Blueberries are fruit which in the last few years have conquered consumers' palates all over the world. We are taking here specifically about high bush blueberries. This plant belongs to Ericaceae family, its shrubs grow maximally up to 2 meters tall. It's got widely spread shoots and white flowers. Its berries are characterised by special size - they are much bigger than fruits of wild blueberries, but at the same time, they taste similar. However, contrary to its smaller cousin - their juice doesn't leave stains. Highbush blueberries bloom in the second half of May, and they ripen from the beginning of July till the end of September, depending on the cultivar.
Cultivation of blueberries
The USA is a homeland of this popular berry. Blueberry is a relatively young fruit. Even in the 19th century, on the American continent it was present in wild in such an abundance that its crops were able to completely satisfy the demand at that time. The dynamic development of civilisation and the rapid demographic growth were at the cause of a growing demand for wildly growing berries. However, the first attempts to adopt blueberries for cultivation ended up with failure. It was caused by the specific demands of the plant related to acidity of soil. Therefore, highbush blueberry became present in orchards for good, as late as in the thirties of the 20th century, after botanists' many years of attempts.
Currently over 80% of blueberry plantations are located in North America, mainly in the United States and Canada. What's interesting - more than half of their harvest goes to the processing industry, while in almost all other parts of the world this berry is produced mainly for the market of fresh consumption fruit.
Poland is the biggest producer of blueberries in Europe, and the third biggest in the world (right after the United States and Canada). First attempts to cultivate this fruit in Poland took place in 1924. Nowadays, 80 percent of Polish production is destined for exports.
The most frequent distinction of different blueberry cultivars is the season of ripening of their berries. They are divided into early-season, medium-late and late-season cultivars. The following are the popular cultivars:
- Earlublue, Bluetta, Patriot, Duke and Spartan these are cultivars which ripen the earliest;
- Bluejay or Bluecrop, are the late - season varieties,
- Darrow, Brigitta and Bluegold ripen last.
Blueberries in kitchen
Blueberries have vast culinary use, they can be served as an addition to dishes, smoothies or desserts. Moreover, they are a perfect products for making preserves, jams and juices. They also work perfectly as filling for dumplings, potato dumplings, but also as addition to pastas. Delicious liqueurs, cordials and wines are made on the basis of these fruit. However, the consumption of raw or dried fruit is simplest and the most frequently practised.
Other uses for blueberries
Blueberry fruits become more and more popular ingredients of beauty products, and they are used for a wider scale, for example in South Korea or America, where they are commonly referred as to "skin food". Taking into account the fact that they contain vitamins and minerals they make perfect ingredients of nourishing masks or body butters. Lack of a distinct smell, like in case of blackcurrants, causes that the neutral aroma of such products is preferred by many consumers.