Hello my dear readers,
I hope you all are ok. Today let’s discover another staple of our food, let’s discover the blueberries.
Blueberry, forest fruit among the most greedy and healthy, in the scientific world it is known by the name of Vaccinium Myrtillus from Ericaceae family, has ancient origins and is used to treat various pathologies.
Unknown in ancient Mediterranean civilizations, it is found in mountain areas, in the woods where the soil is rich in humus.
Blueberry cultivation was widespread among Native American tribes. European settlers learned about the cultivation and use of blueberries from Native American traditions, bringing this species to Europe. Commercial blueberry cultivation in Europe was a relatively recent phenomenon around the twentieth century.
Blueberries are not “foods” to be eaten one by one, but in handfuls, and one is not satisfied until when the tongue, lips and hands have turned to a Tuareg blue.
Blueberries are the best pretext to gather in happy company and go singing in the mountains, and yes, I did it too when I was a kid.
It is, so to speak, a “social” fruit.
In the summer tradition of the mountains, there was “blueberry Sunday”, a day dedicated to frivolity, when young men and girls with buckets had to pick the fruits, but instead dedicated themselves to flirting and dancing. Those who collected the blueberries were the mothers, who then used them to make jams.
I had the great opportunity in my childhood to join these group of young men and girls picking blueberries and I had a wonderful and happy time.
The taste of the fruit is sweet-sour, the spontaneous ones have more accentuated aroma and acidity.
In general, the fruits can be black, red and blue, and in all three cases they represent a source of food but are used also as a medicine.
Blueberry, as a spontaneous plant in the northern hemisphere has about 130 species.
According to some recent research, these small berries are equipped with a huge amount of antioxidants, which are therefore able to prevent cardiovascular diseases, protect against tumors and delay the natural ageing process.
Blueberries are the elixir of a long life. A thousand properties in a small fruit.
Vaccinium myrtillus is a small shrub with erect and branched stems. The leaves have a short petiole while the flowers, which bloom in spring, are pendulous and white. The fruit is a blue berry with a slightly acidic flavor.
Blueberries are on the market all year round. Out of season, both fresh and frozen are found.
The species that is most suitable for cultivation is the American Blueberry.
Blueberry is a plant that resists winter cold well even if frosts can ruin flowers and berries. It is therefore advisable to grow it in a place sheltered from the weather, while in summer it is good to avoid exposure to direct sun as the blueberry roots are very sensitive to drought.
The soil must be well drained to avoid water stagnation, free of weeds and have an acid pH (about 5). Since it is difficult to grow blueberries from seeds, it is recommended to take the seedlings in a nursery and then transplant them into a larger pot or in the garden.
The best time to buy seedlings is towards the end of autumn, to then be transplanted in early spring.
During fruiting, which runs from March to October, the blueberry needs regular watering, making sure that the soil is dry between one irrigation and another. The berries are harvested during the summer season when they turn purple / dark red in color.
In North America the cultivation of the giant blueberry has assumed truly respectable proportions and it is estimated that the blueberries cover an area of over eight thousand hectares with an average annual production that exceeds three hundred thousand quintals and with a proceeds that oscillates around 20 million dollars / US .
For some time the cultivation of the giant blueberry has been introduced in New Zealand and Australia. In Europe the largest blueberries are found in Germany (about 700 hectares) in the moors located between Hanover and Hamburg. In Italy, blueberry crops do not exceed ten hectares by far, while they could extend to much wider territories, including hilly areas, now partially abandoned.
How to choose blueberries
If you do not have the opportunity to harvest them directly from the plant, when you buy them in the supermarket or from the greengrocer you have to choose blueberries with firm and bright blue berries.
How to store blueberries
Before washing and storing blueberries, it is necessary to eliminate those that are too soft which could generate mold.
Before washing, it is recommended to remove the remains of the stalk which has a bitter taste.
Blueberries can be stored although it is preferable to wash and consume them at the moment.
If you want to keep the blueberries in the refrigerator, I recommend keeping them in the tray in which they were sold or in a basket that has holes to allow the passage of air. After that you need to put a paper towel on the bottom to absorb the excessive humidity. Blueberries are kept in the refrigerator for about five days in the intermediate or low shelf. Better to avoid the top one, too cold.
Storage in the freezer
Another method of storing blueberries and having them available at any time of the year is to freeze them. It is necessary to put the fruits in the freezer on a tray avoiding that they touch each other. After about three hours they can be put in a hermetically sealed freezer bag. They can be kept in the freezer for about a year.
And because this post is becoming too long, I’ll stop here for now but stay tuned to see how to eat the blueberries and what benefits brings to our body.
Thank you all for reading.
And if you would like to discover more about our food, you may enjoy my previous posts
Wish you a wonderful day!
And please stay at home and stay safe!