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Health Benefits, Uses, and Proper Storage of Blueberries

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Learn all the great uses and benefits of this amazing super food.

Learn all the great uses and benefits of this amazing super food.

Blueberry Benefits and Uses

The blueberry is commonly referred to as a super food. Some nutritionists go as far as saying that if you are going to make one change to your diet, it should be to add blueberries.

They contain the same amount of antioxidants as five whole servings of other fruits and vegetables.

This article takes a look at what the antioxidants in blueberries do for the human body, how we can use them fresh and frozen, and how to properly store them to keep them at peak flavor.

Facts About Blueberries

Blueberries are one of the few fruits native to North America, and a significant amount of their berry production in the United States comes from Maine and Michigan.

There are two common varieties sold commercially the smaller variety "lowbush" (wild) variety and the larger "highbush" variety.

  • Size: Blueberries are a perennial flowering plant that vary in size from 4 inches up to 13 feet. These plants usually bear their fruits during the middle of their growing season. However, local conditions will affect the fruiting times. This means that some bush varieties can fruit from May to August, depending on their region.
  • Popularity: The blueberry is one of the most popular berries in America, falling second after the strawberry. The most popular muffin in America is, of course, blueberry.
  • Color: They are one of the only natural foods that are truly blue in color.
  • Also known as: "star berries" by Native Americans, as the shape left by the flower creates a star-like pattern.

Growing Blueberries

Blueberries are some of the easiest fruits to grow, in my opinion. They are very picky about the soil and require acidic soil that is high in organic matter and well drained. However, these soil conditions are easy to manipulate if you are willing to put in the time. These plants also do very well in pots which makes manipulating the soil so much easier.

Today there are several varieties which make it easier to grow them all over the world. The hybrid varieties have qualities of both the high and low bush varieties which result in a more versatile and accepting plant.

Most blueberry varieties are self-fertilizing. However, your crop will be larger and of better quality if you choose at least two different varieties. Different varieties encourage cross-pollination, resulting in larger, juicier, and more tasty berries. You can also lengthen your growing season by picking varieties that have different growing seasons. As long as your varieties share at least one or two months, they will cross-pollinate and give you a much larger yield.

Before purchasing blueberry bushes, be sure to find a reputable place and ensure that you are getting plants that are one to two years old. You want to make sure your plants are roughly this old because it is recommend to not allow the plant to bear fruit for the first few years. By pinching back or pruning the blossoms, you can encourage and stimulate new growth while allowing the plant to mature.

If you need help finding a reputable nursery, I would highly recommend checking out They are a great website that sells one-to-two-year-old plants and will guarantee your satisfaction. The plants are also guaranteed for a full year, so if one happens to die or you are simply not happy with the purchase, they will give you your money back, in-house credit, or a new plant to replace your old one. I buy all of my fruits, vegetables, and flowers from this site and absolutely wouldn't think to go anywhere else. They sell several varieties and you can find the best ones for your region through their US hardiness zone link. They also include information about how to best use the different varieties they sell. This comes in handy, because some varieties are sweeter and other varieties are more tart making them perfect for baking and pies.



It has taken many years, however the long wait for your first harvest is well worth it and finally over. As a general rule, most plants will be ready for harvesting from July to August. The key to harvesting blueberries is to be patient. Once the berries start turning blue let them sit for a few more days before picking. When the berries are ripe they should fall right off into your hand with a slight twist or pull. If they don't, they are not quite ready to be harvested.

After about 6 years your plants will have reached their full potential, meaning they will continue to produce a harvest of that size for the next 10 to 14 years! That's right, blueberry plants can produce fruit for up to 20 years and beyond when cared for properly. All that patience does pay off in the end!

Blueberries are some of the easiest fruits to freeze, so if you find yourself with too many continue reading below and find out how to properly store your fruit to maintain its freshness.

Caring for Blueberries

  • Blueberries have a shallow root system and benefit from mulching. Mulching should be done at the time of planting and be about 2 to 4 inches deep.
  • Water is also a very important part of caring for these plants. These plants need about 2 inches of water per week to keep their shallow roots healthy.
  • Fertilizing should be done about a month after the bushes are potted. If you are putting them straight in the ground it is recommended to mix fertilizer with the ground soil right away to ensure that you are creating the right pH and acidity for your plants.
  • Before your plant bears fruit it is not necessary to prune them. After roughly 4 years or after the first growing season you will want to prune the plants in late winter to encourage new growth for the season's new berries.

