A recipe I have has a review that states that frozen blueberries in a blueberry muffin are absolute garbage and only fresh ones will give you that desired taste. I have also seen this answer that notes that frozen blueberries that are thawed will give a better taste and composition in a blueberry muffin.

My wife insists that fresh blueberries are the only real way to make blueberry muffins, and that frozen blueberries are usually rotten, and aren't as real (she cites the fact that when baked, frozen thawed blueberries come out blue, but fresh ones come out purple.

Is there any real life merit to her claims? From a baking standpoint, what's the difference between frozen and non-frozen?

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    Not sure I want to pick sides in a domestic dispute, but I do agree that out of season fruits are usually watery and lacking in flavor. This also means that there is no definite answer to your question, as it asks for a subjective opinion and the "correct" answer will vary according to the seasons. – Richard ten Brink Mar 1 '15 at 2:32
  • @RichardtenBrink Let's not get too worked up over the use of the word "better". It might be a good idea to edit the question, but I'm not going to put this on hold over it, especially since the question asks about specific properties. (And if things do depend on the season, that's fine, answers can say that.) – Cascabel Mar 1 '15 at 2:39
  • I agree, the question needs to be rephrased but it is a real question, specifically one that seems to be trying to address a fundamental misunderstanding about what frozen fruits (or veggies) are. – Aaronut Mar 1 '15 at 2:48
  • I just want to understand whether from a cooking perspective, whether or not non-frozen plays out better than frozen are not – yuritsuki Mar 1 '15 at 2:53
  • I would say that likely depends on the item that is frozen and the final use of that item. Frozen is actually great because the fruit is often much more ripe when picked and then quickly frozen and whereas fresh may sit around for a week or two before it arrives at the store. – Catija Mar 1 '15 at 3:00
up vote 3 down vote accepted

When you are making blueberry muffins, frozen and fresh blueberries will give different end results. Frozen blueberries will almost "melt" when you bake the muffins, because the skin becomes more fragile after freezing. If you use fresh blueberries, they will be more intact after baking and will sometimes still "burst" when you bite into them. Which of these outcomes you prefer is entirely subjective (though obviously frozen are better).

As for the taste, some blueberries will have more taste than others. If they are grown out of season, they will most likely be flavourless. This goes for both fresh and frozen blueberries. I've found a brand of frozen blueberries that I use for muffins that give a have a nice taste year around: others may be terrible.

For the remark your wife made about frozen blueberries being rotten: I don't know where you live, but that is most certainly forbidden in the US and Europe, and probably most places where frozen blueberries are available. That is the only part of her argument that was most definitely wrong. Everything else is subjective or depends on the specific brand of blueberries or even the time of year.

  • The reason she claims frozen blueberries are rotten are due to the color. She says that since Fresh blueberries take on the appearance of a light navy blue color, that since frozen ones have a much darker appearance that they are certainly rotten; a claim I was very skeptical of – yuritsuki Mar 1 '15 at 3:16
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    @thinlyveiledquestionmark Are you using the word rotten literally? Because frozen blueberries are never rotten. – Catija Mar 1 '15 at 3:18
  • Not me, my wife uses rotten, at least I think, in the literal sense – yuritsuki Mar 1 '15 at 3:34
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    @thinlyveiledquestionmark Frozen blueberries are in no way rotten. As Johanna pointed out, freezing them breaks down the cell walls of the berries, releasing the juices and making the berries squishier and more likely to bleed their color into the surrounding batter. – Catija Mar 1 '15 at 3:37
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    I think as far as colour goes a good example is grapes and wine. If you think about a red grape the inside is green. If you then squish them up and strain them you get rose wine (only a little of the pigment has infused with the juice) however leave the skins in and leave it a little longer (which is happening in the freezer with your blueberries) you get deep purple red wine.( I know that's a very over simplified example of making wine.) If you were to squish your fresh blueberries up and leave them a day you would get the same colour effect as using frozen. – Doug Mar 1 '15 at 10:46

A really big difference for muffins is that if you use frozen blueberries, many, if not most, of the berries will have burst. Even if you strain them (which you will pretty much have to do), you will have purple muffins. Personally, that doesn't bother me at all. Blueberry season is very short, I'd rather use frozen (or canned) blueberries than out-of-season ones.

Save the juice for drinking, or syrup making.

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