Did you know blueberries were once used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, as fabric dye, and as an ingredient in dried jerky? Used medicinally throughout history, these berries were used to treat coughs and mouth ulcers during the 1800s, to improve night vision during World War II, and to improve circulation.
Today we know that blueberries are delicious and nutritious, clocking in under 60 calories per cup. This antioxidant rich superfood is chock full of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin E, as well as iron, calcium and zinc. To add to their awesomeness, these little jewels pack 4 grams of fiber per serving, helping keep you fuller longer. A dessert that is naturally sweet and good for you too? Blueberries have got it going on!
How do I pick the best blueberries?
June through mid-July is the best time for blueberries. When you are choosing your blueberries, look for full, firm berries with a deep blue/gray color. Steer clear from berries that are partially white, green or slightly red as this indicates they aren’t ripe. However, berries that are already in the full-on purple, red or blue stage may continue to ripen at room temperature. To keep them from ripening further store in the fridge.
The same rules work for picking your own berries. To get the best berries off of the bushes, hold a big bowl under the section of bush you are working on and with your other hand gently rub the fruit. Those that are ripe will release from the stem and fall into your bowl, while the others will stay firmly on the stem ripening in time for your second harvest.
What can I make with blueberries?
Blueberries are a versatile fruit that often lean towards the sweet side of the kitchen. Classic uses for this bright berry includes pancakes, cobblers, muffins, scones, pies, buckles, cakes, breads, crisps, compotes and naturally, they can be enjoyed simply on their own. They also pair well with savory dishes including roasted pork, pan-seared tuna steaks, filets and corn bread. Whether fresh or frozen, their are a million ways to use these little guys.
Preparation is easy. Before use, inspect berries and trash those that are partially white or green, as well as berries that have cuts or open spots. Wash berries in a colander under warm water, drain and pat dry. Then use to your hearts desire.
Storage? Keep blueberries in an open container and chill in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life. As with most berries, only wash right before eating. Freezing is also simple. Place washed and dried berries on a baking sheet and transfer to freezer until berries are frozen solid, then transfer to a Ziplock bag. Refrigerated berries may remain fresh up to two weeks, while frozen berries will keep for up to a year!