Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Fruit
The blueberry, sometimes known specifically as the American blueberry, is a small sweet fruit from the plant Vaccinium sect. Cyanococcus. It is similar to but distinct from the bilberry, which is sometimes known as the "European blueberry". Blueberries are native to the Americas.
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Blueberry becomes available halfway through spring, with a peak in the summer. The North American blueberry harvest (responsible for most of the world's supply) runs from mid-April through early October, with peak harvest from mid-May to August.  Fresh blueberries are available for nearly eight months of the year from producers across the United States and Canada.
Commercially available blueberries include larger berries, and smaller "wild" blueberries. Fresh blueberries should be firm, dry, plump, and smooth-skinned. They should be completely blue (deep-purple blue to blue-black) with no tinge of red; reddish berries aren't ripe but can be used in cooking. Blueberries have a protective light powdery coating on the skins and tend to last longer than other berry varieties. Soft, watery fruit means the berries are overripe; dehydrated, wrinkled fruit means the berries have been stored too long.
Blueberries tend to change color during cooking. Acids, like lemon juice and vinegar, make the blue in blueberries turn red. In an alkaline environment, such as a batter with too much baking soda, the blueberries may turn greenish-blue.
Selection and StorageEdit
Blueberries must be ripe when purchased, as they do not continue to ripen after harvesting. Blueberries should be dry, firm, well-shaped, and unstained. Keep blueberries refrigerated, unwashed, in a rigid covered container. Water on fresh blueberries hastens deterioration, so do not wash before refrigeration. They should last up to two weeks if they are freshly picked. For longer storage, keep in an airtight container and store in the freezer.
Blueberries may be eaten raw or processed in various ways. Like other berries, they can be folded into batters, made into preserves, used as garnishes, incorporated into custards, and more.
When using blueberries in batter, add them last to reduce color streaking. If frozen, do not thaw before use.When making pancakes and waffles, add the blueberries as soon as the batter has been poured on the griddle or waffle iron. This will make the pancakes prettier and they'll be easier to flip. If frozen blueberries are used, cooking time may have to be increased to be sure the berries are heated through.