Down & Dirty

How to Select, Store, and Eat Blueberries

By • July 5, 2014 • 8 Comments

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more. This post was brought to you by our friends at Evolution Fresh, who like fresh, flavorful ingredients as much as we do.

Today: This berry is the king of breakfast (and makes a royal addition to desserts, too) -- it even wears the crown to prove it.

Fresh Blueberries, from Food52

Most of the blueberries you'll see at the store are highbush blueberries. And yes, they do grow on high bushes (around 6 feet or more). But they're only one of the three main types of blueberry plants.

The second are lowbush blueberries, which, in the U.S., are found in the Northeast. These berries are smaller, but they pack a bigger flavor punch. They grow low to the ground and look more like creeping groundcover than bushes. In fact, when harvested by hand, a special metal rake can be used to scoop them up.

The third type, rabbiteye blueberries, can be found primarily in southeastern states, growing on enormous rabbit-shaped bushes. No, not really. These blueberries aren't named for the appearance of the plant, but rather for the berry itself. Before the berries are fully ripe, their blossom end resembles a rabbit’s eye. 

Fresh Blueberries, from Food52

How to Select and Store
Look for the bluest blueberries (1) you can get your hands on. If you pick up a paper punnet with a purple-splotched stained bottom, however, select a different one -- those berries are likely too ripe. Blueberries should be stored in the refrigerator and used pretty quickly. It seems to go against everything you’ve heard, but to keep your berries fresh for longer, wash them in a diluted vinegar bath before you’re ready to eat them, or opt for specially designed produce sheets

More: Ignored our wise advice? No matter, we've got 10 ways to enjoy overripe berries.

Blueberries also freeze really well, and you’ll thank yourself for your forethought when you’re enjoying a taste of summer six months from now. If you’ll be using your frozen blueberries in baked goods, give them a quick toss in a little flour before adding them to your batter to prevent color bleeding.

Fresh Blueberries, from Food52

We like to eat blueberries all day long, but for some reason they seem especially well-suited for enjoying at sunup and sundown:

Breakfast
Sprinkle bowls of cereal or oatmeal with a smattering of blueberries. Turn blueberries into jam for toast or sauce for crêpes. Blueberries always make a welcome addition to muffinspancakes, and waffles. Or try something new, and start your day with breakfast polenta, chia seed pudding, or a smoothie.

Dessert & More
Blueberries want to be in your baked goods -- all of your baked goods. In a pandowdy or a schlumpf, a cobbler or a galette, the name hardly matters when it's bursting with fresh berries. Try blueberries in ice cream or paired with burrata, and end the day with a blueberry-infused beverage.

We’d advise against indulging in blueberry pie-flavored gum, but can’t wait to hear about your favorite ways to eat blueberries. Tell us in the comments!

This post was brought to you by Evolution Fresh. Check out their new pairing guide to find out which foods go best with their juices. 


Photos by Mark Weinberg

Jump to Comments (8)

Tags: down and dirty, diagrams, special diets, blueberries, berries

Comments (8)

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4 days ago hgail

Growing up in South Jersey we lived near a blueberry farm that grew several varieties that ripened sequentially throughout summer. Our favorite way to eat them was to fold back a cuff of the two liter poly bag & take a handful on our way through the kitchen or dump them into a juice glass for a slightly more polite way of eating them. They rarely ever made it into baked goods. But, 'grasspress' makes a good point for a way to enjoy them on oatmeal all year long. Frozen blueberries would be a lot like our favorite summer snack: frozen raisins for a cold sweet treat on a hot summer day.
sjrsygrl

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16 days ago grasspress

hint for blueberry eaters who buy in bulk when the berry is in season. i have been doing this for many years: store berries in ziplocs straight from the store and freeze. when ready for some grab a handful, place in colander and run cold water over them to wash. let them sit a bit if you need them thawed, but if adding to a hot cereal stir in right away and the cold berries will bring your hot cereal down to an eatable temperature.

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about 1 month ago Practically Eating

1: Great way to solve the spoilage problem is to freeze them. Kids love them because they are like little candies and when you put a bunch of them on cereal and then pour milk on them the milk freezes on the blueberries.
2: There are far more than 3 kinds of blueberries. We planted a few different varieties in the garden (they are annuals so you plant them and then sit back and watch while they give you a new crop or two per year) and we have one variety (can't remember the name) that produces fruit that is not only huge (by blueberry standards) but reddish purple when they are ripe with snow white flesh.

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about 1 month ago karmaya

assume by "annuals" you meant they are shrubs which flower and fruit once a year. they are not what gardeners call annuals (pansies, marigolds, petunias, et al) and yes to get good pollination and fruit, plant different varieties together.

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about 1 month ago Practically Eating

Exactly. And that is why at our house we refer to them as "replanters" and "permanents". Because I can't keep those two terms straight. It's like the word semiannual which can mean both once every two years and twice per year. Or inflammable which seems like it should mean "not able to catch fire" but which actually means the same thing as flammable. Stupid language ;)

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about 1 month ago Elizabeth

We live in eastern Canada where wild low bush blueberries are abundant. However, much much better for the plant if they are hand picked, not raked. I understand, although dislike, the use of rakes commercially, but they are certainly not required for personal use. This is a very easy berry to pick by hand, as it comes off the bush cleanly.

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about 1 month ago Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

I love learning about tools. The Amazon page describes the metal rake, though, as being for high bush blueberries rather than low bush. Thanks for a handy column!

Pict1821

about 1 month ago Lindsay-Jean Hard

Lindsay-Jean is a Contributing Writer & Editor at Food52.

The link has been switched to a better visual!