Blueberries are related to bilberries and cranberries. They were cultivated for the first time in the beginning of the 20th century and grown commercially starting in 1916 in the United States.
Blueberries are among the richest sources of antioxidants around. The blue color comes from the high level of the water soluble, antioxidant pigment called anthocyanin, which imparts colors ranging from blues to reds. These anthocyanins are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that benefit the body, gut, and brain, making them a great addition to a get you going breakfast smoothie or cereal.
The dusty film on your berries is called a “bloom.” It forms naturally and helps protect the berries from the sun while they grow.
When ripe, blueberries will have a sweet/tart flavor. The riper they are, the sweeter they’ll be. To ripen up any blueberries that aren’t quite ready yet, stick them in a bag with an apple.
Because blueberries are high in natural pectin, they are perfect for making jam and sauces.
When adding blueberries to baked goods, add them in last and minimize stirring to keep them from breaking and turning your batter purple. Also, alkaline baking soda can sometimes cause blueberries to fade to a brownish green color because of a chemical reaction. Remedy this situation by ditching the more acidic yogurt or buttermilk in a recipe for regular milk, and use baking powder instead of baking soda to keep the recipe balanced and keep your blueberries blue. To the other extreme, berries will turn reddish when exposed to acids, like lemon or vinegar.
Add blueberries to your next salad, smoothie, fruit salsa, yogurt, ice cream or simply enjoy them all by themselves.
Leave berries unwashed until you are ready to use them. Keep unwashed berries in a colander in the refrigerator, this allows the cool air to circulate around them. They will keep in the fridge for a week to ten days.
To freeze your berries for out of season pies and more, lay them out unwashed in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Store in freezer bags and pull some out whenever you want.