This question has been asked before but only with respect to washing a small container.

We have a friend who runs fruit stands in the summer and we typically get 10 pounds of blueberries at a time from him. Before freezing or eating, they need to be washed, and I always struggle to find an efficient way to get rid of the squished berries, the stems, the leaves, etc.

I'll post what I do as an answer, but I wonder if there is a better way, or some equipment that would make it easier.

4 Answers 4


When I was a kid, we picked tons of blueberries. We had a frame made out of 1" x 4" boards, 2'+ wide and about 4' to 5' long. At the far end, the frame was angled towards the middle (narrow side) with a space for the berries to drop into a bucket placed below (maybe 4" to 6"). On the bottom of the frame we had metal window screen stapled down (no cloth screen back then, not sure if cloth would work). Place a bucket at the one end (narrow tapered end), dump berries at the opposite end, raise the frame on the far end (away from the bucket) enough so that when you gently shake the frame, the berries start rolling towards the bucket. The screen will help hold the smaller leaves in place. Some you will have to raise the frame higher for, some you will have to remove leaves directly attached to the berries. Once the berries are in the bucket, dump the leaves left on the screen and start with the next batch. Always worked well and was very fast. Best with fresh picked berries, unwashed.


What I do is use a big plastic bowl. The bowl is about 18" in diameter at the top and holds about 2 gallons of water.

I fill the bowl about 1/2 to 2/3 full of blueberries and then fill it to the brim with water and leave the water running into it. As the bowl is filling and when it's full I gently agitate the berries with my hands.

Most of the chaff naturally floats to the top and spills over the edge of the bowl. As I agitate the berries, I also try to direct any leaves to the edge and pull any berries back from the edge. I lose a few good berries, but not too many and since I'm dealing with a lot of them I don't worry about it too much.

As I'm agitating the berries, I can feel a lot of the squishy ones and pull them out to look at them and discard if they're too far gone.

When most of the chaff is gone, I dump the berries into a colander and let them drain. I've tried spinning them in a salad spinner, but for the amount of berries I'm trying to process, I've found that in order to remove any appreciable amount of water I can only put a small amount at a time in the spinner so it takes forever to spin them all.

So I let them drain, and then since I'm usually freezing these berries, I put some paper towels down on a tray and spread out a layer of berries. When they're spread out I can pick out most of the squished or shriveled ones that I missed earlier, then I pull the paper towels out and freeze them.

I haven't ever looked for one, but I've always wondered if there's such a thing as a colander or sieve or screen with really big holes - i.e. just slightly smaller than a blueberry - that I could just dump the berries into and rinse off all the debris.

One big limitation to this technique is that it bogs down if you're dealing with less than fresh berries. Picking out all the squished or moldy ones if they've been sitting around too long is problematic.


Living in Maine we have a lot of blueberries.The answer above using the frame is excellent and the best way.I have found that putting them in a bowl of water did not work very well.We picked two big bowls yesterday and I do not have a frame so I find the best way is to use a couple of kitchen towels put them on the table pouring about a cup of berries on the cloth,rolling the berries down the cloth with a flat hand and in to the bowl.Sometimes I needed to go on to the next towel.Shake the towel off in between cups.Hard work but worth it.Going picking again this morning.


Round things will readily roll down an inclined plane, such as a tilted cutting board, while squished berries will stick to the surface. A dishpan makes for a nice container to catch the good berries. You have to keep the berry stream a bit thin, and swipe off the damaged berries every pound or so, but you can get through a lot of berries very quickly this way.

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