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Diane Miller

A quick look at Blueberries

    What could be more delicious on a warm summer day than fresh-picked blueberries? Blueberries are found on almost every continent of the world. However, more blueberries are grown in the U.S. and Canada than in the rest of the world combined.
    Blueberries are a fair source of vitamin C and contain small amounts of many other vitamins and minerals. One-half cup of fresh blueberries contains about 45 calories. Blueberries contain the pigment anthocyanin. Anthocyanin acts as an antioxidant and research has shown anthocyanin to enhance the effects of vitamin C, improve capillary integrity and stabilize collagen.
    Fresh blueberries are plump and firm with a light silvery “bloom.” This bloom is a natural protective wax coating on the berries. Select blueberries that are uniform in size and free from leaves, stems and other debris. The fruit should be dry, since moisture hastens decay.
    Blueberries do not ripen after they’re picked, so be sure to select fully ripe berries. Ripe blueberries range in color from light blue to blue black. Reddish or green blueberries are not fully ripe and have a sour flavor. These can, however, be used in cooking.
    Overripe blueberries have a soft, watery, lifeless appearance. Those that have been stored too long look similar, but may also be shriveled.
    Handle blueberries with care. They are perishable and should be refrigerated until they are used. To prevent mold growth and decay, don’t not wash blueberries until just before they are used. Simply store them loosely covered in the refrigerator. When stored properly, they should keep for at least two weeks.
    To prepare blueberries for serving, wash them quickly in cold water. Then drain them well in a colander or on paper towels.
    Blueberries are an easy fruit to freeze. Simply remove any leaves, stems, defective or immature berries. Pack then unwashed berries in moisture-vapor resistant packaging, leaving on half inch head space. Seal and freeze. Wash before using.
    For more information on food preparation, contact Diane at (912) 871-0504, dianem@uga.edu, or www.ugaextension.com/bulloch/fcs.

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