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National Blueberry Month
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Jun 29, 2004, 18:00 PST

National Blueberry Month

Blueberry History in the United States
July was proclaimed National Blueberry Month
by the United States Department of Agriculture on May 8th, 1999. Blueberries are grown in 35 states in the US, and the United States produces over 90% of all of the blueberries in the world. They have been used in soups, stews and more, for centuries. According to Ark-LA-Tex, the Native Americans taught the pilgrims to use blueberries in many ways. Blueberries were dried in the sun and ground into a powder. The powder was used to make a pudding called Sautauthig, and it was used to season meat as a “spice rub.”

Blueberries And Your Health
The Native Americans also believed that these little blue berries were good for your health. Blueberry tea is supposed to help relax women during childbirth, leaves from the blueberry bush were used to make a blood purifier that was good for the kidneys, and blueberry juice was supposed to be good for coughs. Modern medicine also identifies the health benefits of blueberries. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the Rutgers Blueberry Cranberry Research Center in Chatsworth, N.J. found that blueberries help prevent infections in the urinary tract in much the same way that cranberries do. They may also help to prevent macular degeneration according to Ronald L. Prior, Ph.D., director of the USDA.

Did you know that eating blueberries could also be one of the keys to living to a ripe old age? Well, if you take a look at the research, foods that are rich in antioxidants are supposed to help reduce your chance of getting cancer and heart disease, and blueberries are loaded with them. Out of 40 different fruits, juices and vegetables, the blueberry comes in with the highest antioxidant level, according to the North american Blueberry Council. Just three and a half ounces of blueberries are equivalent to over 1700 International Units of vitamin E.

Freezing Blueberries
According to the North American Blueberry Council, you should not wash your blueberries before you freeze them. If you buy the berries in a pint box, simply wrap the box tightly in cellophane to make it airtight, or slip it into a resealable plastic bag (squeeze out as much air as possible). Then freeze. If you buy the berries in bulk, freeze them on a cookie sheet first and then transfer them into a freezer container. Keep frozen until ready to use.

Substitute Fresh Blueberries For Canned Blueberries
According to Texas Blueberries, “If a recipe calls for a can of blueberries, you may make your own by using 2-1/2 cups of fresh blueberries, 1 tablespoon of corn starch, 1-1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1/8 cup of water. Cook until thickened and clear. Cool before using as a substitute.”

To celebrate National Blueberry Month, try out some of these great recipes.

1. A Special Historic Recipe - Sautauhig
2. Blueberry Smoothies and Drinks
3. Blueberry Desserts

Blueberry Learning Links

Lesson Plan #1 - Blueberries Have Roots
How did early settlers learn to use blueberries?

Lesson Plan #2 - Blueberries Are Everywhere
This is a look at blueberry production in the United States.

Lesson Plan #3 - Blueberries: Field to Market
How do blueberries grow and how are they harvested?

Lesson Plans - Culinary
A. Highbush Blueberries
B. Blueberry History
C. Blueberry Nutrition
D. Handling Blueberries
E. Baking With Blueberries

Source: The US Highbush Blueberry Council

Blueberry Association Links
Visit these blueberry organization web sites for more information on the history of blueberries, their role in your health, how to grow the plants, and best of all how to eat them.

North American Blueberry Council

The United States Highbush Blueberry Council

Ark-La-Tex Blueberry Growers Association

Michigan Blueberry Growers Association

Wild Blueberries- The Power of Blue

Maine’s Wild Blueberry

Texas Blueberries

Wild Blueberries Producers Association of Nova Scotia

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