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Blueberries

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Tiny purple nuggets of nutrients, blueberries are enjoyed many different ways. Find out why you should make blueberries a permanent part of your diet.

The Basics

  • The North American blueberry harvest runs from mid-April through early October, with peak harvest mid-May to August. North America is the world’s leading blueberry producer, accounting for nearly 90% of world production.

  • Fresh blueberries are on the market from May through September.

  • Wild blueberries are smaller in size compared to their cultivated cousins.

  • Nearly half of the cultivated blueberries grown are sold as fresh blueberries. Fresh blueberries are available for nearly eight months of the year from producers across the United States and Canada.

  • A dark blue color with a silvery bloom is the best indication of quality. This silver, powdery bloom is a natural, protective, waxy coating, which tends to last longer than other berry varieties.

  • Buy blueberries that are plump, firm, uniform in size, dry, smooth-skinned, and free from stems or leaves.

  • Blueberries have many soft, tiny almost unnoticeable seeds.

  • Berries should be deep-purple blue to blue-black; reddish berries aren’t ripe but can be used in cooking. Avoid soft, mushy, or leaking berries.

  • Refrigerate blueberries as quickly as possible and keep them dry. Do not wash until you are ready to use them. They will last for up to 2 weeks if stored properly.

Nutritional Benefits

  • Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin C and contain significant quantities of both antibacterial and antiviral compounds.

  • They have a reputation in northern Europe of fighting infections and may also help protect against heart disease.

Cooking Tips

  • Blueberries tend to change color during cooking. Acids, like lemon juice and vinegar, make the blue in blueberries turn red. In an alkaline environment, such as a batter with too much baking soda, the blueberries may turn greenish-blue.

 

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