June 07, 2011

No Berry like a Blueberry

A study at Tufts University concluded that blueberries have the most antioxidant capability of 60 fruits and vegetables studied. The 'magical ingredient' is called anthocyanidin, a compound which gives the berry its beautiful blue color. Blueberries should not be eaten to the exclusion of other fruits, but part of a varied diet.

Blueberries in my neighbor's garden.

We in the lower south in the Coastal Plain grow Rabbiteye blueberries as do gardeners in north Florida. Gardeners farther north grow Low bush and High bush blueberries.

Here are links to growing blueberries in the lower southern states, GA, FL, AL. Your state's Extension Service will provide similar information for the area where you grow.  When searching, I always check neighboring states for additional info.




Blueberries need acid soil, sunlight and ample water. They are sometimes compared with azaleas for care with the exception being shade for azaleas, sunshine for blueberries. I grow mine in full sun and use trickle irrigation.
Late-maturing blueberries in my garden up close.
We planted 5 different cultivars. The best have 'Tif' in their name.
Farmer Danny in the truck on his way to start irrigation on his corn.

Blueberries are native to North America.
These extracts from the Journals of Lewis and Clark speak of the charms of blueberries 200 years ago:
On August 14th, 1805, Meriwether Lewis wrote: "I now directed McNeal to make me a little paist with the flour and added some berries to it which I found very pallatable."

The following day, August 15th, 1805, he added, "This morning I arrose very early and as hungary as a wolf. I had eat nothing yesterday except one scant meal of the flour and berries except the dryed cakes of berries which did not appear to satisfy my appetite as they appeared to do those of my Indian friends. I found on enquiry of McNeal that we had only about two pounds of flour remaining. this I directed him to divide into two equal parts and to cook the one half this morning in a kind of pudding with the burries as he had done yesterday and reserve the ballance for the evenig...on this new fashioned pudding four of us breakfasted, giving a pretty good allowance also to the Chief who declared it the best thing he had taisted for a long time. "

From the NC Blueberry Association:

Five Quick Uses for Blueberries
  • Sprinkle over hot or cold cereal
  • Use as a topping for ice cream
  • Mix with cottage cheese
  • Add to fruit salads
  • Serve in a cantaloupe half topped with yogurt

Blueberries are the perfect choice for a fun, flavorful and healthy snack. Blueberries contain vitamins A & C, iron, potassium and magnesium. They are a good source of carbohydrates and fiber, yet they are low in sodium and cholesterol free. One more piece of good news...blueberries only contain 42 calories per half-cup serving.

The dog and I are wild about Blueberry Crisp:
Sprinkle 3 cups of blueberries in a baking dish with  a tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/4 cup sugar. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of water.
Mix together 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 3/4 cup of dry oatmeal, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cut in 1/2 stick of butter.  Sprinkle mixture over blueberries.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until topping is browned.

We pretend that the oatmeal offsets the butter. We use minimal sugar. Your taste may differ.

My late brother believed that eating blueberries raised his glucose levels. We do not know if it was natural fruit sugars in the blueberries, or the quantity that he ate that did so.

Current studies are made around the world to determine further effects on health. Some researchers believe that blueberries help the eyes, prevent urinary tract infections, lower cholesterol, protect against macular degeneration, aid the cardiovascular system, reverse aging and combat E. Coli. Many of these studies have not arrived at a conclusion, and no single food is a cure-all. The antioxidant properties are a fact.

Three of my blueberry bushes.
The arbor behind holds two varieties of Scuppernong grapes.


rental mobil elf said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Arkansas Patti said...

Thanks so much for stopping by TNS. You have amazing blueberry bushes. I tried but my clay soil didn't seem to work.

Kate said...

With so many plants acclaimed for their antioxidants these days, it was interesting to hear that blueberries have the most. Your plants seem to be healthy and thriving! I've been tempted to plant one in a container, but I know better. These delightful plants need a bit of pampering.

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