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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Berries are the gem of summer and the ingredient that many of our summer desserts
might be made from. Think smoothies, pies, cakes, muffins, parfaits, cobblers, and
even just eaten plain. Blueberries are full of antioxidants which protect the body
from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Many experts believe
this damage is a factor in the development of blood vessel disease (atherosclerosis),
cancer, and other conditions.
It is believed that blueberries contain more antioxidants than 40 other common fruits
Eating one cup of wild blueberries will provide 13,427 total antioxidants, about 10
times the USDA's recommendation. In comparison, those we get locally from u-pick farms will give you 9,019 antioxidants
Researchers are finding that blueberries contain an antioxidant thought to be important
for preserving brain function. Anthocyanin, found in the intensely blue pigment of
the fruit, is said to contain the antioxidants that help protect against many types
of cancer as well as heart disease, dementia and type 2 diabetes, to name a few.
In fact, just one serving of blueberries can provide as many antioxidants as five
servings of carrots, apples, broccoli, or squash. A one cup serving has only 82 calories,
4 grams of dietary fiber, are low in sodium, and contain 30 percent of the Recommended
Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C.
We are lucky to have blueberries at the farmers market or you may want to make it
a family affair and visit one of the u-pick blueberry farms in our area. At these
farms, you and your family can pick fresh berries from the tree. According to one
local grower, we should be able to pick until about the middle of July.
When you and your family head to the farm to pick your blueberries, or pick them up
at the farmers market, look for those that are plump and firm with a light silvery
“bloom.” This bloom is a natural protective wax on the berries.
Leave those that are red on the tree to ripen longer.
Due to their fragile state, they must be refrigerated immediately after harvest. Store
them in a container with a loose cover, or cover slightly with plastic wrap. Depending
upon the initial freshness of the berries, they can be stored in the refrigerator
from 2 days to 1 week.
Resist the urge to wash berries prior to storing them. Moisture from washing allows
mold to grow. Instead, wash them just before you use them. If you are going to freeze
them for later use, spread them in a single layer on a jelly roll pan and place in
the freezer. After they are frozen, remove them and pack into freezer bags or containers.
If you properly store your berries, you will be able to prepare them in numerous ways
later. Gently wash them in cold water just prior to using. To remove all the excess
water, drain them in a colander, or spread on paper towels to dry.
Freezing blueberries will allow you to have them long after they have gone out of
season. I use my frozen blueberries to make jam in the winter months, blueberry muffins,
pound cake, in morning oatmeal, salads and just out of the bowl.
Click on the following links to get your free copy of Enjoy Arkansas’ Fresh Blueberries which contains nutritional information as well as recipes. We also have free publications
on how to can, freeze (Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Fruit and Fruit Products), and make jams and jellies from fresh blueberries (Preparing and Canning Jams and Jellies). Or you may call our office at 870-779-3609 for your copy.
I have shared this recipe before; it is one of my favorites. This is one recipe that
works best using real butter instead of margarine in the recipe.