The Wonderful World of Blueberries

Posted by Ann Wildes at

Long before the Europeans arrived in the New World, the native tribes of North America gathered a variety of wild sapphire-colored berries as a food staple.  The Indians called these fruits "star berries", because of the star-shaped calyx on the top of each berry. Today we know them as "blueberries".

These blueberries grew in the understory of the forests, in meadows cleared by burns and other places where acid soils were present. The Indians ate the berries fresh, stewed and dried, and mixed with meat and other foods.  Bears and other small mammals also relied on blueberries, feasting on the rich, sweet berries wherever they found them ripe.

In 1661 Samuel De Champlain found Indians near Lake Huron gathering blueberries for their winter store.  "After drying the berries in the sun," Champlain related in his journal, "the Indians beat them into a powder and added this powder to parched meal to make a dish call Sautauthig."  Lewis and Clark on their journey into the far North West Territory found Indians smoke-drying blueberries to use during the winter in soups, stews and with meats.  One of their first meals with these Indians consisted of venison cured by having blueberries pounded into the flesh and then smoke-dried.

In ancient times blueberries were prized for their medicinal properties.  In 1703 a Scotch medical book reported "Fluxes are cured now and then by taking a spoonful of the syrup of blaeberries (the early American name of blueberries). Russian women from the days of the Tarters have prescribed Chernika, a preparation of dried bluerries for a tummy ache.

When European colonists arrived, they took to the new fruit immediately, creating pies, cobblers, preserves, syrups and wonderfully unique desserts such as blueberry "slump" or "grunt", a kind of boiled cobbler, and blueberry "buckle" similar to a crisp.

But today Americans as well as other countries like blueberries for their delicious flavor and ease of preparation.  All you need to do is wash and enjoy!  They are low in calories and packed with nutrition.  Half a cup of blueberries contains only 42 calories and they rank first in Vitamin A and second in food energy of all berries.  They also contain healthy amounts of Vitamin C, iron and some trace minerals.  They are delicious fresh, frozen, dried.  They can be used in a huge variety of food products, from pies and cakes, ice cream, cookies, salads, and on meats.  The possibilities are endless.

(History from internet sources)


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