Ontario has two basic types: lowbush and highbush. The lowbush grows wild and is cultivated in Ontario. Highbush blueberries grow up 6-8 feet in height.
Highbush berry plants are sensitive to winter damage, but their fruit is larger than the lowbush variety.
Blueberries are a source of Vitamin C and fibre; one-half cup contains 41 calories.
Blueberries are native to North America with large stands in the Maritimes and coastal New England.
In 1976, the highbush berries began to be cultivated in Ontario.
Surprisingly, acid rain has stimulated the growth of natural stands of lowbush berries in some inland areas by reducing the pH level of the soil.
Buying and storing
Look for fairly firm, sweet-smelling berries with no signs of mould or mildew and no crushed berries in the box. Purchase the smaller lowbush blueberries as fresh as possible.
Store, loosely covered, in the refrigerator. Use the berries within two weeks, but preferably as soon as possible.
For optimum flavour, bring refrigerated blueberries to room temperature before serving.
Highbush and Lowbush berries freeze well in the same fashion as raspberries and strawberries (whole, in a single layer).
Many people enjoy fresh blueberries as they are or with a splash of cream.
Blueberries cook extremely well, and are featured in many time-honoured regional recipes for crumbles, buckles, grunts, cobblers, muffins, jam and even blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup.
Blueberry pie is an all-time favourite. The best pie berries are said to be those of the lowbush variety.
- Do not wash before freezing. Stem.
- Pack without sugar or syrup. Place on a tray and freeze until firm. Pack in freezer bag. Wash before serving.