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Enjoy blueberries in July, which is Blueberry Month

Enjoy blueberries in July, which is Blueberry Month
July 13
00:00 2017

By Lynne Mitchell

Blueberries are in season and there is no better time to enjoy blueberries than now because it is Blueberry Month!  These little berries are nutrient powerhouses packed with healthful vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.  Antioxidants are beneficial for health because they prevent or repair damage to cells caused by oxidation.  Blueberries are also naturally low in calories with only about 80 calories per cup and taste naturally sweet and delicious.

Blueberries are native to North America and have been around for over 10,000 years!  When buying blueberries, look for berries that are firm, dry, and plump, without stems or leaves.  The berries should have a silvery surface and be a deep purple or bluish-black color.  Avoid berries that are shriveled or moldy; juice stains may mean that the fruit has been bruised.

Blueberries should be refrigerated once you get them home from the store.  You can store them in the container you bought them in or a covered bowl.  Wash blueberries right before you eat them.  When purchased fresh, they should last up to seven to 10 days. 

Blueberries freeze well.  Simply pop them in the freezer in a resealable freezer bag.  When you are ready to use them, remove the amount of berries you need, rinse them off, and you are ready to go.  If you prefer to wash the berries prior to freezing, dry them well before placing in the freezer.  It is best to use frozen berries within six months.  Canning is also a great option for preserving blueberries.

Blueberries are versatile and can be enjoyed at any meal and make great snacks.  At breakfast, you can put blueberries on cereal or oatmeal, in pancakes, muffins, and baked goods or in a smoothie or on top of yogurt. Heat them up and they make a great topping for pancakes, French toast or waffles. 

Blueberries make a great addition to salad and bowl dishes and are an unexpected, but welcome, addition to fruit salsas.  As a main dish, blueberries pair nicely with fish, poultry, tofu and beef – and when made into a sauce, they add a great pop of color.  If that isn’t enough, try adding blueberries to tacos, pizza, flatbread and sandwiches.  Blueberries are also tasty in desserts – need I say more than blueberry pie?

Whenever possible, try to buy blueberries in season for optimal nutrition and flavor.  Check the label when you buy fresh blueberries to see where they were grown.  North Carolina is on the list of top 10 blueberry producing states nationwide, with most blueberry farms being in the southeastern part of the state.

When you buy N.C. grown blueberries, it keeps money in our state and helps the local economy. 

For more information about blueberries, including growing your own berries, visit the Blueberry Council or Cooperative Extension Service.

Lynne M. Mitchell MS, RD, LDN is Community Nutritionist with the Forsyth County Department of Public Health (www.forsyth.cc/publichealth). You can reach her at 336-703-3216 (direct line) or mitchelm@nullforsyth.cc.

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