Blueberries Full of Antioxidants
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Berries are the gem of summer and the ingredient that many of our summer desserts might be made from. Think smoothies, pies, cakes, muffins, parfaits, cobblers, and even just eaten plain. Blueberries are full of antioxidants which protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Many experts believe this damage is a factor in the development of blood vessel disease (atherosclerosis), cancer, and other conditions.
It is believed that blueberries contain more antioxidants than 40 other common fruits and vegetables.
Eating one cup of wild blueberries will provide 13,427 total antioxidants, about 10 times the USDA's recommendation. In comparison, those we get locally from u-pick farms will give you 9,019 antioxidants per cup.
Why is it important to get antioxidants?
Researchers are finding that blueberries contain an antioxidant thought to be important for preserving brain function. Anthocyanin, found in the intensely blue pigment of the fruit, is said to contain the antioxidants that help protect against many types of cancer as well as heart disease, dementia and type 2 diabetes, to name a few.
In fact, just one serving of blueberries can provide as many antioxidants as five servings of carrots, apples, broccoli, or squash. A one cup serving has only 82 calories, 4 grams of dietary fiber, are low in sodium, and contain 30 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C.
We are lucky to have blueberries at the farmers market or you may want to make it a family affair and visit one of the u-pick blueberry farms in our area. At these farms, you and your family can pick fresh berries from the tree. According to one local grower, we should be able to pick until about the middle of July.
When you and your family head to the farm to pick your blueberries, or pick them up at the farmers market, look for those that are plump and firm with a light silvery “bloom.” This bloom is a natural protective wax on the berries.
Blueberries will not ripen once picked, so select those that have a light blue to blue-black color.
Leave those that are red on the tree to ripen longer.
Due to their fragile state, they must be refrigerated immediately after harvest. Store them in a container with a loose cover, or cover slightly with plastic wrap. Depending upon the initial freshness of the berries, they can be stored in the refrigerator from 2 days to 1 week.
Resist the urge to wash berries prior to storing them. Moisture from washing allows mold to grow. Instead, wash them just before you use them. If you are going to freeze them for later use, spread them in a single layer on a jelly roll pan and place in the freezer. After they are frozen, remove them and pack into freezer bags or containers.
If you properly store your berries, you will be able to prepare them in numerous ways later. Gently wash them in cold water just prior to using. To remove all the excess water, drain them in a colander, or spread on paper towels to dry.
Freezing blueberries will allow you to have them long after they have gone out of season. I use my frozen blueberries to make jam in the winter months, blueberry muffins, pound cake, in morning oatmeal, salads and just out of the bowl.
Click on the following links to get your free copy of Enjoy Arkansas’ Fresh Blueberries which contains nutritional information as well as recipes. We also have free publications on how to can, freeze (Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Fruit and Fruit Products), and make jams and jellies from fresh blueberries (Preparing and Canning Jams and Jellies). Or you may call our office at 870-779-3609 for your copy.
I have shared this recipe before; it is one of my favorites. This is one recipe that works best using real butter instead of margarine in the recipe.
Blueberry Pound Cake Recipe
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- One half teaspoon salt
- 3 cups flour (divided)*
- 2 cups blueberries
- *2 cups of flour in batter, 1 cup to dredge blueberries
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla.
- Mix in baking powder, salt and 2 cups of flour.
- Fold in blueberries that have been dredged in 1 cup flour.
- Pour into 10-inch tube pan which has been buttered and sprinkled with sugar.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Cool slightly and remove from pan on wire rack to cool. Transfer to serving platter. Serves 10-12.