Forbidden Farms is located in Santa Barbara County, CA.
Season: May to July (Forbidden Farm yields an early crop even for California!)
Flavor: Blueberries walk the line between tart and sweet, although cultivated varieties are now bred for increasing sweetness and large, plump fruits. Depending on the varietal, the berries may be very small (see: lowbush/wild varieties) or quite large and plump, and the color may vary from sky blue to deep, dusky purple. Wild varieties tend to have a more concentrated blueberry flavor, while cultivated varieties tend to be juicier.
Look for firm, dry, plump blueberries with smooth skin and no shriveled or moldy bits. Pass on greenish or red blueberries — this generally means that they are underripe. Some blueberries may have a faint white powdery coating (called “bloom”) that is naturally occurring and helps to protect the berries.
Storage: If you plan to use your blueberries within a day, store them right on the counter. Otherwise, stick them, unwashed, in the fridge in the container they came in. They will keep for up to a week. Take a quick look-through for any damaged berries and remove them before storing — damaged blueberries invite moisture and mold that can quickly ruin an entire container of the fruit.
How to use: Naturally, blueberries are delicious eaten out of hand, but they also add sweet-tart depth to lots of dishes, both sweet and savory.
On the savory side, blueberries pair deliciously with pork and duck. Toss a handful of berries into a green salad; or try gently mixing in some of the fruit with whole grain dishes, like quinoa or wheat berries. Blueberries are also quite delicious with cheese — team up blueberry preserves or fresh berries with goat cheese or harder, strong cheeses like Manchego for a sweet-salty-tangy flavor combo.
But where blueberries really shine is in desserts, their natural acidity providing a welcome counterbalance to baked goods, puddings and other sweet treats. Of course, there are the ubiquitous (but no less awesome) blueberry muffins and pies. Blueberries are also awesome in smoothies and in parfaits. Also try subbing dried blueberries for raisins in cookie and other dessert recipes.
- Have you ever baked a batch of blueberry muffins, only to discover that your blueberries have turned green? This is because the pigments in blueberries (primarily anthocyanins) turn green when cooked with alkaline ingredients like baking soda. To correct this problem, add a bit of acid to the mixture, in the form of buttermilk or yogurt, and/or use less baking soda.
Nutrition: Blueberries are one of the world’s healthiest fruits. Not only are they a good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and manganese; they are also high in fiber and relatively low in calories. The little blue fruits are naturally rich in polyphenols, antioxidant chemicals that are increasingly linked to big-time health benefits, including in cardiovascular health, brain functioning (including memory) and even cancer prevention.