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How to Find (and Make) Dried Blueberries

Where can I buy dried blueberries? I never heard of them until today!

There are dried blueberries?

Well of course there are dried blueberries and you can even make your own!

Dried blueberries are produced in various ways. Fresh or frozen blueberries can be dehydrated using hot air. Blueberries dried in this way are generally infused with a sugar syrup first, to make them sweeter, heavier, and chewier (rather than crispy). These blueberries have a moisture content around 18%.

Other blueberries are freeze-dried, where moisture is removed from frozen berries using a very low temperature and a vacuum. This process takes them to a moisture content of only 2% to 4%. They lose more than 90% of their weight, but retain their shape and color, and so are highly prized for use in snack foods and cereals. One manufacturer says its freeze-dried berries are shelf-stable in the can for 10 years. There are also sweetened freeze-dried blueberries, and these are similar to the raisin-like dried berries mentioned above, with a moisture content of 9% to 14%.

There are also osmotically dried blueberries, which are infused with a syrup that pushes out moisture through osmosis. We are not completely sure how this works, but according to the US Highbush Blueberry Council, osmotically dried blueberries are shelf-stable and moist.

The syrup used to sweeten either hot-air-dried or freeze-dried blueberries can contain sucrose, malic acid, sunflower or other oils, natural blueberry flavor, and citric acid. You'll want to read the label to see what you're getting.

Now, none of this tells you where to find these blueberries that have been hiding from you for so long. Particularly well-stocked grocery stores have them, but natural-food stores will be your best bet. For the more remotely located, there is always the online option.

Finally, if you wish to dry your own blueberries, you should blanch them in boiling water for 15 to 45 seconds, then plunge them into cold water to crack the skins. Then dry them on a screen in the sun if you live in a warm, dry place, or in the oven, if you can set it around 140F (60C), or in a dehydrator.

Blueberries are also available fresh, frozen, and canned, and in pie fillings and sauces. The commercial world also has dried blueberry powder available, which is produced by tumbling blueberries and blueberry juice in hot air until dry.

The dried blueberry market is not huge. Of the 508 million pounds of blueberries consumed in North America in 2007, a little under half were eaten fresh, while most of the rest were frozen.

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