Have you ever eaten wild blueberries straight from the blueberry bush? This time of year in Maine is blueberry season. In fact, Maine produces the largest quantity of blueberries in the world. The hills are painted with speckles of purple-blue berries that taste unlike any blueberry you’ve ever eaten.
I’ve taken the drive to Southwest Harbor, Maine with my husband, the girls, and our labrador retriever to stock up on pints of blueberries that we then freeze for summer smoothies and winter berry pancakes.
Blueberries are a popular health food, and for good reason. They are rich in health-benefiting vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants. Over 30 different species of blueberries exist, each having a slightly different nutritional profile.
The incredible health benefits of blueberries include:
- Blueberries are #1 in anti-oxidant activity, meaning they are very high in anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting properties
- They’re a popular remedy for both diarrhea and constipation
- Their low glycemic index makes them great for diabetics and blood sugar control
- Help to protect the brain from degenerative age-related diseases
- Support healthy vision, especially night vision
- Support urinary health, helping to prevent urinary tract infections
Buying and Storing Blueberries:
Blueberries cultivated in the US are available May through October. The peak of the harvest season is July, National Blueberry Month (although we’ve always picked in August without a problem).
When selecting blueberries, choose fully ripe ones. They’ll be deep blue in color and firm to the touch. Shake the container firmly to determine ripeness, ripe berries will move around the container freely. Blueberries are #11 in the Dirty Dozen, Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce. In other words, buy these organic.
Refrigerate blueberries to increase their storage life. They’ll remain fresh for up to 3 days.
To prevent berries from getting mushy, wait to wash them until right before using.
Quick Serving Ideas:
- Enjoy fresh blueberries with yogurt and 1 tbsp walnuts
- Add blueberries to breakfast cereals and oatmeal
- Toss them into a smoothie, or try my favorite smoothie with berries
- Top your favorite tart with blueberries, or try my Whipped Berry Tart here.
- Make a blueberry pie! You’ll need an average of 4 cups of berries.
Your Simple Action Plan:
Add blueberries to your shopping list this week. Already eating them? Great! Add variety by using them in a new way.
Go to PickYourOwn.org for everything you need to know about picking the best blueberries. If you ever decide to take the trip out to Southwest Harbor, Maine, visit The Jordon Pound House for lemonade and blueberry popovers. Yum!