Blueberry picking is a great way to spend an afternoon outdoors. It's fun, educational and has the added payoff of an abundance of delicious, sweet blueberries to enjoy in all kinds of baked goods and treats.
We headed off to Russell Orchards recently to spend a few hours out in their field picking blueberries (Reminder: It's greenhead season, so bring bug spray!). We were pleased to find an abundance of plump, ripe blueberries awaiting our arrival. 'B' found a bush that was loaded with these monster blueberries - the biggest I've ever seen. Some of them were so big that they were more like pieces of fruit than berries! We had some hardy picking on that particular bush, but we decided it would be best to leave some of the monsters for the other folks who would surely be along in the near future.
We picked a few pints and skedaddled out of there just ahead of some approaching thunderstorms. On the ride home we discussed what we were going to do with our cache of blue gold - blueberry ice cream, blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry bread, blueberry jam, blueberry pie. The list goes on... We decided to make blueberry bread for starters.
I did a little research on blueberries and found that there are basically two kinds of blueberry bushes - low bush ('wild') blueberries and high bush (cultivated) blueberries. While some blueberry picking farms do raise and cultivate some low bush blueberries, it is far more profitable to them to maintain a crop of high bush blueberries.If you find blueberries in the wild, they will most likely be of the low bush blueberry variety - hence the 'wild' reference (although 'native' would be more accurate).
Blueberries also have many health benefits. They have very high levels of antioxidants, leading some to claim that blueberries are a superfood. Many studies have been done with blueberries and the findings seem to show that eating blueberries has a litany of beneficial effects that include:
- Inhibiting mechanisms of cancer cell development
- Inhibiting inflammation in vitro
- Enhancing memory and learning in older adults
- Lowering brain damage during a stroke event
- Slowing the rate of cognitive decline for Alzheimer's patients
- Aiding in lowering blood sugar
- Alleviating symptoms of depression
- Lowering Cholesterol and lipid levels
- Possibly reducing the risk of heart disease
- Possibly regulating blood pressure
Blueberries are good for you, fun to pick and great to eat raw or as a part of any number of treats. Make sure to head out to your favorite wild blueberry patch or use visit one of the following blueberry picking spots open to the public on the North Shore: