Delicious Blueberries Are Nutritious
Blueberries make up 59% of fruit grown in Canada and are available fresh from July to September and they’re available frozen all year.
How are blueberries harvested?
They can be machine harvested to be frozen or handpicked to be used fresh. Machine harvesting involves various shaking mechanisms and is used for highbush blueberries. Hand-operated rakes are used for harvesting lowbush blueberries.
How to pick your own blueberries
Pick your own blueberries by using the clusters blueberries grow in to your advantage and looking for fresh, ripe berries.
- Blueberries grow in bunches and the easiest way to pick them is to hold a bucket under them and gently rub a bunch of berries with your other hand. The ripe ones will fall into the bucket and the unripe ones will stay attached to the bush.
- Redish berries are not quite ripe and have a tart flavour but can be used in baking.
- Choose plump, dry, firm blueberries with smooth skins that have a silvery sheen.
- Do not pick soft or shriveled berries.
- Bigger berries do not mean more flavour.
They’re good for you
Blueberries can help heart health, bone strength, skin health, blood pressure, diabetes management, cancer prevention, and mental health.
One cup of blueberries provides 24 percent of a person recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
Popular types of blueberries in Canada
Lowbush, or wild, blueberries, and highbush, or cultivated blueberries are enjoyed across Canada.
Lowbush blueberries, or Vaccinium angustifolium, are grown in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec. They are smaller than highbush blueberries with a more intense blueberry taste and more fiber, antioxidants, and anthocyanins. Anthocyanins give blueberries their colour and have health benefits like antioxidative and antimicrobial effects, a positive impact on neurological and visual health, and protection against non-communicable diseases.
Highbush blueberries, or Vaccinium corymbosum, are grown in British Columbia and Ontario. Some popular kinds of highbush blueberries include Duke, Bluecrop, and Elliot.
Duke blueberries are an early-season type of blueberry. It is an upright, stocky, open and heavy-producing bush. Duke blueberries bloom late and produce fruit early and consistently. They are harvested in two picks. The berries are large, firm, and light blue, maintain their flavor when frozen, and are suitable for fresh or frozen shipping.
Bluecrop blueberries are harvested mid-season and need pruning to prevent overproduction. They can be processed or used fresh. They are harvested in three to four picks. The blueberries are light blue, firm, and large with good flavour.
Elliot blueberries are a very late variety for fresh market. Their bushes are consistently productive with medium size firm, light blue fruit with a slightly tart flavour. The berries are good for storage.