Week 33: Blueberries
Most species of blueberries are native to North America. However, there are many different varieties throughout many regions of the world. There is also a flavor range from mildly sweet to tart, and their colors can vary from different shades of purple. Their unique combination of phytonutrients (plant nutrients) are responsible for the variety in flavors, aromas and colors of blueberries. Blueberries belong to the same plant family as cranberries, bilberries, huckleberries and lingonberries..
There are a tremendous amount of healthy nutrients within blueberries, including a vast array of phytonutrients (for example: anthocyanins, flavonoids, stilbenoids). Blueberries are a very good source of vitamin K, C, and manganese and are a good source of fiber and copper.
Many of these benefits have been seen in lab studies and some animal studies. It is likely that these benefits will be proven in humans too.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant- These properties may manifest as antidiabetic, cardioprotective, neuroprotective and chemoprotective (cancer-preventing).
Lower blood sugar- Through the fiber and the low glycemic index of blueberries.
Cognitive function and memory- Blueberries have been shown to improve nervous system responses, most probably through protecting nerve cells from oxidative damage.
Cancer risk- The phytonutrients have been shown to have chemoprotective and tumor suppressing properties.
Selection and Storage:
Choose firm blueberries that have a uniform bluish color with a whitish bloom. Avoid those that are dull in color and are soft and mushy in texture. They should be free from moisture to help prevent them from decay.
Do not wash berries until right before eating them. Store ripe blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to 3 days.
Blueberries can be frozen. Prior to freezing, wash, drain and remove any damaged berries. A tip for better texture of frozen berries, prior to freezing, spread the berries out on a cookie sheet, place in the freezer until frozen, then put the berries in a sealed plastic bag or sealed container for storage.
Blueberries retain their maximum amount of nutrients and taste when they are enjoyed fresh and not prepared in a cooked recipe. When berries are exposed to temperatures used in baking (350°F/175°C and higher) their nutrients – vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants – undergo damage.
These are AMAZING! Blueberry Cream Scones from Bon Appetit.