Blueberries – Antioxidant Darlings
Marty Martindale

High on the antioxidant list, fresh or frozen, uncooked blueberries, eaten in sufficient amounts, can be quite healthful. Marketers now offer blueberry tortillas, blueberry wine, blueberry beer-larger or ale, blueberry barbecue sauce and blueberry tea made with dried blueberries. North America is not the only country making this berry popular. The Japanese have jumped on the blueberry bandwagon in a big, big way. These large importers market blueberry juice, blueberry health drinks, blueberry chocolate bars and more. Additionally, many take blueberry pills, they feel, to improve their eyesight.

Historically, blueberries, along with cranberries and concord grapes are native North American berries. The blueberry belongs to the unlikely azalea and rhododendron family. Native Americans cherished the berries as a medicinal ingredient over 13,000 years ago. Shamen brewed the roots of the blueberry bush for a liquid helpful during childbirth and blood purification.

The cultivated, or high-bush, blueberry is a relatively new product first available in the early 1900s. These bushes can grow up to 15 feet, and they’re easier to harvest. Today, over 200 million pounds of these blueberries are grown in North America, 66 percent of them in Michigan and New Jersey. North America is the world’s leading blueberry producer, accounting for nearly 90% of world production.

The original low-bush blueberries grow to only about one foot in height; they’re more difficult to harvest and thrive in Canada and the northern United States. These blueberries are smaller and considered more delicious, sweeter, deeper in color and prized by bakers for their ability to maintain their form during baking. They’re only grown in Maine and Canada.

Blueberries are high in vitamin C, fiber, folate. They are credited with combating digestive disturbances, certain blood level disorders, early aging, eyesight loss, cancer and memory loss. They are cholesterol and fat free.
Always choose firm blueberries, uniform in size, indigo blue in coloring with a silvery frost. Discard shriveled or moldy berries. Store in a moisture-proof container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To freeze, place one layer of berries on sheet pan, place in freezer and bag  Do not wash fresh, frozen or dried blueberries until just before serving.

Serving suggestions:

Use blueberries in baked goods, jams, pies, curries, pancakes, soups, stews and salads.
Stir into kasha, wild rice, or other grains.
Accents for blueberries are cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, candied ginger, mace, nutmeg, vanilla or fresh herbs like cilantro,  mint and basil. .
Combine with dairy products such as cottage cheese, frozen yogurt, sour cream, heavy cream, ricotta cheese, Brie or goat cheese.
Experiment with combining blueberries and salty snacks, savory dishes, as well as sweet courses.
Make blueberry shortcake and top with Mascarpone.
Make blueberry smoothies, combine berries with other fruits and juices in blender.

Some links for more recipes: