Nothing says summer like fresh berries, and on top of being downright delicious, those fresh, organic blueberries that are in season right now are packed with nutritional mojo!
Health Benefits of Blueberries
Packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and loads of micronutrients, blueberries deliver a nutritional bang for the buck. Studies show that they enhance brain health and can even help improve your memory. They also protect your brain from age-related decline.
A 14-year study that followed 200,000 participants showed that eating blueberries can also help prevent high blood pressure. The researchers believe that it’s the flavonoids in blueberries that helped the study participants fight high blood pressure.
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There’s more to health than just your physical well-being, and blueberries do their part in that area, too. Because they’re rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, blueberries help reduce stress, or at least make your body more well equipped to handle it.
Need some tips on how buy and store your blueberries? We’ve got you covered on the next page!
Buying and Storing Blueberries
You can just eat fresh blueberries by the handful, but if you want to enjoy those tasty berries – and their health benefits – year-round, now’s the time to stock up! Blueberries are a summer fruit, so you can hit your local farmers markets now for the freshest blueberries around.
Like many fruits and veggies, if you want the maximum nutrition benefit from blueberries, organic is the way to go. In a study that compared organic to conventional blueberries, the organic berries had much higher levels of antioxidants than their conventionally-grown counterparts.
Related Reading: Organic Farming vs. Industrial Agriculture: Which Method Wins?
Make sure your blueberries are totally dry before you store them, then put them into a sealed container and stash them in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them. They’ll keep for about a week if you store fresh blueberries properly.
Of course, when you stock up on a perishable food, you also need to figure out how to make it last. You can preserve your blueberries by making jam (check out the easy jam recipes on the next page!), or you can freeze your fresh blueberries. If you’re sticking your blueberries in the freezer, don’t worry about losing out on nutrients. Blueberries retain their antioxidants, even when you freeze them.
We’ve got more deets on how to properly can or freeze your blueberries on the next page!
Preserving Your Blueberries
The two easiest ways to preserve blueberries are to freeze them or can them. Making blueberry jam for canning requires adding sugar to help preserve the fruit, so the best method for you really depends on how you want to enjoy your summer berries later on.
If making jam is your speed, here are a couple of blueberry jam recipes:
1. Freezer Jam – If proper canning seems daunting to you, you can still make yummy jams from the blueberry bounty! Freezer jam will keep for up to six months in your freezer, so you can make your jam now and enjoy blueberries long after they’re out of season. This recipe is for blackberry jam, but you can substitute blueberries 1:1 with delicious results.
2. Basic Blueberry Jam – Are you in the canning spirit? All you need to make the most basic blueberry jam are the berries, sugar, and Mason jars. Properly canned jam will last a little bit longer than freezer jam – 12 months – and you can store it in the pantry rather than the freezer.
Would you rather skip the added sugar and just freeze your blueberries for later? Freezing berries is simple enough, but to make them last and avoid freezer burn you want to take the time to do it right. Here’s how!
1. DO NOT wash them first! With other berries, you want to wash before freezing, but washing your blueberries before you freeze them will yield tough skin when you defrost them.
2. Spread your blueberries in a single layer on a tray – a cookie sheet will work well – and stick the tray in the freezer overnight, so they completely freeze.
3. Transfer your frozen berries to a freezer bag, get out as much air as you can, seal it up, and stash them until you’re ready to eat them up! Don’t forget to write the expiration date on each bag. Your berries will keep for six months.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy summery blueberries? I tend to devour them right out of the pint, and I’d love to hear your favorite blueberry recipes in the comments!