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Blueberries are small and mighty, known for their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. They also contain anthocyanin, the antioxidant that gives the berry its deep color and may also help improve learning and memory (according to studies on mice). Like most berries, blueberries are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, as well as B vitamins, fiber and vitamins C, E and K.
North America is the world’s leading blueberry producer, accounting for almost 90% of the world’s production. Harvest time in North America begins mid-April in Florida, peaks in July, and runs through early October in British Columbia.
Look for fresh blueberries that are firm, dry plump and smooth. They should be deep purple-blue or blue-black in color (reddish-colored berries aren’t ripe but may be used for cooking). Stay away from containers that are stained with juice, as this may be a sign that the berries are overripe, crushed or moldy. Fresh blueberries can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to ten days and washed just before using.
While blueberries can be eaten raw, they are often cooked in pies, pancakes and muffins. Add a few fresh blueberries to yogurt or cereal, cook them into a sweet syrup for topping ice cream, waffles or pancakes, or try a new blueberry recipe.
Scientific research continues to prove the health benefits of the tart and tangy cranberry. Cranberries are sources of polyphenols, antioxidants that may benefit the cardiovascular system, immune system and act as anti-cancer agents. They also contain tannins, which have anti-clotting properties. Besides being a rich in antioxidants, cranberries also boast fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium and more.
Cranberry juices and sauces are available in the grocery store year-round, while fresh cranberries are in-season from September to December—just in time for festive holiday dishes. When purchasing them fresh, go for plump, firm (an indicator of quality) cranberries that are deep red in color. Before storing in the refrigerator, discard soft, discolored or shriveled berries. Frozen cranberries will keep for years, but used immediately once thawed.
Cranberries make a healthy addition to your diet, no matter how you enjoy them—as juice, sauce, fresh or dried. For the most nutrients and antioxidants, choose fresh or dried cranberries. Cranberry juice is very popular but look out for added sugars—buy 100% pure juice. Cranberry "drinks" or "cocktails" that contain added water, sugar and sweeteners contain the fewest antioxidants. Dried cranberries are a flavorful addition to salads and can be added to stuffing or baked into muffins. Fresh cranberries can be boiled into a tangy sauce or chutney and make a great addition to roasted pork or fowl. Discover a new way to prepare cranberries by using one of our cranberry recipe ideas.