Blueberries are perennial flowering plants with blue or purple colored berries.
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All about blueberries
Blueberries are native of North America, and grow usually in prostrate shrubs, both the wild (‘low bush’) and cultivated (‘high bush’) varieties.
The high bush varieties were introduced into Europe in the 1930’s.
The blueberries are classified in the section Cyanococcus, within the genus Vaccinium.
Vaccinium also includes cranberries, bilberries,huckleberries and Madeira blueberries.
They grow as prostrate shrubs usually.The leaves are either deciduous or evergreen, their flowers are bell shaped white ,pink or red.The fruit is a berry usually5-15mm in a diameter, with a flared crown at the end.They are pale greenish at first, then reddish purple & finally dark purple when ripe.They are covered in a protective coating of powdery epicuticular wax, colloquially known as the “bloom”.
They are sweet to taste when mature, with variable acidity that gives them the tartness.
They typically bear fruit in the middle of the growing season. Peak of the crop, in the northern hemisphere, can vary from May to August ( also influenced by local conditions like altitude & latitude)
How to pick/choose blueberries
- If growing in your garden, best time to pick is early in the morning when they are in the peak sweetness ,before heat builds up in the fruit.
- Let your berries ripen on the bush. It is not a good idea to pick berries early.Reddish blueberries aren’t ripe, and won’t ripen once they are picked but you can use them in cooking.
- Once picked, don’t place the berries, still warm from the sun, in a closed bag or container.
- Don’t wash berries until just before using, to prevent berries from becoming mushy.
- Chill berries soon after picking to increase shelf life.
- Freeze berries in freezer containers without washing to keep the skins from toughening.
- Size isn’t an indicator of maturity but color is – berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black.
- Avoid blueberries that look soft or shriveled or have any signs of mold.
How to store blueberries
- Sort the moldy blueberries from the fresh ones.
- To avoid bitterness in taste, pull off any remaining stems.
- Do not wash berries until you are ready to eat them.When you are ready, consider rinsing the blueberries with one part vinegar and three parts water to kill any existing mold spores.
How to prepare recipes with blueberries
When it comes to enjoying blueberries, they are super versatile. They’re delicious fresh or frozen. One can consume them in :
Health benefits of Blueberries
These little blueberries pack a mighty punch, so do not be fooled by the size. They are listed among the superfoods for a reason. They have innumerable health benefits.
- They are filled with antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
- They are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fiber.
- They contain large amounts of phytochemicals (anthocyanins) which give the berries their color.These anthocyanins are supposed to play a major role in inhibiting tumor growth and reducing inflammation.
- Since they are free of sodium, these berries help lower blood pressure.
- The antioxidants in blueberries are strongly linked to reduced levels of oxidized LDL, thus making them heart healthy.
- Blueberries help maintain brain function and improve memory.
- They are rich in Vitamin C, B6 and folate.
- The anthocyanins in the blueberries help manage diabetes .
- They help prevent Urinary tract infections due to their anti adhesive property which prevent bacteria like E. coli from binding to the wall of our bladder.
- They help in reducing muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise(which is usually caused by local inflammation and reduced muscle performance)
Links to our berry recipes
Some of the links to my published posts on berries are listed below for your interest :
- Blueberry Banana Chia Smoothie
- Blueberries| How to pick, store and use them
- Eggless Blueberry Muffins
- Cranberry Rasam/Soup
- Cranberry Relish/Spicy Thokku
- Raspberry Avocado Chocolate Cake
- Strawberries | How to choose, store and use them
- Strawberry Mint Smoothie
- Strawberry Nutella Thumbprint Cookies
- Strawberry cupcakes
- Strawberry Glazed Mini-Donuts
- Strawberry Coconut Rava Laddoos
The Bottom Line
Share with us in the comments below how you used them in your recipes! We would love to hear it!