Blueberry Basics

Blueberry Basics

Fresh blueberries are in season from late May through early October.

Slightly tart, juicy and sweet, blueberries are a delightful snack just as they are, or use them to brighten up anything from pies to cocktails.

Choosing the best fresh blueberries is easy if you follow a few simple guidelines.

First, make sure they are dark blue with a silver/white "bloom" - avoid any that are purple or green (immature berries that haven't ripened properly).

Once you find a visually appealing pint of blueberries, pick up a few and see if they're plump and hefty for their size. When you get home, throw away any berries that are soft or squishy because they'll ruin the rest of the pint.

Don't wash your blueberries until you're ready to eat them - berries tend to absorb a lot of moisture. Here's a neat trick for cleaning them: Wash the berries in a bowl with 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. Drain them and rinse under cool running water. Next, line a salad spinner with paper towels and spin the blueberries for about 10 seconds or until the berries are completely dry.

It's best to store your blueberries in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to five days, but try not to enclose them in a drawer because the humidity will shorten their shelf life.

If you choose to freeze your blueberries, wash them and drain them thoroughly. Pat them dry and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and pop them in the icebox until they freeze through. Once the blueberries are frozen solid, you can pack them up into freezer storage bags or containers.

Besides being tasty, blueberries are a great source of vitamin C, fiber, manganese and antioxidants. Plus, a cup of blueberries has no fat and only 80 calories. Tip: 1 pint of blueberries = 2 cups.

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Photo courtesy of Thomas Pitera Photography

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