blueberry [bloo-ber-ee, -buh-ree] noun
Vaccinium myrtillus. The dark blue fruit that grows on a blueberry shrub, one of the few native American fruits. Early settlers cherished these berries for their wonderful flavor. Today, blueberries are highly regarded for their high concentration of antioxidants, which help to neutralize the harmful byproducts of metabolism called “free radicals” that can lead to cancer and aging diseases. Anthocyanin, the pigment that gives blueberries their color, is thought to be responsible for this major health benefit.
Blueberries have a characteristic film called “bloom” which provides a natural waterproof coating to keep the skin soft and firm, adding a silvery hue to the dark berry. It is harmless and even desirable, and will be found on very fresh berries. Ripe blueberries should be plump, dry, and firm with a deep purple or black finish. Discard any green berries, as they will not continue to ripen. The ventilated containers that they usually come in are perfect for storing; refrigerate and eat within a few days. They are at their peak months in June, July and August.