Blueberries are my favourite! Not only do they have a flavour that perfectly balances sweet, tart and tangy, blueberries are also nutritional stars. Ranked among the top fruits and vegetables for their antioxidants, blueberries are loaded with vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients that just make them even more delightful to consume.
Blueberry is a miracle fruit that holds a special spot in the health world. They are repeatedly ranked as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants help to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures and DNA. If that isn’t enough, they are low in calories, high in fibre and vitamins C and K, which will help your baby to absorb much needed iron! As an added baby bonus, blueberries help to enhance digestion.
How to Select
When out shopping, look for firm berries with a rich, uniform hue coloured with a whitish bloom. Shake the container and note whether the berries move freely. If they do not, this may indicate that they are soft, damaged or mouldy. Avoid berries that appear dull or are soft and watery in texture. They should be free from moisture, since water will speed up decay.
When purchasing frozen berries, shake the bag gently to ensure that the berries move freely and are not clumped together – this may suggest that they have been thawed and refrozen.
How to Store
Before storing, toss out any crushed or mouldy berries to prevent the rest from spoiling. Don't wash berries until right before eating, as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries' skins from degradation. Store ripe blueberries in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to 3 days. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.
Another great feature about blueberries is that they can be frozen without compromising their nutritional integrity. Purchase in bulk and take advantage of local berries while they are in season. Freezing unused berries ensures that you can still have a healthy snack all year round.
Before freezing, wash, drain and remove any damaged berries. To better ensure uniform texture upon thawing, spread the berries out on a cookie sheet or baking pan, place in the freezer until frozen, then put the berries in a plastic bag for storage in the freezer.
Tips for Preparing Blueberries
Fresh berries are very fragile and should be washed briefly and carefully and then gently patted dry if they are not organic. Wash berries just prior to use to not prematurely remove the protective bloom that resides on the skin's surface. If you know the source of either wild or organic berries, try not to wash them at all.
When using frozen berries in recipes that do not require cooking, thaw well and drain prior to using.
How to Enjoy – For Baby
Blueberries are such a great treat for babies. They are portable, delicious, healthy and don’t have the allergenic concerns associated with other berries.
You can easily purée fresh or frozen blueberries in a blender, adding water until the desired consistency is reached.
They also make a great finger food for older babies. However, they can pose a choking hazard, so make sure to cut large berries in half before feeding.
How to Enjoy – For Adults
Add a little kick to your morning cereal or yogurt by tossing in a handful of fresh blueberries! You can also add blueberries to a smoothie, which tastes great and gives it a vibrant purple hue. And don’t forget about blueberry pie or the traditional blueberry muffin. You can make these berries part of your dinner by adding to fresh spring salads. With these little superstars, the options truly are endless!