Blueberries are a very versatile fruit they can be made to put on anything meat, cake, pies etc. Blueberries are also high in essential vitamins that people need to survive and be healthy, So who ever thought that this one little berry could do so much.<br />
Blueberry background<br />Blueberries are flowering plants of the genus Vaccinum with dark-blue, -purple or black berries. Species in the section Cyanococcus are the most common fruits sold as "blueberries" and are mainly native to North America]. They are usually erect but sometimes prostrate shrubs varying in size from 10 cm tall to 4 m tall. In commercial blueberry production, smaller species are known as "lowbush blueberries" (synonymous with "wild"), and the larger species as "highbush blueberries". The leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen, ovate to lanceolot, and from 1–8 cm long and 0.5–3.5 cm broad. The flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red, sometimes tinged greenish.<br />WIKIPEDIA<br />
Cultivation<br />Blueberries may be cultivated, or they may be picked from semi-wild or wild bushes. In North America, the most common species of blueberry is the Northern high bush blueberry. This blueberry gets its name due to the high that the bush can grow. Low bush blueberries are smaller than cultivated high bush ones, Most of the low bush blueberries are grown in Maine and the Canadian Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. <br />
Cultivation cont. <br />Trees and other competing vegetation are removed and the site is managed to encourage low bush blueberry growth while weeds and other vegetation are removed or suppressed. Original planting were logged and or burned to remove all the above ground vegetation then new shoots would sprout from below ground. Where low bush blueberries were common in the forest understory many or most of these shoots would be from blueberry plants. After several years the site would be burned again so that eventually the site would become a pure planting of low bush blueberries. <br />
Growing areas<br />United States<br />Maine produces 25% of all lowbush blueberries in North America, making it the largest producer in the world. The Maine crop requires about 50,000 beehives for pollination, with most of the hives being trucked in from other states for that purpose.Many towns in Maine lay claim to being the blueberry capitaland several festivals are centered around the blueberry. The wild blueberry is the official fruit of Maine and is often as much a symbol of Maine as the lobster. While Maine is the leader of lowbush blueberry production in the United States, Michigan is the leader in highbushproduction.In 1998, Michigan farms produced 49 million pounds of blueberries, accounting for 32% of the small, round berries eaten in the United States.<br />
Growing areas Cont.<br />Canada<br />Canadian exports of blueberries in 2007 were $323 million, the largest fruit crop produced nationally, occupying more than half of all Canadian fruit acreage.Among the most productive growing regions in the world, British Columbia is the largest Canadian producer of highbush blueberries, yielding 63 million pounds (29 million kg) in 2004and over $100 million in 2008 revenues.<br />
Growing areas Cont.<br />Europe<br />Highbush blueberries were first introduced to Germany and the Netherlands in the 1930s and have since been spread to Poland, Italy, Hungary and other countries of Europe.<br />"Many growers in France, Austria, and Italy realized too that it pays to cultivate highbush blueberries, and that good economic gain can be obtained," according to an industry researcher. "Even in Belgium and Norway, some very promising trials with special methods of blueberry cultivation resulted in a limited commercial production which is very successful. …Except in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Spain, a blueberry industry is developing in all regions where the production is possible due to the climatic and edaphic conditions.<br />
Health benafits<br />Wild blueberries Health benefits in the past, research examining the power of wild blueberries indicated these berries may mitigate brain damage in stroke victims. Other research indicated wild blueberries are rich in antioxidants and anthocyanosides, which may help preserve vision, kill bacteria that cause diarrhea, and prevent or relieve upper urinary tract and bladder infections.<br />
Health benafits Cont.<br />. Wild Blueberries and cranberries have unique compounds that block infectious bacteria from clinging to the cell lining in the urinary tract and bladder. Bladder or urinary tract infections, also known as cystitis, are usually caused by common Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria that get into the upper urinary tract, the urethra and bladder. It is important to note it is possible to have cystitis symptoms without an infection if the bladder becomes irritated. And as to preserving vision, wild blueberries unique compound anthocyanosides has been found in clinical studies to slow down visual loss. Other research indicates wild blueberries also have antiviral activity, are high in natural aspirin and are bursting with vitamins, especially vitamin C and E, and are an excellent source of fiber.<br />
Eating blueberries<br />The best part about blueberries is that they are delicious. There are many ways to consume blueberries. Blueberries add a sharp sweet taste to cakes and pies. They are also nutritional and even thought to prevent disease. Blueberries can be used fresh or frozen. Here are just some ways people eat blueberries. “Eat fresh blueberries raw or cover the fresh berries with melted chocolate. You can eat them with the chocolate still warm or you can put them in the fridge until the chocolate cools and hardens.” Or you can add blueberries to muffins and cakes. Blueberries taste good in plain muffins, bran or oatmeal muffins. You can also add blueberries to a plain cake mix for extra taste and color. Add blueberries to plain cookies or oatmeal cookies instead of raisins or chocolate chips... Some people even Mash blueberries and cook them in a pot on the stove until boiled. Add sugar and pectin according to canning recipes to make jam or jelly. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Or leave out the pectin to make blueberry sauce and pour over ice cream or pancakes.<br />
Blueberry history<br />The Northeast Native American tribes revered blueberries and much folklore developed around them. The blossom end of each berry forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star; the elders of the tribe would tell of how the Great Spirit sent "star berries" to relieve the children's hunger during a famine. Blueberries were also used for medicinal purposes along with the leaves and roots. A tea made from the leaves of the plant was thought to be good for the blood. Blueberry juice was used to treat coughs. The juice also made an excellent dye for baskets and cloth. In food preparation, dried blueberries were added to stews, soups, and meats. The dried berries were also crushed into a powder and rubbed into meat for flavor. A beef jerky called Sautauthig was made with dried blueberries and meat and was consumed year round. <br />
History Cont.<br />During the seventeenth century, settlers from England arrived in the New World to begin colonies. Immediately, they set about clearing the land and establishing farms. the land and the climate were far different from what they left behind. Many early attempts at farming failed.<br />In the winter of 1620, the Pilgrims established a settlement at Plimoth. Many died during the first few months, but those that survived went on to build homes and establish farms. Their neighbors, the Indians taught the settlers new skills that helped them survive. They showed them how to plant corn and how to gather and use native plants to supplement their food supplyOne important native crop was blueberries. The colonists learned from Native Americans how to gather blueberries, dry them under the sun and store them for the winter. In time, blueberries became an important food source and were preserved, and later canned. A beverage made with blueberries was an important staple for Civil War Soldiers. In the 1880s a blueberry canning industry began in the Northeast USA.<br />
Conclusion<br />Blueberries are a very powerful food and there is a lot of history behind them. I hope next time you eat one you think of the long journey they take from seed to plate.<br />
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