The blueberry is truly a local fruit, its origins spanning all across Canada, and one of the only native fruits that is ubiquitous in grocery stores. When ripe, these pea-sized berries are slightly sweet, slightly acidic, and very juicy - making it a fun adventure to pop a few in your mouth and let them burst with summer flavours.
Blueberries are high on our list of favourite berries and a real treat when eaten by the handful. Here are 9 facts that make a strong case for the beloved blueberry.
- 1. Cranberry is blueberry's cousin. Categorized under the Vaccinium genus, blueberries are closely related to, not only the cranberry, but also huckleberries and bilberries.
- 2. Your blueberry jam may not actually be made from blueberries! Some producers of blueberries use bilberries in their products instead. However the bilberry provisions are still called ‘blueberry’. The major difference between bilberries and blueberries are: blueberries have a green flesh, while bilberries have more of a reddish and purple hue on the inside.
- 3. You are either eating highbush or lowbush blueberries. Highbush are cultivated blueberries, whereas low bush are wild blueberries.
- 4. Canada is the leading producer of lowbush berries. Atlantic Canada produces over half of North America’s lowbush production, New Brunswick being the province with the highest lowbush supply.
- 5. Cultivated (highbush) blueberries didn't exist until 1916. In New Jersey, USA, daughter of a cranberry farmer Elizabeth White and USDA botanist Frederick Coville began to domesticate the wild blueberry. By the 1930s, blueberries were a global hit.
- 6. First Nations peoples have been eating lowbush blueberries long before settlers arrived. The First Nations peoples use the berry for many purposes. It can be eaten fresh or added to dried meat in a traditional dish called Pemmican. The juice is used to create a dye and also to treat coughs.
- 7. The purple-blue hues of blueberries are an indicator that the fruit is high in antioxidants. The colour comes from a naturally occurring pigment called anthocyanin - an antioxidant - which is great for eyeysight as well as lowering blood pressure. Bluebrries are also an excellent source of vitamin C and fibre.
- 8. Blueberries are a great study snack! New studies have shown that blueberries improve cognitive thinking and memory skills.
- 9. Blueberries are protected by their silver linings. The silver-grey covering on a blueberry is a protective layer known as the bloom. Do not wash your berries until are ready to eat them because the bloom is what keeps the berries fresh.
Here is one way we will be eating our blueberries this week: Dutch Baby with Stewed Blueberries