Blueberries are perennial flowering plants with indigo-colored berries that grow on shrubs that can vary in size from 10cm to 4m in height. In the commercial production of blueberries, the smaller species are known as ‘lowbush blueberries’ (also known as ‘wild’), while the larger species are known as ‘highbush blueberries’.
Blueberries are native to North America although many species of blueberries are now grown commercially in the Southern Hemisphere in Australia, New Zealand and South American nations.
The hardy lowbush blueberry plants thrive in Canada and the northern United Staes.
In 1976, the highbush berries began to be cultivated in Ontario.
Blueberries may be cultivated, or they may be picked from semiwild or wild bushes. In North America, the most common cultivated species is the northern highbush blueberry. Hybrids of this with other blueberry species adapted to southern US climates are known collectively as southern highbush blueberries.
Lowbush (‘wild’) blueberries are smaller than cultivated highbush ones and have an intense colour. The lowbush blueberry, “V. angustifolium”, is found from the Atlantic provinces westward to Quebec and southward to Michigan and West Virginia.
In 2014, the top 3 blueberry producers (in volume) were:
- United States of America
1 serving of bluberries = ½ cup (approximately 80 g)
- contains approximately 45 calories
- source of Fibre and Vitamin C
BUYING AND STORING
- Choose blueberries that are indigo blue with a silvery frost, firm to the touch, sweet smelling and uniform in size
- Check for signs of mould or mildew and avoid boxes with shriveled and/or crushed blueberries
- Purchase smaller lowbush blueberries as fresh as possible
- Do not wash blueberries until you’re ready to use them
- Store blueberries (preferably in a single layer) in a moistureproof container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days
- Blueberries freeze well if you lay them in a single layer
- baked into pies, muffins, cakes, pancakes and other baked goods
- added to salads
- made into jams and jellies
- eaten raw
- blended into smoothoes
- Blueberries freeze in just 10 minutes.
- Blueberries are native to North America where they grow throughout the woods & mountainous regions in the USA & Canada.
- Blueberries grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble.
- The white, powdery substance on blueberries is called “bloom.” Bloom indicates fresh berries.
- It is thought early American colonists boiled blueberries in milk to make grey paint.
- Wikipedia (September 2017). Blueberry. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/blueberry
- Foodland Ontario. (September 2017) Blueberries. Retrieved from https://www.ontario.ca/foodland/food/blueberries
- Canadian Produce Marketing Association. Nutrition Facts. Retrieved from http://www.cpma.ca/pdf/HealthNutrition/NFTENJuly2016.pdf
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FAOSTAT Data. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data
- Tyler Herbst, Sharon. (2001). The New Food Lover’s Companion (3rd ed.). New York: Barron’s Educational Series.