How to Cook Down Fresh Blueberries


Blueberries, with their powerhouse nutritional value, add polka dots of feel-good flavor to pancakes, muffins, pastries and pies. Bite into one -- fresh, frozen or dried -- and you get an instant taste of summer sunshine, no matter the time of year. During blueberry season, which lasts from late spring into late summer, depending on your area of the country, you can cook fresh blueberries down to a concentrated elixir for sauce, syrup, jam or jelly.

Things You'll Need

  • Colander
  • Saucepan
  • Water
  • Sweetener, such as granulated sugar
  • Wooden spoon
  • Small bowl
  • Thickener, such as cornstarch or pectin
  • Flavorings
  • Acid, such as lemon juice
  • Rinse the blueberries in a colander under cool running water. Discard any damaged or rotting blueberries, and remove any stray stems.

  • Add water and sugar to a saucepan and heat it on high heat to create a simple syrup. For every pound of fresh blueberries, add 3/4 cup each of water and sugar. Heat the mixture, stirring frequently, until it begins to simmer.

  • Add the blueberries to the saucepan and stir them with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to medium.

  • Mix in any additional flavorings at this time -- options include vanilla or almond extract, and ground cinnamon or nutmeg. Add a small amount of acid, such as lemon juice, to the blueberries to help break down the berries; for 1 pound of blueberries, for example, use 2 tablespoons of acid.

  • Mix water and cornstarch (2 to 1 ratio) in a small bowl using a whisk or fork to create a slurry; for 1 pound of blueberries, use 4 tablespoons of water to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add the slurry to the saucepan and stir well.

  • Cook, stirring frequently, until the blueberries start to break down, about 10 minutes for a chunky sauce or jam. For a smoother application, such as syrup or jelly, cook the berries until they're very soft. Set the blueberries aside to cool if you want to can them, or use them immediately.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use clean and dry jars for canning. Canned blueberry jam, jelly or sauce can keep for up to six months in a cool, dry location.
  • To prepare the blueberries for jam or jelly, use pectin instead of a cornstarch slurry.

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