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Blueberry

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The blueberry, sometimes referred to as the star berry, is native to North America. Blueberries are called "antioxident kings". They contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than almost any other fruit or vegetable.

Blueberries have been gathered and eaten for centuries by native Americans. The term "star berry" comes from the fact that the calyx of each berry, the calyx, forms the shape of a five-pointed star. The elders of the American tribes narrate tales of how the Great Spirit sent "star berries" during a famine. The juice of the berry also makes a good Natural Dye and was used for dyeing baskets and cloth. Dried blueberries were also added to meat and to various other food preparations like soups and stews.

Blueberries are grown mostly in the Northern United States and in Canada. They can also be found in some parts of Europe and Australia. There are several varieties of blueberries and they vary in taste and size. Blueberry bushes are low bushes though some varieties can grow as high as 6 feet.Blueberries are dark blue and have a smooth outer skin with a waxy coating that is called bloom. They have a sweet taste and contain soft seeds. The best tasting blueberries are the wild berries. Cultivated blueberries are much larger in size as compared to wild berries but they do not have the same taste or flavor.

Contents

[edit] Blueberries and Health

Blueberries have long been used for medicinal purposes. The Russians used them to cure flux and other abdominal problems. Native Americans used the leaves to make a tea that acted as a relaxant during childbirth and was considered to be good for the blood. Blueberry juice was used to treat coughs and also anaemia because of its high iron content.

Pilots of the British Royal Air Force belived that bilberries, which are a relatives of blueberries, improved their night vision and consumed them liberally during World War II. Studies show this was a sound theory because blueberries contain large amounts of antioxidants, bioflavonoids which are used by the rods in the eye for night vision.

Blueberries also contain antibacterial and antiviral compounds and help to fight infections as well as protect against heart disease.

[edit] Nutritional value

  • 1 cup of blueberries contains 100 calories, 1 g of fat and no Cholesterol.
  • It (one cup) contains 16% DV of fiber.
  • Blueberries are a source of vitamin A and vitamin C and folate.
  • Blueberries are very low in sodium, and high in dietary fiber and potassium.

[edit] Selection and Storage

  • Blueberries are available in the fresh form as well as canned, dried, and pureed.
  • Always choose berries that are completely blue, with no tinge of red. The waxy silver coating is a natural protectant for the berry.
  • Blueberries do not ripen once they have been harvested and must always be purchased when ripe. Check carefully for soft, watery or moldy blueberries as they will probably be overripe.
  • Blueberries should be refrigerated without washing and covered with a clear wrap. They last up to two weeks if they are freshly-picked. Washing them destroys their natural protection and hastens the process of ripening.
  • Blueberries can be frozen for later use and will be almost as juicy and bright after thawing as when in their original state. They should not be washed before freezing as this will toughen the skin.
  • To freeze they should be placed in a covered container with approximately one inch of space for expansion. Alternatively they can be packed in a syrup made with 3 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar. They should be placed in sealed containers and frozen. They can last for a year if kept frozen at 00F. Another way to preserve blueberries is to can or dry them.

[edit] Cooking

Blueberries are delicious eaten fresh but can also be used in fruit salads, pancakes, waffles, muffins, cakes, pies, ice cream, and yoghurt. They can be added to desserts or made into toppings for crêpes and cheesecake. Blueberries can also be made into jams and jellies.

[edit] Tips

  • Home grown blueberries have a lot more vitamins than store bought
  • To prevent blueberries from sinking to the bottom in a cake batter,sprinkle them with flour before adding to the batter.
  • Blueberries break up if overmixed in a batter and should be the last ingredient to be added. Broken berries also cause streaking in the batter.
  • Frozen berries should be added frozen to cake batter to prevent them from causing streaks in the batter.
  • Canned blueberries should be drained well and patted thoroughly dry with paper towels to prevent blue streaking.
  • Adding lemon juice to blueberries enhances their flavor.

[edit] Did You Know?

  • According to medical research test conducted on 60 fruits and vegetables at Tufts University, blueberries have the highest health-protective or phytochemicals content.
  • Blueberries are called "antioxident kings". They contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than almost any other fruit or vegetable
  • Japan imports almost every bottle of blueberry wine commercially produced and bottled in the United States.
  • Blueberries have been around for thousands of years and were once called “star berries” because of their star-shaped crown on the top of the berry.
  • Native Americans were the first to incorporate berries into their diets.
  • Wild bears will eat nothing except the succulent, juicy blueberries when they are in season. It has been documented that they will travel, with an empty stomach, from ten to fifteen miles per day to sniff out a blueberry patch.

[edit] References

  • Food references
  • Wild Blueberries
  • Using Blueberries in Cooking
  • About Blueberries
  • Blueberries
Discussion

Blueberries are a valuable addition to children's menus. When kids first start eating solids, they get mainly rice cereal and crackers. Blueberries taste great .... Read more inside