Blueberries ... did you know !

Blueberries ... did you know !

Blueberries, in the popular press, blueberries have reached superstar status in terms of their unique health benefits, and with flavours that range from mildly sweet (cultivated) to tart and tangy (wild), blueberries are nutritional stars bursting with nutrition and flavour while being very low in calories.
Blueberries are the fruits of a shrub that belong to the heath (Ericaceae) family. They grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble. They are deep in colour, ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-gray waxy "bloom" that covers the berry's surface and serves as a protective coat. The skin surrounds a semi-transparent flesh that encases tiny seeds. Blueberries are at their best from May through October when they are in season.


History
Blueberries hold a special place in the foods of North America, since more species of blueberries are native to North America than any other continent. While low-bush berries are native to other parts of the world — including Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia — high-bush berries were originally found almost exclusively in North America. To this day, the United States cultivates and supplies over half of all blueberries on a global basis. The next largest percentage of world production — about 30% — also belongs to a North American country, Canada.

Cultivation of blueberries was widespread among the Native American tribes throughout North America. European colonists learned about blueberries thanks to these Native American traditions and brought blueberry species back to Europe. Yet commercial cultivation of blueberries in Europe has been a relatively recent phenomenon limited to the 20th and 21st centuries. Thanks to increasing cultivation in the Southern Hemisphere — including South American countries such as Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay as well South Africa, New Zealand and Australia — fresh blueberries are now enjoyed throughout the year on many of the world's continents.

How to Select and Store
Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform hue coloured with a whitish bloom. Shake the container, noticing whether the berries have the tendency to move freely; if they do not, this may indicate that they are soft and damaged or moldy. Avoid berries that appear dull in color or are soft and watery in texture. They should be free from moisture since the presence of water will cause the berries to decay. When purchasing frozen berries, shake the bag gently to ensure that the berries move freely and are not clumped together, which may suggest that they have been thawed and refrozen.

Before storing remove any crushed or moldy berries to prevent the rest from spoiling. Don't wash berries until right before eating as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries' skins from degradation. Store ripe blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to 3 days. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.

Ripe berries can also be frozen, although this will slightly change their texture and flavour. Before freezing, wash, drain and remove any damaged berries. To better ensure uniform texture upon thawing, spread the berries out on a cookie sheet or baking pan, place in the freezer until frozen, then put the berries in a plastic bag for storage in the freezer.

Tips for Preparing Blueberries
Fresh berries are very fragile and should be washed briefly and carefully and then gently patted dry if they are not organic. Wash berries just prior to use to not prematurely remove the protective bloom that resides on the skin's surface. If you know the source of either wild or organic berries try not to wash them at all.

When using frozen berries in recipes that do not require cooking, thaw well and drain prior to using.

Blueberries retain their maximum amount of nutrients and their maximum taste when they are enjoyed fresh and not prepared in a cooked recipe.

Do you like blueberries?  Eddie and I enjoy them simply served with double (heavy) cream. 

You may like to try this recipe
Blueberry and Cinnamon Omelette, it's low carb, see it here


This blog brings a variety of articles and recipe ideas, and it is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health, it is always advisable to consult your doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan
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