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Feature Article From Harvest to Health
How to select, store, prepare and preserve a variety of farm-fresh produce

 

Blueberries are delicious raw. Without added sugar, one-half cup of blueberries contains only 45 calories. They provide fiber, Vitamins A and C, potassium and iron.
 

Selecting Blueberries:


High quality blueberries should be plump and fresh looking. Berries of low quality are soft and watery or have a shriveled appearance. Color, which may be blue, black, bluish-black or purple is the key to ripeness. Look for berries that have a uniform color. Blueberries usually have a grayish waxy deposit on the skin, which is called bloom. The amount of bloom present depends on the variety of the berry.
 

The bloom on the berry is a protective coating; therefore, blueberries should not be washed until just before they are going to be used. Blueberries will spoil quickly if left at room temperature. They can, however, be stored for several days in the refrigerator. Canning or freezing blueberries will extend shelf life and provide your family with blueberries throughout the year.
 

Using and Preserving Blueberries:
 

Fresh Facts:
 

  • Pack blueberries in moisture-proof wrap and place in the refrigerator immediately to maintain peak quality.
  • Wash blueberries just before using - not before storage in the refrigerator.
  • Blueberries can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days for best quality. For longer storage, preserve by freezing or canning.


Freezer Facts:
 

  • Sort berries, discarding those that are shriveled, soft, watery or immature.
  • Wash berries thoroughly and prepare for freezing, using moisture-vapor proof wrapping or containers.
  • Blueberries can be stored in the freezer at 0F for about one year.
  • Frozen blueberries may be substituted for fresh berries in most recipes. However, their texture changes during freezing and storage, so frozen berries are not suitable for serving as you would fresh berries.


Canned Facts:
 

  • Sort berries, discarding those that are shriveled, soft, watery or immature.
  • Blueberries are usually canned in the form of jam, jelly, syrup or juice.
  • Blueberries may be canned in medium syrup or juice for use in pies. There is no safe recipe for canning blueberry pie filling. However, thickening can be added to berries canned in syrup or juice just before filling the pie shell.
  • Use canned blueberries within one year for best quality.
  • Canned blueberries may be substituted for fresh in recipes for most baked products; however, they should be drained before using. Any sugar added before processing should be accounted for in the recipe so that the product is not too sweet.


Recipes:
 

Chilled Blueberry Soup
4 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or unsweetened frozen
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice, unsweetened
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt, plain
 

Place 3 cups blueberries, vanilla, and pineapple and lemon juices in blender and puree until smooth. Divide into 6 bowls that have been chilled. Stir 1/4 cup of the remaining blueberries into each bowl and top with a teaspoon of yogurt.
Makes 6 servings.
 

Blueberry Rice Salad
2 cups cooked rice, cold
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup oil, chilled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Wheat germ
 

Combine rice, berries, coconut, chopped nuts and honey; set aside. In a blender container, combine milk powder and salt. While blending on high, slowly add oil until mixture becomes thick. Fold mixture into rice. When ready to serve, sprinkle with wheat germ. Makes: 4 servings.
 

Freezer Blueberry Pie Filling
12 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon peel
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup cornstarch
 

Sort and wash blueberries. Combine sugar and cornstarch thoroughly in a large saucepan. Stir in blueberries and let stand until juice begins to flow, approximately 30 minutes. Add lemon peel and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. Pour into freezer jars or containers. Seal, label and place in 0 F freezer.
Makes: Approximately 5 pints. Allow 2 pints for a 9 inch deep-dish pie; for a shallow 8-inch pie, use 1 pint.

 

Blueberry Muffins
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg, well beaten
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries
 

Sift flour, baking powder and salt; stir in sugar. Combine milk, egg and oil. Combine dry and liquid mixture, stirring only enough to mix ingredients slightly. Stir in blueberries. Batter should still be lumpy. Pour batter into greased muffin tins, approximately 2/3 full. Bake at 425 F for 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes: Approximately 12 medium size muffins.
 

 

References:
Ball Blue Book.
Environmental Nutrition Newsletter, Volume 7.
Practical Cookery.


 

 

To order any of the "From Harvest to Health" publications or for more preservation information, please refer to the University of Missouri Extension, Human Environmental Sciences Publications - Food, Nutrition and Fitness section.

 

 

Last update: Thursday, June 18, 2009

 


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