Blueberries are plump dots of tart sweetness. Hot-house, cultivated, and overseas blueberries are available year-round, but just-picked local berries are available in much of North America sometime between June and August.
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Wild blueberries tend to be smaller and have more concentrated flavor, cultivated blueberries are bigger and juicier, like those pictured here. Watch out, however, for flavorless blueberries, which have become all too common. Luckily, most vendors at farmers markets will give you a taste of their wares before you buy.
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Even perfectly ripe blueberries don't have much of a scent (especially when compared to other summer fruits), so use your eyes first: Look for dark blue blueberries that have a slight white-silvery bloom on them. Avoid purplish or greenish berries and pint containers that include them since it's a sign that the blueberries were picked indiscriminately and not at their peak.
Second, use your hand. Blueberries should feel heavy for their amount.
Third, give a few berries a taste. They should burst when you bite them and be tart but sweet.
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Like with most ultra-fresh fruit, blueberries may be at their best when eaten out-of-hand. But after a few pints of that, it's fun to start cooking with them. Here are a few easy, delicious recipes to get started:
- A Blueberry Fool couldn't be easier to make - just smashed blueberries and sweetened whipped cream. Yet it's elegant and delicious. It also works perfectly with frozen berries.
- A bit more work - but only a bit - will give you a simple but satisfying Blueberry Almond Crisp
- Who doesn't love Blueberry Muffins?
- Equally good is a hearty Blueberry Yogurt Cornmeal Cake
- Make breakfast delicious with Blueberry Turnovers
- Mix things up with Blueberry Shortcake
- Cool off with Blueberry Sorbet or Blueberry Ice Cream
- Keep things simple with a Blueberry and Jam Tart
- Go beyond dessert with a Blueberry and Blue Cheese Spinach Salad
- Those truly dedicated to making things from scratch can give making their own Blueberry Cordial a try!
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Pick through the blueberries when you get them home and remove any smashed, cut, or damaged blueberries (they will mold quickly and damage the other berries). Blueberries are best used as soon as possible. You can store them on the counter in a colander over a bowl with an ice pack in it to help keep them cool if you're going to eat them within a day or two. Otherwise, store them in an air-tight container in the fridge, but not in the drawer where it gets too humid. Just-picked blueberries will keep up to a week properly stored.
Note: Do not rinse or wash blueberries until you're ready to use them - the moisture will shorten their storage span considerably!Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Freezing your own ample blueberry harvest is super-easy. Rinse blueberries and pat them dry. Lay them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Put them in the freezer until frozen solid, usually overnight does it. Transfer to resealable plastic bags, squeezing out as much air as possible, and keep frozen until ready to use. For most baked goods, you can use the berries straight from the freezer - they'll defrost as the pie or tart or cake bakes. Frozen blueberries are also delicious with ice cream or frozen yogurt as a simple, fruity dessert.
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