Everything to Know About Cooking and Shopping for In Season Blueberries

Sandra

Contributor

The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we’ll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To market, we go!

Deep indigo spheres with a sweet-sour taste—you’ve likely come to know blueberries pretty well over the years, finding various baked goods studded with them, sweet purplish jellies or jams, or as plump additions in cooling summer fruit salads. But, what do you actually know about these super little berries?

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What’s your favorite blueberry recipe? Tell us in the comments and upload a picture of your berry best creation for all to enjoy!

1. Hello, My Name is Blueberry

One of the few commercially grown fruits native to North America, “American” blueberries are sold all over the world both fresh and processed, frozen, dried, or as purées, juices, jams, and even wines. The pea-sized berries have a sweet, sometimes acidic flavor that makes them just right for fruity baked goods, but are versatile enough for savory uses, too.

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Grown mostly in North and South America, Europe, and Asia, these plump berries are often mistaken for other similar species of edible berries including bilberries (also known as European blueberries), whortleberries, and huckleberries as they look nearly identical. Simply cut them in half though, and you’ll see that blueberries have a light, greenish translucent flesh, whereas the others have deep red or purple flesh throughout. They (and their lookalikes) have become more and more popular all over the globe, with cultivation having landed in countries like South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.

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While there are many different species of blueberries, the most common varieties that you’ll likely run into are lowbush (common) blueberries, highbush blueberries, and rabbiteye blueberries—although they are unlikely to be labeled as anything other than “blueberries.” Ranging in size from approx. 1-cm/⅓-in to just under ½-cm/¼-in, ripe blueberries make perfectly pop-able snacks raw, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy them, as you’ll soon see.

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2. Why You Should Buy Blueberries

Healthy blueberries are often thought of as “superfoods”, containing moderate amounts of minerals like manganese, zinc, and iron, as well as vitamins like K, C, and B6. They also known to be “packed with antioxidants” and therefore anti-inflammatory. Their nutritional value is really an added perk to this all-rounder: Blueberries are an easy to eat and versatile fruit that you should venture to use in both sweet and savory variations.

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3. When to Buy Blueberries

Blueberries are typically in season in North American from May to August, depending on local conditions. If you can't find fresh blueberries, try using bilberries as a substitute, or check your grocer's freezer aisle for frozen blueberries which, when thawed, lend the same sweet-sour flavor as their fresh counterparts to blended drinks, sauces, jellies, and certain baked goods. You can now also find dried blueberries on the market, which can be used as you would other dried berries or raisins. And then, of course, there’s blueberry jam to keep the season going all year long!

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4. How to Find the Perfect Blueberry and How to Store Them

Usually found in slim plastic containers or open paper cartons, fresh blueberries should look plump and have a firm, tight skin. They shouldn’t be packed too closely together, there should be room for them to wiggle about in the container. Store them in the fridge or wash and freeze them for later use.

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The highbush blueberry usually lasts longer but is less flavorful than the lowbush variety because they are bigger and have a thicker, more protective skin.

5. What to Make Next

All week long, we’ll be featuring new blueberry recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what’s new, then try one for yourself! Here’s where to start:

Grilled blueberry and Camembert sandwich

Grilled blueberry and Camembert sandwich

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Chicken and avocado salad with blueberry vinaigrette

Chicken and avocado salad with blueberry vinaigrette

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Blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream

Blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream

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