Family Matters with Denise Zeringue
Louisiana blueberries are a tasty way to fight disease
Blueberries and other brightly colored berries contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and phytochemicals, which are nonnutritive substances in plants that promote health and prevent chronic disease.
Antioxidants are phytochemicals that help neutralize harmful by-products of metabolism called free radicals that contribute to heart disease and other diseases.
Blueberries are nature's number one source of antioxidants among fresh fruits and vegetables according to the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.
Anthocyanins, the pigments giving blueberries their deep blue hue, act as antioxidants, which may provide many health benefits. In addition, blueberries are a low-calorie food – only 40 calories in one-half cup. They also are a good source of vitamin C and fiber.
In addition, blueberries contain compounds that may help to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), according to a report from the Rutgers Blueberry Cranberry Research Center in Chatsworth, New Jersey.
The compounds, called condensed tannins, can keep the bacteria responsible for UTIs from attaching to the linings of the urinary and digestive tracts.
The Rabbiteye blueberry is most successfully grown in the South. Some varieties of Rabbiteye blueberries begin ripening the first week of June and others through the early part of July. Blueberries from other parts of the country are plentiful in supermarkets in July and August.
"The soils in many parts of Louisiana tend to be acid, and this is perfect for growing Rabbiteye blueberries," according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. He says blueberry bushes are excellent for small gardens, since they stay much smaller than most fruit trees. Plants need a spacing of only about 6 feet.
Gill recommends the blueberry cultivars Tifblue, Woodard, Climax, Premier and Choice. Southern highbush blueberry cultivars, such as Cooper, Gulfcrest, Blue Ridge and Cape Fear, are other options.
Look for berries that are dark blue, with a frosty bloom. Store fresh blueberries in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, and wash them just before you use them, not ahead of time or they'll get mushy.
Loose-pack frozen blueberries are available year-round, and you can use them in any recipe that calls for fresh blueberries. Since they are pre-washed, they can be used right from the package.
Blueberries should be plump and firm with a dark blue color and waxy, silvery "bloom." Sweetness varies by variety. Blueberries do not ripen after harvest, so as soon as you buy them, you can eat them. One pint of berries will provide four to five servings of fresh uncooked fruit.
Storage and preparation. Handle fruit gently to avoid bruising. Bruising shortens the life of fruit and contributes to low quality. Sort carefully and remove berries that are too soft or decayed. Store berries loosely in a shallow container to allow air circulation and to prevent the berries on top from crushing those underneath.
Do not wash berries before refrigerating. Store covered containers of berries in a cool, moist area of the refrigerator, such as in the hydrator (vegetable keeper), to help extend the usable life of the fruit. Recommended storage time is three to five days.
Before eating berries or using in your favorite recipe, wash berries gently in cold water, lift out of water and drain.
Freeze blueberries without washing. When washed before freezing, blueberry skins become tough. To freeze, remove stems and trash, package tightly in freezer bags or containers or glass jars, leaving one-half inch headspace. Seal airtight and freeze. Remove from freezer, rinse in cold water and use immediately.
Use frozen berries directly from the freezer. There's no need to thaw them if you use them in baked products, except for pancakes. Pancakes may not cook thoroughly in the center if the berries are frozen. Microwave the amount you need for a few seconds to thaw.
Here are some tips for serving blueberries.
Toss blueberries into your favorite hot or cold cereal, add blueberries when making pancakes, muffins, breakfast breads and waffles, add blueberries to non-fat yogurt, or pile blueberries into a cantaloupe half.
Eat blueberries out of hand, make a blueberry blender drink with non-fat yogurt, mix blueberries with non-fat cottage cheese, drop frozen blueberries in sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink.
Sprinkle blueberries into fruit or green salads; make a tangy blueberry sauce to serve with poultry, fish and meat.
Serve a dish of blueberries for dessert or use blueberries as a topping for low-fat ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, fruit or angel food cake. Bake a blueberry cobbler or pie. Make blueberry sauce and use as a topping on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, pudding or angel food cake.
Serves 8 (1/4-cup servings). Ingredients: 2 cups fresh or frozen wild blueberries, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1/2 cup water, l teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon.
Directions: Add water to berries; heat until warm. Combine cornstarch, sugar and cinnamon; stir into berry mixture. Stir and cook until mixture is thickened and clear. Add lemon juice and mix.
Got a question or comment for the LSU Agcenter’s Deniese Zeringue? Email her a firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a call at 985-785-4473.
Subscribe Today and Save!!!
St. Charles Herald-Guide is an award-winning newspaper that covers all aspects of St. Charles Parish - from schools and parish government news to social events, features on our local residents and sports.
Order your subscription today!
St. Charles Parish school officials are working to persuade voters to pull the...
Sidney K. Smith, wanted in connection with Saturday's murder of Warren Sanders of...
The man arrested in connection with the shooting of Corp. Burt Hazeltine has been...
Just days after being shot three times while directing traffic in Paradis, Cpl....
“Disgusting! This is a proven case of ‘who you are and the pull you have with the...
An anonymous tip led the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office to the arrest of a...
The way hardware stores used to and should be is right here in St. Charles. Prompt courteous service from the moment you walk in. Experienced staff eager to assist you find what you need for your next project. Propane refills, U-Haul Rentals available
Police: Destrehan woman runs down ex with car - 4325 views
A Destrehan woman who got into an argument with her ex-boyfriend tried to resolve the conflict by hitting him with her car.