Ontario High Bush Blueberries

History:

The blueberry bush (Vaccinium) is a Native North American Species. Early settlers used

the fruit in their diet by incorporating it into a variety of foods and medicine. North America is the largest producer of blueberries and accounts for about 90% of the world’s crops. High bush blueberries are grown in more then 30 states and in provinces like Ontario and BC.

The cultivated blue berry to high bush was the result of early efforts in the 1900’s by Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick Coville. Over the years, plant breeders have worked to enhance the desired attributes of blueberries such as texture, taste, disease resistance and colour.

General info on blueberries and the season.

A high bush can grow between 5 - 7 feet.
High bush berries are larger than wild berries, sweet, tasty and easy to prepare. Some popular ways to serve them are with milk, crème, in pancakes, muffins or pies.
Blueberry season runs from early July into late August.

Storage and Handling:

Store berries in a cool refrigerator OR AT 0 degrees C with 90-95%humidity. This will prolong shelf life and reduce moisture loss. Blueberries should be consumed with\in 10-14 days of purchase or they can be frozen up to a year.

Preparation:

Ontario Blueberries are the easiest to harvest, prepare and store. There is not cutting, peeling or pitting! When freezing remember - don't not wash blueberries before you freeze them. Place berries one layer deep on baking trays; freeze, then pack in plastic bags or containers. Rinse and drain frozen blueberries just before using.

Why are blueberries blue?

Blueberries are one of the few “true blue” foods. It receives its colour from the high levels of anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is a water-soluble pigment that can range from the colour blue to red. Pigmentation is at its height during the first six days of colourization, this symbolizes the berry’s early stage of maturity.

What is the difference between a cultivated bush and a wild bush?
A cultivated Blueberry is a high bush and a wild one is called a low bush. Low bush berries are grown in many parts of Maine and Canada.

Some technical info:

Cultivated Blueberries are available in a wide range of sizes. But remember just because they’re bigger doesn’t mean they’re sweeter!
  • Extra Large: 90 berries/cup
  • Large: 90-129 berries/cup
  • Medium: 130-189 berries/cup
  • Small: 190-250 berries/cup.
Blueberries also come in various products that fulfill certain uses within the blueberry industry. The most common are:
  • Fresh: Normally bought by personal consumers.
  • IQF Frozen Blueberries: Used mostly in muffins and pancakes.
  • Straight Pack: Blueberries are frozen right in the package and used mostly to make fillings and yogurt.
  • Puree: Crushed and Pasteurized for making berry based wine, beer and beverages.
  • Concentrate: Used mostly in the beverage industry. Essence: Artificial natural flavourings.
  • Canned: Usually water packed and bought by consumers for personal use.
  • Dried: Used for dry mixes and is usually diced.
  • Freeze dried: For high tech berry products!
  • Fruit chips and Bits: An alternative for the food industry to using fresh or frozen berries in mixes and muffins.

Nutritional Information

Blueberries make a delicious low calorie treat!
125ml (1/2 cup) of blueberries contains only 43 calories and is a good source of vitamin C. They are also low in fat, sodium and are completely cholesterol free.

Blueberries have more to offer than just good looks and good taste. Besides being a good source of Vitamin C and fibre, they have an exciting nutrition story to tell too! Let's check out the facts and look at the nutrition label for blueberries. One cup of blueberries equals one serving. And this amount of blueberries has 15% of the Vitamin C and 14% of the dietary fibre our bodies need every day. That's why blueberries are good sources of these nutrients. Just like all other fruits, blueberries contain no cholesterol or fat and are also low in calories. Blueberries are a great choice when choosing berries this summer!

New studies by USDA scientists and the University of Illinois point to health benefits from eating blueberries that may be as far reaching as preventing cancer and retarding the effects of aging - particularly the loss of memory and motor skills.

The focus has been on flavonoids, including anthocyanins, which are responsible for the intense blue color of wild blueberries. USDA scientists Dr. Ronald Prior and Dr. Guohua Cao from the Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging at Tufts, recently tested some 40 fruits and vegetables and found that blueberries are number one in antioxidant activity. Antioxidants prevent cancer-causing cell damage and may thwart the effects of some age related diseases. Animals fed a diet of blueberry extract showed fewer changes in brain function due to aging, which could mean improved cognitive and motor skills. USDA researcher Dr. James Joseph attributes the beneficial effect of blueberries to their high anthocyanin content. Another study conducted by Dr. Mary Ann Smith of the University of Illinois looked at a flavonoid that inhibits an enzyme involved in promoting cancer. Of the fruits tested, blueberries showed the greatest anti-cancer activity.

Fresh Blueberries & Frozen Blueberries

Per 1 Cup Serving (140 grams) (Test results obtained from two different samples, sent to two different labs)
Calories 83.68 / .83
Fat, g 0.16 / 0.13
Sodium, mg 0.49 / 0.44
Total Carbohydrates, g 19.36 / 18.91
Dietary fiber, g 4.9 / 4
Sugars, g 9.24 / 14.9
Protein, g 1.15 / 1.57
Vitamin A, I.U. 64.4 / n.d.
Vitamin C, mg 10.33 / 10.96
Calcium, mg 12.05 / 12.3
Iron, mg 0.34 / 0.26
Potassium, mg 80.04 / 79