When I was nine, my grandparents moved from the Chicago area, near where we lived, to Michigan. At first, the prospect of their being so far away upset me. Then, on our first visit up
there, in late June, we detoured by a blueberry farm. As we picked and grazed and
planned what to do with the sweet, juicy fruit once we arrived at their new house,
I found myself smiling. Blueberries can make anyone smile.
While an old saying claims that apple pie is about as American as you can get,
I think the phrase should say instead, “as American as blueberry cobbler.” Both
the apple and the pie trace their origins to Europe. The blueberry is native only
to North America. Its European cousin, the bilberry, a smaller plant and berry—
purple to blue throughout—has not lent itself as easily to cultivation or farming
for market. Both berries, though, have similar health benefits.
The reason for those benefits stem largely from the pigment anthocyanin, the
amazing antioxidant that gives both berries their color. This antioxidant is so
potent that you would have to eat five apples to gain the antioxidant equivalent of
1/2 cup (half a standard serving) of fresh blueberries. This gives us yet another
reason to favor the all-American berry. Dose for dose, the blueberry’s antioxidant
value is nearly fifty times as potent as Vitamin E and offers ten times the protection as Vitamin C—all this, and about eighty calories for a cup.
While wild blueberries have long played a part in the American diet, likely
gracing the table of the first Thanksgiving in a dried form, they haven’t been
cultivated that long. In fact, this year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the
first successful commercial crop of farmed blueberries. For that contribution to
the grocery store produce section, we can thank Elizabeth White, the daughter
of a New Jersey cranberry farmer, who experimented with blueberries, and the
botanist Frederick Coville, who was determined to find a way to make blueberries into a crop food.
Together, they began experimental trials on
the White farm in 1911. By 1912, they had
already discovered the best blueberries to
work with. And by 1916, they were selling
blueberries to the eager public.*
From that point, the blueberry took off and
blueberry recipes abounded. With more
available fruit, blueberries could be added
to pancakes, made into cobblers, pies, jellies, muffins, or just eaten by the handful.
The blueberry had arrived en masse and
America was grateful for its addition.
As wonderful as they are, you do not
want to overconsume blueberries. Their
soluble fiber is known for absorbing liquids in the small intestine. While
this is great for either daily regularity or treating diarrhea, too much of this good
thing could stop you up and make life uncomfortable for a while. Aim for no
more than two to three servings of fresh blueberries in a single day. And don’t eat
to know about
Author Melissa K. Norris shares
her love and knowledge of
blueberries in this delicious
Molly Green Bite-Sized™ Guide!
Planting and pruning
Dealing with pests and
Dehydrating and canning
Molly Green Members can pick it
up for free in the Member Center.
Or purchase in the Mercantile at