Everything You Need to Know About Blueberries
The flavour of blueberries should, and can, definitely be enjoyed year-round. Depending on whether you’re preparing blueberries in a pie or simply eating them out of hand, their flavour ranges from mildly to super sweet. These little berries also contribute to our well being with their vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre.
Throughout the year, we typically see the beautiful, plump cultivated blueberries we’re most familiar with. However, in the summer it’s easy to spot smaller wild blueberries popping up in the market.
The main difference between wild and cultivated blueberries is found in their size: cultivated blueberries are typically larger than wild blueberries. Which means, since most of a blueberry’s antioxidants and other health benefits are found in the skin, per cup there will be more skin of wild blueberries than cultivated ones, due to their size.
However, it’s important to note that both varieties of blueberries are delicious, healthy and a nutritional powerhouse that belongs in everyone’s diet.
While we love to take advantage of the short season of wild blueberries and enthusiastically devour them in the summer, we also are happy to enjoy the cultivated ones year round.
How To Select and Store Blueberries
Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform blue colour. Avoid berries that are dull in colour or soft and watery in texture (as the presence of moisture will cause them to decay).
Give the container a shake to see whether the berries move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged, or worse, moldy.
Store ripe blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator. Here, they will keep for up to three days. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.
Blueberries are extremely easy to freeze and store for future use. To do so, buy them in abundance in the summer and freeze them for a batch of Sunday blueberry pancakes or to stuff into muffins throughout the year. To freeze, wash blueberries and remove any stems and spoiled blueberries. Arrange on a clean tea towel to gently blot dry. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and flash freeze the cleaned and dried blueberries until frozen. Transfer to an airtight container and use within 8 months.
How To Prepare Blueberries
Your berries shouldn’t be washed until you are ready to eat them, as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries’ skin from spoiling. Fresh berries are very fragile. They should be washed briefly and carefully and then gently pat them dry. You can also spin them dry in salad spinner.
- Before storing, remove any crushed or moldy berries to prevent the rest from spoiling.
- Like other tender fruit, blueberries have a natural bloom or slight white coating. The plant produces this in order to protect the fruit, so wait to wash your berries until you are ready to enjoy them.
- Freeze blueberries on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Once frozen, transfer them to a re-sealable bag or container. This keeps them from sticking together.
- Add frozen blueberries to a smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes etc.
- When shopping in the store, give the container of fresh berries a shake to see whether they move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged or moldy.
- Wash your blueberries in a salad spinner to keep them intact while drying them at the same time.
Blueberries Go Well With
Produce: bananas, lemon, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mango, spinach, lemon, lime, watermelon, beets, orange, kiwi, and coconut
Herbs, Spices & Sweets: cinnamon, ginger, honey, maple syrup, nutmeg, vanilla, mint, and basil
Savoury: oatmeal, granola, almonds, walnuts, pork, cornmeal, and chicken
Dairy: cream cheese, sour cream, crème fraîche, cream, yogurt, mascarpone, goat cheese, ricotta, and buttermilk
Blueberry Serving Ideas
Everybody knows that blueberry muffins are a perfect morning food, but don’t forget that blueberry pancakes or blueberry sauce on waffles can bring breakfast to a whole new level. This vegan blueberry lemon loaf is also a great treat in the morning if you need a pick-me-up!
Blueberries are also classic in crisps and cobblers. Blueberries and lemons are a match made in heaven beneath a blanket of oat streusel or biscuits. Top with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream for a decadent spin on this dish.
Add blueberries to your favourite greens like kale or spinach and pair with some salty cheese like feta to have a delicious and complex textured salad. Grilled peaches and blueberries tossed in vinaigrette are also delicious, while this simple yet tasty blueberry, walnut, and Manchego cheese salad is great for a quick side dish.
For a spin on your traditional bruschetta, try this gorgeous blueberry and beet bruschetta at your next gathering. It will be sure to wow your guests with its striking colour and flavour.
After a long week, wind down with some blueberry mojitos. Muddle blueberries with mint to get extra flavour and a beautiful hue to your drink.
According to the Canadian Nutrient File, 1 cup (250 mL/153 g) of blueberries contain a great number of your daily-recommended intake of nutrients: 37% of Vitamin K, 25% of Vitamin C, 16% of fibre (4 g), 4% of folate, 4% of magnesium, 3% of iron, and 123 µg of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.