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