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Blueberries

If there’s one fruit that can be genuinely called American, it’s the blueberry. The blueberry is a fruit that is native to the Americas.  The taste of the blueberry is somewhat of a cross between a red grape and a green grape, only much sweeter and juicier. The United States is the world’s leading blueberry producer, producing over half of the world’s blueberry supply.

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Ericales
  • Family: Ericaceae
  • Genus: Vaccinium
  • Species: Varies
  • Binomial name: Varies

Blueberry Trivia

  • Native Americans used the blueberry as a dye to add colors to fabrics.
  • July is considered National Blueberry Month across the United States
  • Native Americans believed that the “Great Spirit” created the fruit to feed their hungry children during the lean months.
  • Blueberries were also known as star berries due to their blossoms having five points, like that of a star.

Blueberry Buying Guide

The main things to look out for when in the market for blueberries is their color. Blueberries should be deep purple-blue to almost blue-black. Avoid blueberries with light shades of color as these can be underripe.

Blueberries should also have smooth skin, free from blemishes, and they should still be firm to the touch and plump. Blueberries that aren’t dry to the touch may be a sign that there is a squashed or rotten blueberry in the bunch, which can cause the rest of the batch to spoil faster.

The white powdery substance on the surface of the blueberry is a natural coating called bloom, and it protects the blueberry from drying out.

Be careful when buying blueberries that are labeled as “wild.” This does not mean that the blueberry is organically farmed. Wild is a marketing term used for low-bush variants of blueberries.

Across Texas, there are a lot of organic farms that offer “U-Pick” or “Pick-your-own” blueberries for a minimal cost, consider buying from them instead of commercially mass-produced blueberries in supermarkets.

Blueberry Production & Farming in Texas

In Texas, the most widely grown blueberry variant is the rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei). The rabbiteye blueberry is a plant that is native to East Texas, and it is commercially grown there, as well as in other locations in Texas.

Rabbiteye blueberries are also very popular across Texas because they need very little fertilization and have very few serious pests.

Most of the local Texas blueberry production is sold within the state, and the exportation of the product is minimal. Texas blueberry production is increasing due to the popularity of “Pick your own” operations across the state, as well as the rising demand for organic fruit.

Pesticides:

Blueberries are on the Dirty Dozen list, with over 50 different pesticide residues detected on samples tested. As we have mentioned earlier, “wild” blueberries don’t automatically mean that these blueberries are from the wild and grown organically unless they are labeled as pesticide-free and organic.

Due to the rising popularity of pick your own blueberries in Texas, it’s not difficult to find farms where you can get organic blueberries when they are in season.

Geography:

Blueberries thrive in soil that has 4.0-5.5 pH levels. They can also produce good yields when planted in containers as long as there is good soil drainage. The good thing about growing blueberries in Texas is that there is a rabbiteye variety that is suitable for every county, making this plant a great addition to your garden or farm wherever you are.

For more information on which variety is best for your county, check with your local nursery.

Packaging:

After harvesting, commercial blueberries have to be rapidly cooled down to prolong their storage times and to eliminate any fungal growth on the surface of the berries.

In commercial applications, blueberries are packed in small plastic clamshell boxes to protect them from bruising and damage. Blueberries are also stored in large cooled storage rooms to extend their shelf life for supermarkets and the like.

Blueberries are also individually quick frozen (IQF) and packed in a plastic bag for year-round availability.

Eating Blueberries

Blueberries are best enjoyed in their raw form as you can get the most nutritional benefits from this superfruit when consumed raw and fresh.

Storage:

Remember what they say about how a bad apple spoils the entire bunch? The same thing is true with blueberries. If you plan to store your blueberries in the fridge, check every single piece first for molds or spoilage and remove them before storing them in the fridge. Unlike other fruits, don’t store your blueberries in the crisper, store them where there is a lot of air circulation to prevent moisture from building up on the surface. If stored properly, blueberries can survive in the fridge for up to a week.

Tip: Do not wash blueberries until you are ready to eat them!

Cooking:

Blueberries, aside from being used fresh and in smoothies, do exceptionally well with heated cooking applications. They are excellent in pies, biscuits, muffins, tarts, and almost any baking application. Sauces and compotes can also be made from blueberries, which can add a unique tart twist to any savory dish.

Nutrition:

Blueberries, one of the most delicious superfruits.

  • Carbs
    • Blueberries have a relatively low glycemic index, which makes them safe for people with diabetes to consume. Take note though, that blueberries in baked applications like pies and tarts contain a lot of added sugars, so that should be taken into consideration. Fresh is always best.
  • Fiber
    • A serving of blueberries provides around 10% of the RDI for fiber.
      • Sixteen percent of the carbs in blueberries are dietary fibers.
      • Fiber flushes out your system by binding with toxins in your gut.
      • The fiber in blueberries helps reduce spikes in blood sugar levels.
    • Vitamins and minerals:
      • While blueberries contain moderates amounts of sugars per serving, they don’t have a high impact on blood sugar levels due to the anthocyanins present.
        • A study has shown that consuming blueberries improved insulin sensitivity in people who were at risk of developing diabetes.
        • Blueberries also block certain digestive enzymes and help reduce spiking of blood sugar levels.
      • Blueberries contain a high level of flavonoids, which has been associated with higher brain function and improved memory.

When Are Blueberries in Season in Texas?

One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas.

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 38.8 2%
  • Carbs: 9.9g 3%
  • Sugar: 6.8g 0
  • Fiber: 1.6g 7%
  • Protein: 0.5g 1%
  • Fat: 0.2g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 0.7mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 6.6mg 11%
  • Vitamin A 36.7IU 1%
  • Calcium 4.1mg 0%
  • Iron 0.2mg 1%
  • Potassium 52.4mg 1%
  • Vitamin E 0.4mg 2%
  • Vitamin K 13.1mcg 16%
  • Vitamin B6 0mg 2%
  • Folate 4.1mcg 1%
  • Magnesium 4.1mg 1%
  • Phosphorus 8.2mg 1%
  • Manganese 0.2mg 11%
  • Copper 0mg 2%
  • Zinc 0.1mg 1%

Seasonality

When are apples in season in Texas?

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec

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