From Florida to Canada, this versatile gem is harvested starting in early spring through late October. While many of us grew up with blueberry pies and muffins, we can now find them in a wide array of products including yogurt, smoothies, salads, breakfast cereal and even trail mix. They are related to the wild huckleberry and grow particularly well in the northeast (especially Maine). Out of season, they are imported from New Zealand, Australia, and South America. In addition, they are also available preserved, dried, frozen, processed, and canned.
Research continues to illuminate the many virtues of this humble little fruit. As an antioxidant, it packs a super punch and is believed to help protect blood vessels. Highly nutritious and low in calories and sodium, they have high amounts of potassium, fiber and vitamin C.
And what to do with them? Just about anything! Add them frozen or fresh (some people swear by frozen as the best) to baked goods such as pies, cakes, crumbles, muffins and bars, or perk things up as a flavored vinegar. Sprinkle fresh berries over salads, add to sauces for roasted meats…your only limitation is your imagination. They are available year round in grocery stores, and fresh locally grown berries are available through your favorite farmer’s market.
Look for silvery deep blue fruit and by picking them over, check to make sure there are no mushy ones and that there is no mold. Don’t wash them until ready to use. Line a container with a paper towel to reduce moisture and cover with lid or plastic wrap and store in the fridge. They could last up to 10 days.
Image: Microsoft Corporation
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