blackberries in Alcohol
Not sure you’re ready to try your own ferments? No worries, you can use store-bought spirits to preserve blackberries in alcohol instead.
Preserving blackberries – or any berries – in alcohol is a simple preservation method that doesn’t require any cooking. They make delicious Christmas gifts, and there are tons of ways to use them.
All you need to do is combine two parts of blackberries with one part of brown sugar and cover with 80 to 100 proof brandy, rum, or vodka. Ensure all of the berries are covered by at least one inch of alcohol and leave the jar in a cool, dark place for at least four to six months.
Another way to preserve blackberries is to make homemade blackberry liqueur. It combines liqueur and delicious berries into one, perfect for any mixed drink you want to make this summer.
Before you make this, you have to make a simple syrup by combining one cup of water and one cup of sugar, heating it together until completely dissolved. After the simple syrup is cooled, lightly muddled blackberries and lime zest together, and then add brandy and vodka. The mixture has to steep for several days before being strained and mixed with the simple syrup.
Take a look at these easy instructions to make blackberry liqueur at home.
(I’m a particular fan of blackberry gin, and I just substitute blackberries into my blackcurrant gin recipe.)
Other Food Preservation Ideas
Don’t let your harvest go to waste. Here are a few more articles showing you how to preserve what you grow.