Blueberries are a native national treasure, and have been a big part of the American culinary scene
since Colonial times when they were used in numerous desserts. Maine supplies 98% of all wild
blueberries produced in the United States with others coming from the provinces of Quebec, New
Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Michigan and Indiana provide 40% of all cultivated blueberries grown in the
United States. The major cultivated blueberry growing areas in America are: New Jersey on the east
coast, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina in the south, and Oregon and Washington
on the west coast. Cultivated blueberries are also grown in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Selection and Storage
When buying fresh blueberries, select firm, plump berries in dry, unstained containers. The berries themselves should be free of moisture, as moisture accelerates decay. Color is the best indicator of blueberry maturity and fully developed flavor, so avoid blueberries that are green, and thus immature. Blueberries should be a deep, purple-blue to blue-black color with a silver frost. Reddish berries are not ripe, but may be used in cooking.
Once home, remove the blueberries from their container and pick through them to ferret out any rotted or unformed berries, as well as the tiny stems. Remove any soft, overripe fruit for immediate consumption and throw away any that are mushy or moldy. The remaining fruit should be blotted to remove excess water or juices and placed in a shallow plate or pan covered with plastic wrap, and then placed in the refrigerator. Blueberries will last up to ten days stored this way. To freeze blueberries, place them in a single layer on a paper towel and put in the freezer for 1 hour. Package the frozen berries in a container and they will keep frozen for up to nine months. Don't wash berries until you're ready to eat them or use them in a recipe, because they'll turn moldy and mushy.
If selected and stored properly, blueberries, like most berries, need little additional preparation except being washed prior to eating. When washing the berries, make sure to remove any stems that might remain on the blueberries. Combine blueberries with melons and tropical fruits such as mangos, papaya, pineapple, kiwifruit, and bananas to make a wonderful fruit salad. Just add a squeeze of lemon and a few drops of Triple Sec or orange liqueur to top it off.
Blueberries are also delicious in buttermilk pancakes or muffins. To accent the flavor of blueberries, add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and mace or use a topping of yogurt, sour cream, whipped cream, or crème fraiche for a nice final touch.
To bake with frozen berries, use them straight from the freezer and add them to the batter last, as defrosted berries will "bleed." Fresh berries will not bleed unless their skins are broken.
Tony's Favorite Recipe
Dairy Free Blueberry Corn Muffins
Cultivated blueberries are the variety usually found in the grocery store. They are a deep blue color
with a whitish, dusty looking skin, and are round, plump, and marble sized.
Bluecrop is the major cultivated blueberry variety.
Jersey, Tifblue, Blueray, Bluetta, Weymuth, Duke, and Elliott, are the other major varieties.
Wild blueberries are smaller and more compact with a brighter blue color than cultivated
blueberries, and many think that wild blueberries have a more intense flavor. The blueberry is closely
related to the European bilberry