Health Benefits of Blueberries

There are many advantages of adding blueberries to your diet. They are known to be rich in vitamins and minerals and for having a wide array of other health benefits. In addition to being one of the richest sources of antioxidants, they are known to help with the following:

  • They are rich in dietary fiber, phytochemicals, and other nutrients that reduce the risk of certain cancers.
  • It has been shown that blueberries help protect the retina from sunlight and unwanted oxygen damage.
  • They have many cognitive benefits, including an improvement in memory.
  • When eaten regularly, they help fight urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and constipation.

With roughly 80 calories per cup and nearly no fat, blueberries offer some noteworthy nutritional benefits.

If you are interested in other health benefits, the American Institute for Cancer Research has some excellent resources.

Nutrition Info for One Cup of Blueberries

Percent of daily requirement is for adults or children over the age of 4.

NutrientsImportancePercent of Daily Requirement

Vitamin K

Builds bones and protects the heart


Vitamin C

Maintains healthy gums



Helps with bone development


Dietary fiber

Helps to keep heart healthy and to lower cholesterol


Fresh storebought blueberries

Fresh storebought blueberries

Frozen blueberries I use

Frozen blueberries I use

Uses of Blueberries

Fresh and frozen berries can be used in a variety of recipes. The great thing about frozen blueberries is that, although the fruit is frozen, the berry does not lose its nutrients. Of course, however, they are best enjoyed in their raw form.

Best Uses for Fresh

  1. Jams/jellies
  2. Muffins, pancakes, and pies: When making muffins and pancakes coating your blueberries in a little flour will keep them from sinking to the bottom.
  3. Added to yogurt or cereal
  4. Sauce: Perfect for pouring over cheesecakes, ice cream, and other various desserts. Blueberry sauces are also a great addition to turkey and chicken dishes as well.

Best Uses for Frozen

  1. Smoothies
  2. Flavoring Drinks: Frozen fruits added to a pitcher of juice adds an extra flavor. Frozen fruits work well for this because when they thaw the fruit's flavor spreads faster and over a wider area.
  3. Snacking: Your fingers might start turning blue, however eating a bowl of frozen berries makes a sweet and yummy treat.
  4. Baking: Many might not like the texture of thawed frozen fruits and a great way to get around this is to put your frozen fruits into baked desserts.

These are just some of my favorite ways to use blueberries. Check out the recipe below for a delicious blueberry smoothie.

My blueberry smoothie!

My blueberry smoothie!

Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

This simple yet delicious smoothie is perfect for a pick me up breakfast, mid-day snack, or anytime. With only 3 ingredients and 10 minutes of your time, you can have a perfect smoothie.


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup yogurt (I prefer strawberry yogurt from Yoplait)
  • 1 heaping cup frozen blueberries


  1. Put all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Pulse until all ingredients are mixed together.
  3. Pour smoothie into your desired glass or cup and enjoy!

Yields: 1 delicious smoothie


There are a few ways to store blueberries, however if you want the best taste from your berries these tips will give you just that.

  • Don't wash before storing.
  • Keep them in a refrigerator or freeze them to keep them from ripening and getting soft.
  • Put fresh berries in a bowl or on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap to keep them fresher longer.
  • When freezing put them in a freezer bag leaving extra space and seal tight.

Storing your blueberries properly will ensure that you get the full life and best flavor every time.

Blueberries are a fruit that we can enjoy year round. From the great health benefits to the never ending uses, consuming blueberries is a great way to eat healthy and happily. Next time you're looking for a snack grab a handful and enjoy.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: How long do fresh blueberries last?

Answer: When stored properly blueberries will last 1 -2 weeks. To get the longest shelf life out of your blueberries move them to an air tight container and keep them in the refrigerator . Do not wash/rinse them until just before eating. They can also be frozen for up to a year.

© 2012 Cholee Clay