Blueberries- A Sweet, Local Treat
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
They are a sweet, small treat either eaten by themselves or in a smoothie, cake, muffin, or however you wish to dress them up. They not only add wonderful flavor to foods, that little round ball is packed full of antioxidants which protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, or unstable oxygen molecules that damage the body and can cause various diseases and aging.
Scientists believe that blueberries contain some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fresh fruit and even many of the vegetables. Eating one cup of blueberries will give you about 9,019 antioxidants per cup.
Blueberries aren't actually blue, but deep purple, which is the color of anthocyanin, a pigment that is especially rich in blueberries. Anthocyanin 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. A good rule to follow is, the darker the berry the more anthocyanins are present.
With only about 80 calories per cup, there is no need to feel guilty if you eat a cup or two of this naturally sweet treat. They are good sources of fiber, Vitamin C and an excellent source of manganese.
Just one cup of blueberries counts 4 grams towards your daily fiber intake recommendation. They are thought to ward off constipation, help with your gut health, and a diet rich in fiber can also help keep your cholesterol in check.
It’s not hard to think that blueberries might be packed with vitamin C. Their deep color is a giveaway that they help maintain healthy gums, promote the growth of healthy tissue and a healthy immune system. Just one cup will supply you with 25 percent of your vitamin C for the day.
Blueberries are an excellent source of manganese, which is important in bone health, as well as helping to convert fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy that we need.
We are located with several u-pick blueberry farms nearby. At these farms, you can pick berries from the tree. They are available to pick now or you can purchase them already picked at the Gateway Farmers Market.
How do you pick blueberries? Look for those that are plump and firm with a light silvery “bloom.” This bloom is a natural protective wax on the berries. They will not ripen once picked, so select those that have a light blue to blue-black color. Red berries need to stay on the tree longer to ripen.
Refrigerate fresh blueberries when you get them home, in a covered bowl or container. Only wash your blueberries just before you start snacking, and eat them within 10 days of purchase (that’s the easy part!).
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.
Click here for 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, and make jams and jellies from fresh blueberries.
Contact us at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Miller County Extension office in the courthouse, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 870-779-3609. You can also get great tips on facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDueHadley, and twitter at @MillerCountyFCS.
One bite of these homemade blueberry muffins and you will know they did not come from a mix. Be careful not to overmix or you will end up with muffins that have a peaked, smooth top, that on the inside are dry and tough.
Homemade Blueberry Muffins
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons sugar if desired for sprinkling on tops
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease only the bottoms of 12 regular size muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat milk, oil and egg. Stir in flour and sugar all at once until the flour is moistened. Carefully fold in blueberries to avoid berries from busting and turning the dough blue. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. If desired, sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes in pan, then remove to cooling rack.
By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
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