No convincing is necessary to have your family snacking on blueberries, just like they would popcorn. This is good news since eating theses low in calories, flavourful fruits daily translates into nutritious power!
With flavours that range from mildly sweet to tart and tangy, blueberries grow in clusters. The skin’s colour ranges from blue to maroon to purple-black, emphasized by a white-gray waxy coating, acting as a protective coat. The flesh is semi-transparent with the tiniest of seeds.
HOW TO CHOOSE
With local crops to spoil us with the freshest of blueberries, they are at their best in the summer months, beginning mid July. Ralph’s can get this fruit as an import throughout the year.
Choose blueberries that are firm, plump, and have a lively, uniform dark hue coloured with a whitish powder bloom. Gently giggle the container to see if the berries tend to move freely; if they do not, some berries may be soft and damaged or mouldy. Also, the berries should be free from moisture since water may cause decay.
Sort through and discard any damaged berries to prevent the spread of mould. Store berries unwashed until right before eating as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries’ skins from degradation. Arrange unwashed on paper towel, in a shallow moisture proof container in the refrigerator where they will keep for about a week, although they will be freshest if consumed within a few days if not immediately. As a cautionary note, keeping out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.
To Freeze For longer storage, freeze berries up to a year, although this will slightly change their texture and flavour. Before freezing, wash, drain, and gently pat berries. Once air-dried, ensure uniform texture upon thawing by spreading the berries out on a cookie sheet, place in the freezer until frozen, then put the berries in a sealed container or zip-lock plastic bag for storage in the freezer.
In order to keep the berries’ protective bloom in tact as long as possible, wash berries just prior. Discard mushy, shrivelled, or mouldy berries. Fresh berries are very fragile and should be washed in a very careful and brief manner. Gently pat dry.
Blueberries are a versatile fruit. They can be eaten fresh and raw, dried, frozen, and even cooked as a compliment to breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner and dessert! Thankfully, cooking does not seem to reduce their antioxidant power. However, they should be eaten while warm because cooling will affect the beneficial properties of the antioxidants.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Can be juiced. Add frozen blueberries to your breakfast shake or smoothie.
- Fresh or dried blueberries add colourful interest to cold breakfast cereals, yogurt, or granola, or cereal.
- Serve up blueberry waffles, pancakes, or muffins.
- Eat them frozen, fresh or dried as a snack (great for lunchboxes too!)
- Toss them in a salad
- Make a sauce over fish or chicken.
- Top a tart or cake with them as a decorative garnish
- Serve them over ice cream.
- For a deliciously elegant dessert, layer yogurt and blueberries in wine glasses and top with crystallized ginger.
- Bake the classic favourites: a healthy blueberry pie, crumble, and cobbler.
When using frozen berries in recipes that do not require cooking, thaw well and drain prior to using. For cooked recipes, do not thaw berries since this will ensure maximum flavour. Lengthen the cooking time a few minutes to accommodate for the frozen berries.
- You may notice that berries used in baked products may take on a green colour. This is an edible, natural reaction of their anthocyanidin pigments.
- If baking, dust the fresh berries with flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom.
Wow! A mere one-half cup of blueberries offer as much antioxidant value as FIVE SERVINGS of peas, carrots, apples, squash, or broccoli. It is recommended to add one-half cup of blueberries to your diet every day! Research has shown that blueberries rate the highest in their ability to destroy free radicals. In a nutshell, blueberries are phytonutrient superstars! These fruits contain anthocyanadins, an antioxidant compound given to blue, purple, and red fruits and vegetables. In addition, blueberries also contain ellagic acid, another phytochemical that has been shown to prevent cell damage.
Lower on the glycemic index than other fruits, blueberries offer Vitamin C, fibre, folic acid and a powerful antioxidant.
Blueberries (raw), 50 berries (68g)
Total Fat: 0.26g
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value, based upon United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the USDA Recommended Daily Value. Nutritional information and daily nutritional guidelines may vary in different countries. Please consult the appropriate organization in your country for specific nutritional values and the recommended daily guidelines.
- Blueberries are native to North America where they can be found growing wild in the forests and mountains of the United States and Canada. In contrast, it is very rare to find them in Europe and only recently introduced in Australia.
- It was a main ingredient in North American Indian food, like the traditional dish called pemmican, involving blueberries and dried meat.
- The colonists did not show great interest until the mid-19th century when sugar became more widely available. Before then, people did not appreciate the blueberries tart flavour.
- Blueberries were not commercially available until 1916.