Season's Eatings: PlacerGrown Blueberries
DID YOU KNOW? // Blueberries—the only blue fruit—were once so abundant in North America (there are still more native species here than on any other continent) that they were a staple in the Native American diet. When the colonists first arrived, they were shown how to gather blueberries, dry them in the sun, store them for winter, and perpetuate their growth. The early American colonists also made grey paint for their homes by boiling the fruit in milk. A member of the ericaceac family, which includes azaleas and rhododendrons, the fruit is grown most successfully where the days are warm and the nights are cool, including Placer County.
NUTRITION // A nutrient-dense food, blueberries are low in calories, and pack a good amount of vitamins C and K, fiber, and manganese. Colloquially, blueberries are referred to as a “superfood,” since they’re high in antioxidants and thought to promote weight loss and heart health, alleviate inflammation, boost brain health, and support digestion. One study showed that drinking blueberry juice daily for 12 weeks improved memory in older adults and cognitive performance in children. They’re an easy-to-pack snack, a great addition to muffins and pancakes, and a showstopper on charcuterie trays. Larger berries are great on their own, while smaller ones work best for baking.
SELECTION AND STORAGE // Choose firm, plump, dry blueberries with a dusty blue color that are uniform in size. You can refrigerate the fruit for 10-14 days, but they also freeze really well and will retain their original nutritional value for up to six months. Simply spread them in a single layer on a cookie tray then transfer to a freezer storage bag.
For details on where to buy Placer County farm-fresh produce, wine, meat, and local products, visit placergrown.org.