Blueberries are so high in nutrition and culinarily versatile that you could include them in every meal. And the conclusions from some of the more recent research from USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists are that you should be including them and other high antioxidant foods in every meal so your bodies can metabolize and absorb those phytochemicals that prevent free radicals from attacking our cells.
In Georgia we are fortunate to have them available across the state fresh from orchards, backyards or in the wild from spring into late summer. We can still be enjoying them long after the last harvest because they are easily frozen, canned or dried in volume for consumption. Whether fresh from the bush or straight from the freezer, you can fold a few into your batter, throw some into the blender, toss them in your green salad, sprinkle them over your fruit salad or feature them as the star attraction in a recipe.
Your imagination can take you beyond the muffins, pancakes and smoothies when you consider that a one-cup serving for adults under the FDA label references is only 80 calories and the anthocyanins that make blueberries blue also provide some of their high antioxidant quality, according to USDA research. Just how many naturally blue fruits and vegetables can you find for your rainbow diet and ones packed with vitamins and fiber?
Preparing blueberries for storage, freezing and using them in recipes can start a long and involved debate among cooks and chefs. Most agree that fresh blueberries should be washed just before using. Wash/don’t wash before freezing? Many claim that washing them before freezing causes the skins to toughen. Others say that even if you don’t wash them, the skins toughen when frozen. Whether you wash them or don’t wash them, they should be dry, then spread out in a single layer on a surface such as a cookie sheet and put into the freezer. Place the individually frozen berries into zip-lock bags or freezer containers.
If you are among the non-wash-before-freezing clan, take the frozen berries straight to rinse and dry quickly before adding them to a recipe such as a batter. To avoid having berries sink to the bottom of a pan during baking coat with a bit of cornstarch or flour before folding into a batter. Fold the berries in last and keep berries frozen until the time to add them to your batter. Or pour in part of the batter into the pan before adding the blueberries. Sometimes the batter is just too thin to support the fruit.
When you get out the blueberry recipes, remember to adjust them to accommodate today’s knowledge of nutritional value and cut back on the sugar and fat as much as possible. Most recipes call for too much sugar for the natural taste of blueberries and entirely too much of several unhealthy fat sources.