Native to North America, blueberries have been around for more than 13,000 years – so they have deep roots in our country’s history. Today, we’re still reaping the health benefits of blueberries, and are discovering they have more to offer than our ancestors could have ever imagined.
The North American blueberry season and harvest runs from April to late September. Blueberries are very low in calories (only 80 in a full cup) and they are packed full of health benefits so don’t hold back, enjoy your blueberries. Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin C and are high in manganese. Vitamin C is necessary for growth and development of tissues and promotes wound healing. Manganese helps the body process cholesterol and nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein.
Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease and adds bulk to your diet, which may help you feel full faster.
They can be used as a natural food dye, and legend has it that early American colonists boiled them with milk to make gray paint. Perfect blueberries are dusty blue in color, so don’t rush off to rinse that dust away until you are ready to eat them as this will speed up the spoilage process.
In the early 20th century, people didn’t think blueberries could be domesticated, but Elizabeth White, the daughter of a New Jersey farmer, was determined to grow a flourishing industry for cultivated blueberries. In 1911, she teamed up with USDA botanist Frederick Coville to identify wild plants with the most desirable properties, and crossbred the bushes to create vibrant new blueberry varieties. Coville and White harvested and sold the first commercial crop of blueberries out of Whitesbog, N.J.