Blackberries: how to store them for winter

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Blackberries are one of the berries that we rarely store. Due to the high water concentration, blackberries can easily spoil and are mostly used as fresh. But there are plenty of ways to store blackberries, especially bigger amounts.

Blackberries on the wires

I grow my blackberries on wires. A few years back, we had two 10m long wire nettings of blackberries. Since this was too much for our family, we downsized the amount to one wire.

Growing blackberries on the wire has its benefits. The harvest is much easier than when they are grown as a bush. All of the berries are visible. Also, the harvested amount per cane is usually much bigger. The blackberry cane is bent on the wire, and its size is much longer than it would be if it were grown as a bush. On a bush, we can grow only as high as we can reach, while here, one cane can be used in its full length. Our wires are in 3 levels with 10m/32ft of wires on each level, and here we have up to 7 canes. Canes grew on their own the previous year, and in the spring the old canes are taken off the wires, and the new ones are tied.

Our blackberries are the early, thornless variety, so I start harvesting them in early July, and by the end of July I’m harvesting the last fruits.

Storing blackberries

We’ve been harvesting blackberries for over 20 years now, and over the years, we’ve tried many different methods of storing and processing blackberries. We started with jam, juice, and winemaking. Out of all 3, we kept on making lots of juice.

Juice is a bit difficult to make since blackberries have lots of pits and hairs, so it takes a long time to make. Still, it works much better than the jam and the wine. To make wine you need a cold basement, which we don’t have, so our wine usually turned into vinegar before we could drink it. This is why we gave up on the idea.


The easiest way to store fresh fruits is by freezing them. This is actually the only way to store fruits for fresh use. Fruits shouldn’t overripe, or they will be mushy when they defrost. I usually use the last berry harvests for freezing. The last berries are usually much smaller and don’t have as much juice as the first ripe ones. Berries can be frozen on trays or in bags, depending on the usage, and once they defrost, they can be used the same way as the fresh ones.

Dehydrating blackberries

Dehydrating blackberries is hard. That being said, it is possible to dehydrate them, but it will take a lot of time, especially if you have big blackberries like mine. The easiest way to dehydrate them is by using a dehydrator set on 55°C/131°F. Blackberries should be dried for at least 13 hours.

If you don’t have a dehydrator things get a bit harder. Blackberries, especially the juicy ones, tend to let out juice if they are dried too fast, so drying blackberries in the sun or the oven might take days. But, knowing how much space they take in a freezer, especially if you have bigger quantities as I have, all the dehydration time is well used.

Oven dehydrating

Preparing the berries for dehydration is simple. All you need to do is wash them, stack them on a tray, and place them in an oven with the door open ajar. Set the temperature to the lowest possible, which in my oven is 50°C/122°F, and leave them to dehydrate.

What I learned this year, is that although every instruction on oven drying writes that you should turn the blackberries every couple of hours, I’m against it. Juicy blackberries tend to stick to the tray, and when you try to turn it, the berry will release its juice the moment you touch it. Instead, I’ve used the on/off method. I’d dehydrate blackberries for a couple of hours, then turn the oven off, and leave them to cool down for a couple of hours. This way blackberries will remain fluffy when dry, and won’t turn into a juice blob.

This way I’d dehydrate the berries during the morning, leave them to cool down during the afternoon, turn the oven on in the evening, and turn it back off during the night. The dehydration will take a bit longer, but the berries will look much better.

Sun dehydrating

I should point out first that I’ve never tried to dehydrate fresh blackberries in the sun. It is probably possible, but only in very high daily temperatures. I did dehydrate my blackberries, but only after they were halfway done in the oven. The problem with sun dehydration is that if the nights are moist, the berries will rehydrate slightly during the night, and you’ll lose a couple of sun hours to dehydrate that moisture again.

The sun dehydration of the already half dehydrated berries is very simple. Just move the berries to a deeper tray, cover it with gauze or tablecloth to keep away the bugs, and leave the tray in the sun. Stir the berries every couple of hours.


Dehydrated berries can be stored in a glass jar during the winter, and used when needed. Rehydrating is simple. Depending on the way we’ll use them, they can be dipped in hot water, warm milk, or left for 24h in rum for special cakes. Rehydrated berries will taste the same as the fresh ones, but they won’t look as nice. Although rehydrated, they will still look a bit shriveled, so the best way to use them is to mix them in the meal. For fresh usage or as decoration, it is better to use the frozen one.

Blackberry powder

Another great way to store blackberries is to turn them into powder. This is my absolute favorite way of storing. The powder doesn’t take a lot of space, can be stored in a glass jar or in a zip bag, and can be used anywhere. We can make cakes, dips, fillings, yogurt, shakes everything and anything can be made with the powder. If you want a blackberry pudding, you can easily make it out of vanilla pudding and a spoon of blackberry powder. Anything can get a blackberry taste with it.

I should mention that blackberry powder is a bit rough, and it will never have that flour powder feeling. It will be slightly granular, similar to semolina, but this should be expected with the blackberries. Still, it is much less granular than meals with fresh berries, which are full of pits.

Making blackberry powder is simple. All we need to do is grind the dry blackberries in the coffee grinder. If you have a very powerful blender that can ground spices, then a blender can be also used, but the normal ones have too little rmp, and you’ll get a sticky paste. The coffee grinder will turn the dehydrated blackberries into powder heaven. The blackberry powder is highly concentrated, and one tablespoon is more than enough for any meal made with the powder.

There are many ways of storing blackberries, and each year we discover another way. Right now, my favorite is blackberry powder and freezing, but who knows? Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll find something even better.

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