Health Benefits of Blueberries: With Recipe
One of our very favorite activities is picking blueberries together. We've done this for about 10 years now, and the novelty never wears off. Going to a farm and walking among the rows and rows of blueberry bushes, tasting different varieties (and there are so many more than I ever dreamed there were), and deciding on just the perfect ones to take home. It's been a lot of fun to show my children where their food comes from this way, and to teach them how to select the plump, ripe blueberries with no shade of red left on them to place in their buckets.
Types of Blueberries
There are 5 types of blueberry bushes, with a number of different varieties of blueberries, all with different tastes. Types of bushes vary by geographical location.
1. Northern Highbush: This type of blueberry bush is native to the northeastern United States and requires 800-1,000 chill hours per year. These are found mostly in the Central, Western, and Northeastern United States and parts of Canada. Examples of berry types include: Bluecrop, Bluegold, Legacy, Duke, and Patriot.
2. Southern Highbush: This bush is bred for superior fruit, soil adaptability, heat tolerance, and low winter chilling. Examples include Jubilee, Misty, Sharpblue, Golf Coast, and Ozarkblue.
3. Half-HIgh Berries: These bushes are a cross between Northern Highbush and Lowbush wild berries. They only grow about 2-4 feet and need approximately 1000-1200 hours of chill time in the winter to produce. These are said to have a "wild" flavor, and are found more in middle and northern states. Examples include Northland, Northsky, Northcountry, Polaris, and Patriot.
4. Wild Lowbush Berries: These are a high chill variety of blueberries and are native to Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and Maine. Examples are Top Hat (used for ground cover) and Ruby Carpet.
5. Rabbiteye Blueberries: These are popular all across the south and have a high drought resistance. Examples of these are Premiere, Powderblue, Climax, and Brightwell.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
Blueberries are full of health benefits. They have the highest capacity of antioxidants of all fresh fruits, and antioxidants help boost the immune system. They are known to help promote urinary tract health, and the fiber in the blueberries helps to keep away constipation and aid in digestion. These little berries have also been known to, due to the antioxidants, prevent cancer. Some specific cancers studied were colon cancer and ovarian cancer.
Some other benefits noted and of interest included the fact that blueberries have been noted to increase brain and memory function. It was stated that diets rich in blueberries can significantly improve learning capacity and motor skills. Blueberries are high in compounds that slow down vision loss, and can prevent or delay age related ocular problems. Finally, it has been noted that blueberries are good for anti depressant qualities.
When choosing blueberries, make sure you pick berries that are a deep purple/blue in color. These are richer in antioxidants. Berries should be firm, not soft. These berries will have a better health value.
You can't have a blueberry article without a few recipes to try out. Give these a try:
- 3/4 cup flour
- less than 1/8 teas. salt
- 2 teas. baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 cup sugar
- Sift or mix together flour, salt, and baking powder
- Mix with 1 cup sugar, then slowly stir in milk to make batter.
- Melt butter in an 8x8x2 inch baking pan.
- Pour batter over melted butter. DO NOT STIR.
- Mix blueberries and second cup of sugar (can reduce this sugar if too much).
- Carefully spoon blueberry and sugar mixture over batter mixture (still do not stir). When done, batter will come to the top to form crust.
- Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
- Serves 6 (or so). Tastes great with ice cream :)
Beulah Berry Blueberry Tea (this tea is amazing)
(from Beulah Berry farm website-- http://www.beulahberries.com/Recipes.html )
Blueberry Drink Base:
4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, rinsed & drained
2 cups water
Place blueberries in a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
Set sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth over a bowl & pour in the blueberry mixture. Gently press out the juice with a spoon or by twisting the cheesecloth. ( I use a jelly strainer, see ball canning supplies on the web. Also let it cool).
Discard the pulp and measure the juice.
Place in a saucepan. Add ½ cup sugar for each cup of juice and cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.
Chill, cool, and store in frig. Makes about 1 pint.
Make a gallon of tea using Lipton Instant Ice Tea Lemon flavored..
Comes in a big container at Walmart.
Takes 1 1/3 cup of the instant tea, per gallon of water.
I usually mix it in a big bowl or pot….add 2 cups of the blueberry drink base, then pour into a gallon jug. Chill .
If you are doing it by the glass…make your tea and add 2 T of the drink base with a slice of lemon.
Blueberry smoothies are always a hit using ice cream, milk, and blueberries mixed in a blender. Also, for a healthier alternative, you can use a cup of milk, 1/2 cup of blueberries, 3 tablespoons of Splenda or another sugar alternative, and 1 1/2 cups of ice. Blend these together for a smoothie. Yogurt can also be included.
Of course, just eating the berries straight from the tree or fridge is hard to beat.
Children's Picture Book
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe Book
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