Blueberries offer tremendous health benefits for entire family
It’s time to paint the town blue. This coming weekend all roads lead to Jenning’s Park in Brewton for the 39th annual Alabama Blueberry Festival.
The festival will be held June 15 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be a day full of good wholesome food, fun and entertainment for the entire family. If you are not familiar with Brewton, just follow the signs and look for the old Ritz Movie Theatre Marquee in downtown Brewton where Hwy 31 and Hwy 41 intersect. (Jennings Park is right behind the Marquee) or you can just follow the people…just about everyone I know will be at the park.
There will be fresh blueberries and blueberry bushes for sale, arts and crafts, antique/classic car show, live entertainment, festival cookbooks, lots of Blueberry Ice Cream and food galore. There also will be a special children’s section including shuttle train, rock wall, inflatables, obstacle course, petting zoo and face painting. So, be sure to load up the family and head to Brewton, for a day of great family fun. For more information call the Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce at 251-867-3224 or go to or go to the Alabama Blueberry Festival Facebook page.
The Center for Disease Control calls them a powerhouse fruit; the Mayo Clinic calls them a Superfood – but we just call them delicious and nutritious. Blueberries can be classified as a convenience food because there is no pitting, peeling, or waste. A pint serves four people generously, and a cup serving of blueberries contains only about 80 calories but are packed with nutrients. Blueberries have many health benefits, including helping to reduce blood pressure, helping prevent cancer, and boosting your immune system. They are known as “brain food,” high in antioxidants, dietary fiber, a good source of vitamins C – one serving provides 25 percent of your daily requirements. Blueberries are also high in manganese, (typically found in fruit and vegetables with dark colored skins) helps prevent osteoporosis and inflammation in your joints. It’s especially beneficial for women and the elderly. Just think, shiny, plump blueberries are a healthy snack for the entire family.
Blueberries are versatile fruits and can be eaten fresh, frozen, dried, or added to cereals, salads, yogurt, ice cream, a great snack and more.
Blueberries are not as perishable as most other berries. While other berries keep their quality only a day or two after you pick or buy them, blueberries will keep about a week if they are handled properly. Use care in working with blueberries— they do bruise easily. Put blueberries in a plastic container and refrigerate as soon as possible. Do not wash blueberries until you are ready to use them. The added moisture will hasten the growth of mold on the berries.
Only ripe, full-flavored berries should be used for freezing. To freeze, placed them unwashed, on a cookie sheet and freeze. Then place them in quart-size freezer bags to use later. Don’t forget to label them. (Washing before freezing results in a tougher-skinned product).
However, if blueberries are washed before freezing, you should sort the berries then rinse them quickly in a colander with cool running water. After rinsing the berries, pat them dry with a paper towel and spread them on a metal tray in a single layer (otherwise they will stick together if frozen wet). Then freeze them until they are solid. Finally, pack the berries in freezer bags/containers, and label the containers. Blueberries may also be frozen in containers or covered with 40 percent syrup (3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water). Here are some delicious ways to enjoy blueberries:
• Make a quick parfait by layering yogurt, low-fat granola and blueberries in whatever proportions you’d like in a small container. Then repeat ingredients until you reach the desired quantity.
• Blueberries can be used in smoothies, crumbles, cobblers, yogurts or ice creams
• Blend a couple of small pieces of frozen blueberries, 3/ 4 cup of juice and a half cup of vanilla or other flavored yogurt for a quick smoothie.
• Sprinkle fresh blueberries on cereal, ice cream, melons or meringue shells.
• Use blueberry sauce on vanilla pudding or ice cream.
• Make blueberry crepes. Place sweetened blueberries sprinkled with lemon juice in the center on freshly cooked crepes and roll the crepes. Top with whipped cream and more berries or a blueberry sauce.
• Stir blueberries into pancake, waffle or cake batter.
Fun Facts about Blueberries:
• The perfect blueberry should have a “dusty” appearance
• Don’t wash your blueberries until you are ready to eat them
• Recent studies show that blueberries may have a potential to aid in memory loss, vision loss and even slow down the aging process
• Blueberries are known as “brain food”
• Blueberries are relatives of the rhododendron family
• Native Americans recognized the nutritional value of blueberries and used them for medicinal purposes as well as flavorings
• Early American Colonists used blueberries to dye fabric and also to color paint. Source: FACTY/FACTS, UF/IFAS Resources for Blueberries
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