According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, July is National Blueberry Month! If any fruit deserves its own month of honorable recognition, the little blue beauty certainly does. Native to North America, blueberries are grown in 35 out of 50 states. That translates into supplying roughly 95% of the entire world’s crop. With flavors ranging from puckery tart to mildly sweet, blueberries are in full seasonal swing somewhere from April through October, but July is prime blueberry season. (They can also be enjoyed frozen or dried at other times of the year.) Experts often include blueberries in their Top 10 Lists of the healthiest foods. That’s because, like many fruits, they are rich in fiber, low in calories and boast Vitamin C and other important antioxidants. Blueberries get their deep purple-blue color from anthocyanin pigments that have long been thought to have health benefits.
When shopping, be sure to look for firm blueberries with even coloring. Shake the container gently to make sure they move easily and are free of mold, moisture or damage. Once you get them home, don’t wash them until ready to eat or use in a recipe. Try to eat them within three to five days. If you’ve got extra on hand, freeze them in an air-tight plastic bag for later. Blueberries are perfect for topping hot or cold breakfast cereal and you’re probably familiar with blueberry pancakes and blueberry pie. But there are other great ways to use them. Ever tried tossing a handful on your green garden salad or stirring them into a whole grain pilaf? Here are some more bright ideas to help you bask in blueberry bliss:
Add blueberries to any fruit salad, including stewed fruits.
Eat them alone or mix them with other berries for cereal, snacks, yogurt and pie, like this recipe for Summer Berry Pie.
Turn them into Blueberry Crumble and serve for breakfast or dessert with ice cream, yogurt or frozen non-dairy dessert.
Puree with a squeeze of lemon, a little mint, a favorite spice or two and some natural sweetener for refreshing blueberry soup.
Make blueberry muffins or blueberry quick bread. These Blueberry Spelt Muffins really hit the spot.
Add them to smoothies.
Make a leafy green salad, toss with blueberries and a light vinaigrette.
Make a sauce for a sweet dish. This Blueberry Dessert Sauce is perfect for pancakes, waffles, yogurt or favorite frozen dessert, and this Lamb with Lavender-Blueberry Sauce is perfect for a savory dish.
Make sauce for grilled or roast chicken, roast turkey or pork. This Blueberry Pomegranate Sauce is a winner.
Do you enjoy ordinary blueberry pancakes? Time to bliss out on Extraordinary Blueberry Pancakes instead.
Make tabbouleh and add some blueberries.
Stir blueberries into hot cooked couscous, rice, quinoa or any favorite hot cooked grain.
Gently pulse blueberries in a food processor, add sweetener if desired; freeze in ice pop holders.
Try my new favorite snack: A bowl of fresh blueberries topped with lightly sweetened sesame tahini. Delish.
Got company coming? They will forever remember your number if you serve them a Blueberry and Pine Nut Nougat.
Do you plan to celebrate National Blueberry Month? Got a favorite recipe? Let me know!