Remember that song “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65? The one you couldn’t escape in the summer of 1999? (I’m sure if you know it that it’s stuck in your head now. I apologize.)
All day and all night and everything the protagonist of the song sees is blue – and that’s the color of the berries we’re celebrating this month. July is National Blueberry Month!
According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, “blueberries are a kitchen all-star all year long, but they really shine in the summer. There’s just nothing like a refreshing boost of blue,
fresh or frozen, as the temperatures rise.” Enjoying the berry in July means 31 days of nutritious, delicious blueberries – and oh-so-many ways to enjoy them.
The Highbush Blueberry Council recommends starting your day with a blueberry smoothie before prepping some snacks containing the tasty little treats for later in the day. You can even use them after dinner as a topping for fruit pizza for dessert.
Whether fresh or frozen, blueberries are a good source of fiber and manganese. One cup of blueberries only contains 80 calories. The council has a ton of great recipes to try out this month.
But what about the plants themselves? What are the differences between the blueberry bushes growing out there?
The main differences between these highbush and lowbush blueberries are that highbush varieties grow taller and produce more abundantly. They also have larger, lighter-colored berries that are less sweet. Lowbush varieties are tiny, low-growing shrubs with dark blue and strongly sweet berries.
Then, of course, there’s also the wild blueberry, one of the State of Maine’s favorite products. According to UMaine Extension, wild blueberries are high in vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, fiber and antioxidants. One of the most abundant antioxidants in wild blueberries (when ripe) are the flavonoid compounds anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are located in the skin and are responsible for the blue pigmentation and some associated health benefits. For a full breakdown of those benefits, check out this fact sheet.
Of course, you can always enjoy your blueberries the adult way – by drinking them. If you’re curious about blueberry wine, check out this story from Country Folks Grower: Entering a new era with wild blueberry wine.