Picked Early? A Guide To Blueberry Ripening

If you are growing your own blueberries, knowing when they are ripe may cause some issues. This sometimes leads you to pick your blueberries before they are ripe leaving you to wonder, will blueberries ripen off the vine?

Blueberries will ripen off the vine but it depends on how ripe they were before they were picked. They will ripen off the vine if picked when they have turned to a blue color. If blueberries are picked while they are still green or white, they will not ripen anymore.

In this article, we will be covering everything you need to know about what to do if you picked your blueberries too early. In addition, I’ll inform you about how to ripen and preserve any blueberry.

How To Ripen Blueberries After They Are Picked

blueberries on the vine.
Blueberries on the vine

As a Certified Health Coach many clients ask me about healthy fruit including blueberries. Also, I purchase and consume them every day. Therefore, I have researched this topic in the past and present. Let’s examine the topic closely.

Ok, so it’s time to get to the meat of this article and that is how to ripen your blueberries if you pick them a bit too early1. There are multiple ways of ripening them. For this article, we are going through what you should and should not do when it comes to ripen your blueberries.

The best way of ripening blueberries is to keep them at room temperature inside a paper bag. I recommend using a brown paper bag and then storing them in a dark space.

Something like a kitchen cupboard would be a good choice, and then leave them there until they are ripe. Remember to allow the blueberries to breathe by not sealing the bag.

What you do not want to do is to keep your blueberries in a container. This would cause condensation, and the blueberries will start to go bad before they are ripe, much like if you had picked the blueberries too early. This applies to most fruit, they should not be kept in sealed containers for more than a day.

You also do not want to place your unripe blueberries in the refrigerator. This will prolong the ripening process perhaps to a point where they go bad before they are ripe. Blueberries should only be placed into the refrigerator once they are ripe.

It is actually recommended to keep ripe blueberries in the refrigerator where they can survive for up to 10-14 days2.

How To Tell If Your Blueberries Are Ripe

It is easy to tell if a blueberry is ripe if you know what to look for. How to tell blueberries are ripe?

To tell if a blueberry is ripe check the color and the feel. A blueberry is ripe when the color is dark blue or purple. In addition, it will feel soft and easy to squeeze. A ripe blueberry will fall off the plant easily. 

Blue and purple blueberries.
Blue and purple blueberries

How Long Does It Take Blueberries To Ripen

This depends on when you pick the blueberry and how close they were to being ripe when they left the vine. In this section, we are looking at how long it takes for the blueberries to ripen while they are still on the vine and if they were picked a bit early.

Before They Are Picked

A blueberry tree can take up to 3-5 years to start yielding the fruit from when they are still seeds3. After that, the blueberries will start sprouting every season. This is between June and August in the United States. Once the blueberry enters the phase where it is green, it will take around 7 days to ripen.

After They Are Picked

If you pick the blueberry as it starts turning light blue, you will need to ripen them yourself as per the method we discussed above. Doing this will take approximately 3 to 4 days. Make sure you check on the blueberries at least once a day and if you see a few that have turned ripe, remove them from the bag.

What Is The Best Time To Pick Blueberries

Blueberries have a very small window where they are perfect to be picked. I think that is what makes this such a popular question. I like thinking of it like this: Blueberries go through three phases when they are on the vine. These three phases are indicated by their color4.

We are taking a look at these three phases, and I will start off with the third phase as this is when they are ready to be picked.

Blueberries: Light blue

Once your blueberries have started to turn blue, you know they are ready to be picked. This is because the ripening process has already started. If you want to pick your blueberries early and ripen them yourself, you can catch them at the exact perfect moment, when they’re light blue.

It is best to leave them on the vine for a few more days until they’re dark blue and plump to the touch. When they’re ready, they will fall off the bush really easy5.

In addition, you’ll be able to feel if a blueberry is ready to be picked once they have started becoming ripe. They will have a soft to the touch feel to them.

Blueberries: White

As a blueberry starts to sprout, they will be white/pink. The blueberry has no nutrients or natural sugar at this stage. So, if you pick the blueberry at this stage, it will never go ripe. Instead of ripening, the blueberry will just go bad.

A white blueberry will feel firm to the touch but can still be squashed as a white blueberry is still in its earliest forms of sprouting.

white blueberries.
White blueberries

Blueberries: Green

When a blueberry is still green, unlike some other fruit, it does not have a sufficient number of nutrients and sugars for it to ripen. Therefore, you should not pick the blueberries off the vine when they are green.

A green blueberry will feel hard and difficult to squash when it’s in this phase of the process.

Can You Freeze Blueberries

You should never freeze unripe blueberries unless you want them to stay unripe. When they are ripe, you can freeze them6 and people normally do this when they want to use blueberries for smoothies and things like that7.

Blueberries that get frozen are perfect for making smoothies and fruit juices because the inside will become mushy when defrosted. So, they are perfect for being put into the blender but not great for eating as they lose their texture.

In addition, you can add them to the smoothie frozen instead of adding crushed ice. This enhances the flavor and packs in more nutrients.

For a complete guide how to freeze them properly, check out my blog post by clicking here, How To Freeze Blueberries.

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

Read Next – More Food Storage

A Guide to Lemon Storage – Refrigerator Or Counter?

This is How to Freeze Broccoli

How To Store Mashed Avocado: The Complete Guide

  1. SFGATE: Will Blueberries Ripen if Picked Early? []
  2. Fruits and Veggies: Blueberries []
  3. Rutgers: Selecting Blueberry Varieties for the Home Garden []
  4. Michigan State University: Blueberries Growth Stages []
  5. The Old Farmer’s Almanac: Growing Blueberries []
  6. Michigan State University: Michigan Fresh: Using, Storing, and Preserving Blueberries []
  7. Fruits and Veggies: It’s Berry Picking Time []


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