How to Tell Blueberries Are Ripe
If you’re growing blueberries in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7, they become ripe from the middle of May to August, depending on the variety. The best way to tell when your blueberries are ripe is to look at the color. Ripe blueberries are deep blue with no green, pink or red spots.
When Are Blueberries Ready to Pick?
All you have to do is look at the appearance of your blueberries to see if they’re in season and ready to pick. When your blueberries turn a deep shade of blue, leave them on the bush for about four days to make sure they’re completely ripe. You can leave them on the bush for up to 10 days, and they’ll continue to get sweeter. If you pick them as soon as they turn blue, they don’t get any sweeter. Mature blueberry bushes should yield from seven to 10 pints of berries.
What Is the Best Time of Day to Pick Blueberries?
Once your blueberries ripen, wait until the morning dew dries before picking them. Moisture on the blueberries can increase the growth of mold when your berries are in containers. Also, waiting until the afternoon to pick berries increases the breakdown of the berries from the afternoon heat. This can cause damage and splitting of the berries, so they don’t last very long. The best time to pick ripe berries is in the cool morning hours after any moisture dissipates.
What Is the Best Method for Picking Ripe Blueberries?
Whether you picked wild blueberries as a child, or you went to a blueberry farm to pick your berries, all you need to fill your pail are your hands. You’ll notice that the blueberries grow in clusters on your bushes. Each of the clusters ripen at different times, so harvest your berries weekly, once they begin turning blue. You can either drop your blueberries gently into your pail or line the pail with a plastic bag, so you can lift the berries out of the pail without damaging them. Use the following method to pick your blueberries without damaging them:
- Cup your hand under the blueberry cluster.
- Use your fingers to gently remove the clusters, letting them drop into your other hand.
- The ripe berries come off the stems easily, while the unripe ones will remain on the stems.
- Remove all the ripe berries from the bush and then move on to the next.
- After filling the container with about 5 inches of berries, start a new container. This prevents the berries at the bottom from getting crushed.
- When you’re all finished picking the blueberries, keep them in a cool location, out of sunlight.
- Carefully, pour the berries on a flat surface and pick out any damaged, diseased or under ripe berries.
Blueberries begin deteriorating in about 12 hours after picking, if left in a warm environment. Place your blueberries in the refrigerator after you sort them. For the best results, use a well-ventilated container. The temperature for storage should range from 33°F (.55°C) to 34°F (1.1°C).