Item Spotlight: Blueberries

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So, confession time. Until recently, I have never been a blueberry fan. *GASP* I didn’t dislike them, I  just didn’t seek them out. I have a few reasons for my ho-hum reaction to the little blue fruit. First of all,  I really never even had a real blueberry, at least one that was not in a muffin until I met my husband (who loves them) eight years ago. Second, I lived in Southern California for most of my life, there were not a lot of fresh blueberries growing in that area. Blueberries were always bought at the grocery store and seemed waxy and lacking real flavor. Then, we moved to New Jersey and everything changed.

“It’s blueberry day,” Keith said. Is that a government sanctioned event? Who declares it “Blueberry Day” in the state of Jersey? So, off we went to the Trenton Farmers’ Market to pay homage to fruit. We picked up 4 flats of blueberries, that I had to admit looked plump and juicy and cost us less than 2 from the grocery store. Then as we were driving around looking for farm stands, we happened on Wells’ Blueberry Farm, a pick your own farm.  There were blueberry bushes everywhere! It was a lot of fun and in the end we brought home over 5 pounds of blueberries! After getting them home and washing and drying them, I tried a few. WOW, the flavor was unbelievable! A perfect example of how eating locally and seasonally can change the way you see food.

Interested in picking your own blueberries? Go here.

Where are they grown: Blueberries are native to North America. In the U.S., Maine and Michigan seem to be the highest producing blueberry states. There is also considerable commercial acreage in New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Oregon and Washington also produce a lot of blueberries.

When are they grown:  The season starts in Mid-April for the southern states and moves later as you go north. The season ends in late September.

How to store: Freshly picked blueberries can last up to two weeks in the fridge. Store unwashed in a covered container. Water will cause mold quickly on stored blueberries, so you wash as you are ready to eat. They can also be frozen for up to a year. To freeze, wash and dry thoroughly, spread blueberries out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Once they are frozen, transfer to a freezer appropriate container (sealed freezer bag or airtight freezer safe jar).

How to prepare:

  • Pop those puppies straight into your mouth!
  • Add to yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta, or creme fraiche
  • Make jam/ jelly/ preserves
  • Make a blueberry balsamic reduction for meat
  • Pancakes
  • Muffins
  • Dehydrate and add to trail mix
  • Dip in chocolate or yogurt and freeze for a sweet snack in the hot summer months
  • Make a blueberry simple syrup and add to coctails and lemonade
  • Make wine? My grandma used to make a super strong blackberry wine, I bet blueberry wine would be dangerously good!

What do you do with blueberries?

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