Silly Food Fact
Blueberries are a true North American fruit. Wild blueberries grow only here, and North America produces 90% of the world’s blueberries. The early American colonists even created gray “paint” by boiling blueberries in milk! Today, wild blueberries are called lowbush, while commercial species are highbush. Maine produces 25% of all lowbush berries, and Michigan dominates the highbush market. In Canada, blueberries occupy half of all fruit acreage.
Why Our Bodies Love It
A blue ribbon goes to blueberries for their antioxidant properties: #1 among all fresh fruits! Just one cup of blueberries gives you all the disease-fighting antioxidants needed in a single day. Many studies support the value of blueberries for combating cancer, reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol, and improving memory function.
Care and Picking
Blueberries grow on bushes, ideally planted in acidic soil with excellent drainage. Full sun is preferred, but up to 50% shade is acceptable. Pale flowers produce tiny berries—first pale green, then reddish, and finally a dark blue. If the berry has even a hint of red, it isn’t fully ripe. Blueberry bushes have few natural pests, but watch out for birds that love to swoop down and pluck the berries!
Using netting to keep birds from blueberries.
Tips and Warnings
After picking blueberries, be sure to keep the berries in an open container to provide air circulation. It is best to refrigerate berries, ensuring that your blueberries will last at least a week. Wash right before using to keep berries from getting mushy. Blueberries are a super easy fruit to prepare and serve: no peeling, pitting, coring, or cutting. Freezing is simple—place unwashed berries on a large, rimmed cookie sheet, freeze until firm, and pour into containers or zip-bags. Right before using, rinse in cold water.