Wild blueberries are in season now, so it is the perfect time to stock up and maybe IQF a big batch. The wild blueberry is quite different from its cultivated cousin. Think a freshly picked, local heirloom tomato versus a pithy January ho-hum number trucked in from Tomatoland, or little wild strawberries compared to the mutant monsters that sit haplessly garnishing an insipid dessert.
photos courtesy of the Evergreen Brickworks’ Annual Wild Blueberry Festival
It is a rugged little berry, much smaller than the farmed variety. As the name implies, wild blueberries cannot be cultivated. In Canada they grow mostly in Eastern provinces like Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. where the nights are cool, and days alternate between prolonged sunny spells and lots of rain. They like glacial soils, and many aver that the best berries grow on long abandoned farmland.
Wild blueberries are sweet and tangy, packed with a unique “wild” flavour. In addition, wild blueberries are considered to be the number one antioxidant among fruits, vegetables and berries.
Because they are so small, there are more berries per kilogram than their cultivated counterpart. More berries means more skins, and that is where much of the goodness is.
They are often considered one of nature’s “Superfoods.” Wild bluberries are packed with potent antioxidants called anthocyanins which give the berry its characteristic blue colour, and are generally believed to protect against memory loss, Alzheimer’s as well as improving motor skills. Furthermore, wild blueberries are considered to contain anti-inflammatory properties and counter the effects of cancer, heart disease and aging. This is all great news, but the real reason to eat your fair share of wild blueberries is that they are delicious. Their small shape means they hold up well in pancakes, muffins, bettys, buckles and fools and do not disintegrate into mush when you make that quintessential summer pie.
Speaking of pie, the Wild Blueberry Festival is on at the Brickworks tomorrow. Make sure you check out the Blueberry Pie Bake-Off. For great blueberry recipes and more health facts check out the official website here.