Alaska Blueberries

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by Julie Cascio

There are many species of blueberries in Alaska. All blueberries can be eaten fresh or used interchangeably in pies, muffins, puddings, jellies, jams and other recipes.

Nutrition and Health

Blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants, a group of biochemicals shown to be an important part of the human diet. The oxygen radical absorption Blueberry plantcapacity test (ORAC) shows overall antioxidant activity. Original research with fruits shows cultivated blueberries with a score of 24, which is higher than other commercial fruits included in the studies. Anything above 40 is considered very high.

Wild Alaska blueberries score even higher:

Product Score

Blue Huckleberry

Dwarf Blueberry 85
Bog Blueberry 77
Alaska Blueberry 76
Wild Blueberry (Lower 48) 61

When berries are processed, antioxidant levels change but are still high compared to other fruits.

Wild Alaska blueberry products provide the following ORAC values:

Product Score

Dried Berries

Fruit Leather 270
Frozen Fruit 71
Frozen Juice 48
Canned Juice 44
Canned Fruit 43
Jam 36
Syrup 32

Cleaning, Storage and Preservation

Spread a clean, dry terry cloth towel over a slanted surface, such as a cutting board with one end propped up a few inches above the other. Gently roll the berries down the towel; most of the debris and leaves will cling to the towel while the berries roll off.

Wild blueberries sometimes contain the immature or resting life stage of insects. Often, affected berries are wrinkled or distorted. One option is to pick through and discard these berries. Another option is to make a brine solution of ½ teaspoon salt to 1 gallon tepid water. Add berries and let stand for one hour. The worms will escape from the berries into the water. Drain and rinse berries.

Clean blueberries may be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Berries will keep up to one week. Long-term storage methods include freezing and drying.

Holding blueberry plant

How to Freeze

Arrange dry, fresh berries on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer. When frozen, transfer berries to freezer bags or containers. Seal and label. Properly frozen berries will last up to two years.

How to Dry

Sun: Select firm, dry blueberries. Cover a flat tray with cheesecloth or light muslin. Spread the berries on the cloth; place tray in the sun. Dry in sun for two days, turning once or twice. Then set tray in a warm, dry place and let blueberries stand until leathery to the touch.

Oven: Use a very low heat (140F). The oven door must be left ajar so moisture can escape. Estimated drying time is 48 to 72 hours.

Dehydrator: Spread clean, dry berries on open screen, following the instructions that come with the dehydrator. Dry at 140F. Estimated drying time is 24 to 36 hours.

Store dried, cooled berries in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Use as you would raisins. Dried blueberries can be soaked in water for use in baking.

How to Extract Juice

Combine 11 cups of blueberries and 1 cup water. Crush berries. Bring just to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Strain through jelly bag or in a colander through several layers of cheesecloth. Let juice drip into a bowl. For clear juice, do not twist or press

jelly bag or cheesecloth. For long-term storage, the 
juice should be canned or frozen.

Yield: 5½ cups

Hot pack for juice

Sterilize canning jars. Heat juice, stirring occasionally, until it begins to boil. Pour into hot  jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims.  Adjust lids. Process in a boiling water canner.  

  • Pints or quarts — 5 minutes
  • Half gallons — 10 minutes

How to Prepare Puree

Cooked Method: Add 1 cup water to 4 cups blueberries. Cook until skins have popped. Press  through a food mill or sieve. Discard skins and  seeds.

Yield: 2 cups

Uncooked Method: Rinse 4 cups blueberries; drain,  put in a blender and blend until the consistency of  thick puree.

Yield: 2 cups

For long-term storage, the puree may be immediately dried as fruit leather or frozen. To freeze, pack  puree into rigid containers leaving ½ inch headspace to allow for expansion. Seal and freeze. Canning is not a safe method of preserving puree.

  • To sterilize canning jars, boil in water for 5 minutes.
  • To prepare two-piece lids (rings and tops),  wash, rinse set aside until ready to use. Follow  manufacture’s directions for use.
  • If less sugar is desired in recipes calling for  pectin, be sure to use no-sugar-needed pectin  and follow the instructions on the box.
  • See later instructions on this page for how to use a boiling water canner.


Blueberry Applesauce Fruit Leather

  • 1 cup blueberry puree
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Oven dry: Combine blueberry puree, applesauce  and honey. Line a cookie sheet with microwaveable  plastic wrap. Spread puree mixture evenly about ¹⁄8 to ¼ inch thick over the plastic, but do not push it  completely to the sides. Leave a bit of plastic showing for easy removal. Dry at 140F for 10 to 18  hours, leaving oven door slightly open so moisture  can escape. Test periodically for dryness. The fruit  leather is dry when it is pliable and peels easily off  the plastic.

Dehydrator: Lightly oil the plastic tray or spread  the puree on parchment paper cut to fit the dryer racks. Do not push the puree completely to the  sides. Dry at 140F for about 8 hours until evenly  dry. It should have a leathery texture. While warm, peel from plastic and roll. Allow to cool and rewrap the roll in plastic. Place the wrapped pieces  in a heavy plastic bag or airtight storage container. Leather will keep up to one month in a cool, dry,  dark place. For storage up to one year, place tightly  wrapped rolls in the freezer.

Plain Blueberry Jam

  • 4 cups crushed blueberries (about 6 cups whole  berries)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 package powdered pectin (1¾ ounces)
  • 4 cups sugar

Sterilize pint or half-pint canning jars and prepare  lids. Measure sugar and set aside. Measure prepared fruit and lemon juice into a large saucepan.  Add pectin and stir until dissolved. Bring to a full  boil over high heat, stirring constantly. At once stir  in sugar. Stir and bring to a full rolling boil that  cannot be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute,  stirring constantly. Remove from heat and quickly  skim off foam. Pour jam into hot 8-ounce jam jars,  leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and add  prepared two-piece lids. Submerge the filled, closed  jars under boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove  from the water bath and let set on a rack for 12  hours. When cool, check seal, wipe jars, remove  ring and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

Yield: 5 cups

Simple Blueberry Jelly

  • 5½ cups blueberry juice
  • 5½ cups sugar

Sterilize pint or half-pint canning jars for 10  minutes in boiling water. Prepare lids and bands.  Combine ingredients; bring slowly to boiling, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly,  stirring frequently, until gelling point is reached —  220F on a candy thermometer. Pour jelly into hot  jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and  add prepared two-piece lids. Process 5 minutes in a  boiling water bath.

Yield: 7 cups

Blueberry Jelly

  • 5½ cups blueberry juice
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 3 ounces liquid pectin

Sterilize pint or half-pint canning jars for 10 minutes in boiling water. Prepare lids and bands. Open  pectin pouch and stand it upright in a cup or glass.  Measure juice into a large saucepan. Stir in sugar.  Place on high heat; stir constantly and bring to a  full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add  the liquid pectin and heat again to a full rolling  boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam. Immediately pour jelly into hot canning jars, leaving  ¼ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and add prepared  two-piece lids. Submerge the filled, closed jars under boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from the  water bath and let set on a rack for 12 hours. When  cool, check seal, wipe jars, remove ring and store in  a cool, dry, dark place.

Yield: 8 cups

To process in a boiling water canner, follow these steps:
  1. Fill the canner halfway with water. Preheat water  to a low boil. Place filled jars, fitted with lids, into  the canner on the rack. Add more boiling water, if  needed, so the water level is at least 1 inch above  jar tops. Turn heat to its highest position until  water boils vigorously. When the water boils, set  a timer for the recommended processing time  indicated in the recipe. Cover with the canner lid  and lower heat setting to maintain a gentle boil  throughout the processing time. Add more boiling  water, if needed, to keep the water level above the  jars.  
  2. When the jars have been boiled for the recommended time, turn off the heat and remove the  canner lid. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars and  place them on a towel, leaving at least 1 inch of  space between the jars during cooling.  
  3. After cooling jars for 12 to 24 hours, remove the  screw bands and test seals. Press the middle of the  lid with a finger. If the lid springs up when finger  is released, the lid is unsealed. If a lid fails to seal  on a jar, remove the lid and check the jar-sealing  surface for tiny nicks. If necessary, change the jar,  add a new, properly prepared lid and reprocess  within 24 hours using the same processing time.  Alternately, adjust headspace to 1½ inches and  freeze or store in the refrigerator and use within  three days.
  4. If lids are tightly sealed on cooled jars, remove  screw bands, wash the lid and jar to remove  food residue, then rinse and dry jars. Label and  date the jars. Store in a clean, cool, dark, dry  place.Boiling water canner


Cooperative Extension Resources

Using Alaska’s Wild Berries and Other Wild Edibles ($15), FNH-00120

Other Resources

Holloway, P., R. Dinstel and R. Leiner. 2006. Antioxidants in Alaska Wild Berries, Georgeson  Botanical Notes, No. 27.

Julie Cascio, Extension Faculty, Health, Home and Family Development.

Reviewed December 2020