In season from late spring to late summer, fresh blueberries are at their peak in July and August. Juicy and sweet, these round, smooth-skinned berries add the perfect touch of summer to salads, drinks, and desserts. Blueberries are cholesterol free, very low in sodium, low in fat, a good source of fiber and an excellent source of vitamin C. For a special treat, check out your farmer’s market for locally grown blueberries, freshly picked and still warm from the sun.
When selecting blueberries for purchase be sure to look for firm, plump berries with an indigo blue color and a silvery-white frost. Avoid any with a green or red tint, which indicates under-ripe berries. If packaged in a carton, check to make sure there are no juice stains at the bottom of the carton or moldy or crushed berries buried inside.
Refrigerate fresh blueberries for up to 1 week. If packaged in a cardboard container, transfer the berries to an airtight container. Check the berries periodically, discarding any that are moldy or crushed.
To prepare blueberries for serving you should remove and discard any damaged berries and stems. Gently rinse berries under cold water just before using. Spread them out on paper towels to dry. Do not thaw frozen blueberries before adding them to batters to prevent them from leaving blue streaks of juice.
Looking for some ideas for servings:
- Sprinkle fresh blueberries over a serving of cottage cheese.
- Stir blueberries into quick bread, muffin or pancake batter.
- Toss fresh blueberries into a green salad and top with your favorite salad dressing.
- Add blueberries to your blender while whipping up summer smoothies and shakes.
- Replace one-quarter of the fresh fruit in your favorite baked pie with blueberries. Peach and blueberry pie is a real summer treat!
If you want to preserve blueberries for use at a later time the easiest way to freeze them. Freeze washed and dried blueberries by placing them in a single layer on a baking pan. Freeze until hard, then transfer to freezer bags. Store frozen blueberries for up to 1 year.
Blueberries may be canned in water, juice, or syrup. Prepare and heat the liquid of your choice. Wash and drain blueberries.
Hot Pack: Heat to boiling, about 1 gallon of water for each pound of berries. Blanch berries in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain. Place 1⁄2 cup of hot syrup, juice, or water in each hot jar. Pack hot berries into hot jars, leaving 1⁄2-inch head space. Fill jars to 1⁄2 inch from top, with more hot syrup, juice, or water. Process pints or quarts for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.
Raw Pack: Place 1⁄2 cup of hot syrup, juice, or water in each hot jar. Fill jars to 1⁄2 inch from the top with raw berries, shaking gently while filling. Add more hot syrup, juice or water, leaving 1⁄2-inch head space. Process pints for 15 minutes and quarts for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner.
- 6 cups prepared fruit (2 pints ripe blueberries and 3 pints fully ripen raspberries)
- 1 box Sure Jell Fruit Pectin
- One-half tsp butter
- 7 cups sugar
- Bring boiling water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.
- Stem and crush blueberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 2 cups prepared blueberries into 6 or 8 quart sauce pot. Crush raspberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared raspberries into blueberries in sauce pot; stir until well blended.
- Stir pectin into prepared fruit in sauce pot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred.) on high heat. Skim off foam with metal spoon.
- Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water if necessary) Cover; bring water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes, Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool after 12-24 hours, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and need to be refrigerated.)
- 3/4 cup prepared Lemonade Drink mix
- 2 tbsp Sure Jell for less or no sugar needed recipes
- One-half cup blueberries
- One-half cup thawed whipped topping
- One-half cup ice cubes
Blend all ingredients in blended on high until smooth. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.