Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pick of the Week: Blueberries

It's week three of exploring Everyday Health's list of the 13 most powerful super foods. Today, we say good-by to the A's -- avocados and apples -- and turn our attention to one of my favorite fruits, blueberries.

The only thing bad about blueberries is usually the price. They made Everyday Health's list for many reasons:
  • Blueberries are anti-aging superstars -- love that! -- loaded with antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve brain function and vision. Everyday Health says that studies have shown that eating blueberries slows impairments in motor coordination and memory that accompany aging.
  • Blueberries reduce inflammation, which we have learned over the past decade is linked to just about every chronic disease, including Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  • Speaking of cancer, there are other studies that have shown that blueberries have much greater anticancer benefits than any other fruit.
  • And now for my favorite reason: They taste so good, and one cup is only 1 Weight Watchers Point.
Selecting: Since blueberries are packaged, there is no picking through to find the perfect ones. Blueberries should have a healthy purplish-blue color and be free of mold and soft spots.

Storing: Blueberries will keep as long as two weeks, but it's best to remove them from the packaging they come in, place them in a single layer in a container, and store in the refrigerator. If you keep them in the original packaging, check daily and eat the berries that are getting soft. Any moldy ones, immediately discard. Wash right before using.

Freezing: Wash blueberries and remove any stems. Place on baking sheet in freezer until solid; then pack in plastic containers or freezer bags, leaving about 1/2-inch of headspace.

The following recipe is from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, which the Council got from one of my favorite chefs, Carole Peck, chef/owner of the Good News Cafe in Woodbury, CT, a mainstay in that lovely town for at least two decades. The recipe even gives the formula for blueberry vinegar, which makes a perfect gift anytime of the year. When blueberries are in season, by some extra, make the blueberry vinegar, and you'll have a stash of holiday gifts ready to go!

1/2 cup sliced sweet red or white onion, rinsed
3/4 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
8 pitted fresh or dried apricot halves
5 Tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tblsp. blueberry vinegar, recipe follows
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups packed arugula
  • In a bowl, combine onion and salt; let stand at least 2 hours (can be prepped and refrigerated up to 3 days).
  • Preheat broiler or grill. If using dried apricots, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water; let stand 5 minutes; drain.
  • Arrange apricot halves on a broiler pan, skin side up; brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Broil until skins begin to brown, about 3 minutes Cool; cut in 1/4-inch slices; set aside.
  • To prepare blueberry dressing: In a cup, whisk the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons blueberry vinegar.
  • Rinse salted onion; drain. In a bowl, toss arugula with half the blueberry dressing; arrange on four serving plates.
  • In the same bowl, combine the blueberries and onion; toss with the remaining dressing; arrange on serving plates dividing equally. Garnish with apricot strips. Makes 4 servings.


1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups white wine vinegar
  • In a blender container, combine blueberries, sugar and vinegar. Blend until pureed; strain. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 cup.


  1. Love them!

    A less expensive alternative to pricy fresh blueberries are the bags of Wyman's Wild Maine blueberries you can purchase at Costco. It's a 3 or 4 lb. bag. Delicious when you blend a hand-ful with no-fat Fage Greek yogurt!
    Here's a favorite salad of mine - either from my mother or a long-ago restaurant meal. I always write down where recipes come from but forgot to this time:
    Autumn Salad

    4 1/2 oz. baby arugula or baby spinach

    1/2 pint (1 C.) fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained, or frozen blueberries, thawed in a single layer on a paper towel for 20 minutes

    1/4 C. smoked almonds, coarsely chopped (or slivered toasted almonds if smoked not available)
    1 Jonathan, Jonagold or similar apple, cored and cut into 1/2” cubes
    1/4 C. olive oil
    2 T. sherry vinegar
    freshly cracked pepper
    1/2 C. crumbled Gorgonzola or goat cheese

    Put the arugula, blueberries, almonds and apple cubes in a salad bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and a few twists from a pepper mill. Pour over salad and toss to blend. Sprinkle cheese on top, or serve on the side. Serve immediately.

  2. Just another reason for me to join Costco. Sherry vinegar really does make the best vinaigrette. Thanks so much for sharing! I'll report it tomorrow.