Farm Fresh Blueberries


Berry Seasons in Prnce Edward County

All About Blueberries

The Ontario Berry Growers Association
Explaining Ontario Blueberries Video


Nutrition Facts:

Amounts quoted are per one half cup of berries.

Energy (kcal)43
Protein (gm)  0.5
Fat (gm) 0.3
Carbohydrate (gm)10.8
Fiber (gm)3.5
Cholesterol (mg)  0
Iron (mg)0.1
Sodium (mg)   5
Calcium (mg) 5
Phosphorous (mg)8
Vitamin A (IU)77
Thiamine (mg)  0.04
Riboflavin (mg) 0.04
Vitamin C 0.08
Niacin 0.2
Vitamin B 64
Folacin11




















 



How to Tell When Blueberries Are Ripe:

Blueberries are at their peak stage of ripeness two or three days after turning blue.  When picking berries, the darker the better as long as the fruit is firm.

How to Pick Blueberries:

Picking high bush blueberries is fun and easy too!  The powdery milky-blue berries hang in clusters under the leaves of the plants which grow from five to seven feet tall. Many berries are right at arm’s length so you do not have to do a lot of bending if you don't want to. Baskets are available or bring containers that can rest on the ground or tie around your waist.  Hold the bush with one hand and pick the berries with the other.  Pick only the ripe ones and leave the rest to ripen another day.  It's so easy that you will have your basket full in no time.  After picking a basket, keep the picked berries in the shade under the plant while filling another container. You might want to bring a small folding stool to sit on while picking.  Bring along a hat and a long-sleeved shirt to protect yourself from the hot sun. Children are encouraged to help parents pick blueberries, it is a wonderful family outing.  The Blueberry Patch reminds parents to keep their youngsters close to them at all times. Washrooms are located in old-fashioned "privý" in the field. Blueberry Patch berries are plump, luscious, sweet tasting and juicy -- tasting one or two as you pick is OK too ....

Preparation:

Fresh Ontario Highbush Blueberries are the easiest fruit to harvest, prepare, store and serve.  There's no peeling, pitting, coring, cutting or stemming.

Storage and Handling:

Fresh Ontario Highbush Blueberries are perishable and should be refrigerated.  Store at 0 degree C  (30-32 degree F) with 90-95% humidity.  This will prolong the shelf life and retain the moisture level.  Fresh Ontario Highbush Blueberries should be consumed within 10-14 days after harvest and will hold well in the refrigerator, or they can be stored for up to 12 months in the freezer.

How to Freeze Blueberries:

Blueberries are easy to freeze.  Do not wash before freezing.  Place Blueberries one layer deep on baking trays, freeze then place in plastic bags or containers, being careful to remove air.  Be sure to label and date each package and enjoy them in the cold winter months.  Frozen berries can be used in jams, puddings, pies, muffins, pancakes and sauces and are excellent on top of cold or hot cereal. Remember to rinse and drain frozen and fresh Blueberries JUST BEFORE using. Enjoy fresh or frozen Ontario Highbush Blueberries all year round.

Research and Health Benefits:

Research by the United States Department of Agriculture suggests that blueberries may reverse the aging process, enhance memory and failing motor skills.  There is a possibility that they can actually reverse the loss of short-term memory that happens as we age.  They are loaded with antioxidants.  In fact, they have emerged as nature's number one source of antioxidants among fresh fruits and vegetables. Just like the cranberry, blueberries contain compounds that aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections. Findings from ongoing research by Dr Marva Sweeney-Nixon at the University of Prince Edward Island are suggesting that compounds from blueberries may help to prevent strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. "Go Blue", a study published in the Cancer Letter in January 2006 determined that blueberries inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Blueberry History:

Canadian blueberries are an historic treasure long prized by Aboriginal people and elevated to super food status to-day due to their health benefits. For centuries Aboriginal people picked wild blueberries as an important source of food and medicine.  They would sun dry the blueberries and grind them into a powder to preserve them for the winter months.  The sun dried berries were then mixed with ground corn meal mush (a corn pudding) and honey - a tasty and nourishing food in winter.  To-day with new methods of preserving and processing blueberries, and their recent elevation to "super food" status, the world's appetite for blueberries is growing.

Blueberry Varieties:

Blueray: Large dark blue berry -- Mid-season
Jersey: Small to medium size, dark blue colour, all purpose berry -- Late to mid-season
Patriot: Large medium blue colour, Early mid season
Duke: Medium size firm fruit, Late ripening
Elliott: Small, very firm fruit, Latest of all varieties
Bluegold: Medium size, good flavour and firmness, Late season

Growing Blueberries:

Blueberries are very difficult to grow.  In fact, only 16% of all land in Ontario is suitable for growing blueberries.  The first thing to consider is the acidity of the soil.  Blueberries require a soil which has a pH factor between 4.5 and 5.5.  They also require high organic matter, low nutrients, irrigation and good air drainage.  When planting, we dig a three foot hole, fill with wet peat moss and then place in a two year old plant.  In order to ensure that the pH level remains acidic, we add a slow releasing agri sulfur throughout the season. At present our blueberries have no known pest problems with the exception of birds (mainly robins and cedar waxwings).  The bird damage is kept under control by covering the plantings with netting during the fruit bearing season. Because we have no other pest problems, our blueberries are pesticide free.  They require only light fertilization and weed control. Annual pruning to remove any winter damaged wood and the addition of sawdust in the fall are the only cultural practices required once the plants are established.  The addition of sawdust in the fall provides protection for the roots, adds nutrients and helps to retain moisture. The Highbush, cultivated blueberry plant will grow to a height of 5 to 7 feet, depending on the variety, and will continue to be in production for approximately 25 years.  The different varieties of blueberries allow us to extend the season up to 5 weeks. While each variety of blueberry has slightly different characteristics, they are all sweet if allowed to remain on the bushes until they are fully ripe.  The main difference in the varieties is the time of the season they are available.

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