Sarah, really interesting. I love blueberries and the ones I've been buying have been so sweet and large. Generally here in Ca. our blueberries start out coming from N. J. then Oregon and finally British Columbia. The ones I've gotten from Costco have been from Calif. I didn't know we even grew them. One time we were in Oregon in the Williamette Valley area and I had seen signs for blueberries. I really wanted to 'buy' some so we started out looking for the sign I had seen. We were with another couple and finally saw a sign that said 'pick your own'. Well I remember picking blueberries in Ma. and it took 1/2 an hour or more to get a cup full for my mother to make muffins. Our friend drove down the road in Oregon and we came to this blueberry farm. High bush berries that I had never seen before. They were hanging on the bushes like grape clusters. It took us about 20 minutes to get a pail full.
I also remember my mother and grandmother trying to make blueberry wine. I can still hear the corks popping from the cellar.
The Blueberry is one of the few fruits that are native to North America (along with cranberries and concord grapes). Blueberries are sometimes mistakenly called “huckleberries.” The naturally-sweet wild berry is thought to have been a popular native fruit, since sugar was scarce and very expensive in the early years of North America; therefore, blueberries played an important role in the diets of Native Americans. Interestingly, soldiers in the Civil War regularly drank a blueberry beverage because of its health benefits. In the past, blueberries were used for medicinal purposes along with the leaves and roots, and were used to treat coughs, and was said to be good for the blood.
Blueberry Production Blueberry harvest starts in Florida in the early Spring and ends in British Columbia Canada in October and sometimes later, so people can enjoy fresh blueberries all year round. 12,000 acres of farmland in British Columbia are devoted to growing blueberries. British Columbia is the second largest producer of cultivated blueberries in the world, following Michigan. (BC Highbush Blueberry Industry Fact Sheet, PDF) North America is the world’s leading blueberry producer, currently accounting for nearly 90 percent of world production. The North American Industry ships more than 100 metric tons of fresh blueberries each year to Iceland, and more than 500 metric tons to Japan. If all the blueberries grown in North America in one year were spread out in a single layer, they would cover a four-lane highway stretching from New York to Chicago. The total production of wild blueberries in North America averages over 120 million pounds annually. Nova Scotia's average annual production is 30,000,000 pounds. The wild blueberry is Maine's native berry - 60,000 acres of blueberries grow naturally in the state, which is equivalent to about 45 million pounds.
Cooking with Blueberries Blueberries can be used to make sauces, baked goods, drinks, as well as desserts. Blueberries may change color when cooked. Acids, such as lemon juice and vinegar, cause the blue pigment in the berries to turn reddish. Make sure to integrate the skins of the blueberry in your cooking to benefit from all of the anthocyanin in the pigments. Blueberries also contain a yellow pigment, which in an alkaline environment, such as a batter with too much baking soda, may give it a greenish-blue color.
Other Interesting Facts
In the US, July is National Blueberry Month. In British Columbia, August is Blueberry Month as proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia. Wild blueberries tend to contain more brain-saving bioflavonoids than the domestic ones. In Sweden, dried blueberries are used to treat childhood diarrhea. This use is attributed to anthocyanosides, a natural substance found in blueberries which is believed to be lethal to E.Coli. (www.atlanticblueberry.com/main_nut_health .html) On January 12, 2004, Gov. James E. McGreevey of New Jersey signed a bill into law naming the blueberry the Garden State’s official fruit. Blueberry Jelly Bellies were created especially for Ronald Reagan
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