Fresh Blueberries: Good and Good For You

Did you know that July is National Blueberry Month in the United States? Blueberries have long been recognized as a healthy addition to any diet. They are a good source of vitamin C and manganese as well as dietary fiber, low in sodium, virtually fat free and one cup of blueberries is a mere 80 calories. It was their antioxidant activity that put blueberries in the headlines in the late 1990’s.

Blueberry production, mostly of the rabbiteye types, is increasing in Alabama. About 400 acres of blueberries are produced annually.

Harvesting Blueberries
Blueberries are ready for harvest beginning no sooner that 3 to 4 days after fruits become fully blue. For best results, blueberries should be harvested carefully when they are dry and fully ripe.

Handling Blueberries
Blueberries are not as perishable as most other berries. Use care in working with blueberries-they do bruise easily. Put blueberries in a plastic container and refrigerate them as soon as possible. Do not wash blueberries until you are ready to use them.

Freezing Blueberries
Only ripe, full flavored berries should be used for freezing. Blueberries do not have to be washed before freezing. The berries should be harvested when they are dry, and they should be washed after thawing.

If blueberries are washed before freezing, you should sort the berries then wash them quickly in cool water. After washing the berries, spread them on a metal tray in a single layer. Allow the berries to dry (they stick together if they are frozen wet). Then freeze them until they are solid. Finally, pack the berries in freezer containers, and label the containers. Blueberries may be frozen in containers or covered with a cold 40 percent syrup (3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water).

Get your fresh blueberries at the new Greensboro Farmer’s Market. The market is open each Thursday from 12:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The market is located on Highway 69 & Main behind Barnette Furniture, Greensboro, Alabama. Free parking is next to the market. Visit their website at www.thegreensborofarmersmarket.com

Contact:
Denise Shirley, County Extension Coordinator
Hale County Extension Office
701 Hall Street, Greensboro, AL 36744
(334) 624-8710 FAX (334) 624-8807, E-mail: shirldr@aubur.edu

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