July is National Blueberry Month! Did you know blueberries are native to North America? According to a 2015 Smithsonian article, small wild blueberries, called lowbush blueberries, were the only existing variety until one woman’s determination led to the berries we now know and love. Elizabeth White, a cranberry grower from New Jersey, set out to cultivate blueberry bushes that produced more berries, but local farmers did not believe it could be done. Despite the challenges, she teamed up with the USDA and a botanist named Frederick Coville. They were successful, and by 1916, highbush blueberries were available. Modern blueberries are now over 100 years old!
Fresh, frozen, dried and canned - blueberries can be on the menu any time of year. For breakfast, mix blueberries into cereal, oatmeal or yogurt. Try a smoothie. Add some blueberries to other fruits and vegetables and blend them together for a delicious frozen treat! Blueberries also make a great snack. Fill a dish or baggie so you can just grab and go. The fruit also makes a nice addition to a salad or homemade dressing. The delicious berries even make a great ice cream topping!
I personally like to freeze berries so I can enjoy them all throughout the year. To freeze blueberries: Wash fresh berries, then let dry. Put into a sealed container and place in the freezer. Note: If the berries are still wet when placed in the freezer, they may stick together and become difficult to separate later.
Looking for some new dishes to try out this summer? Check out these dishes and more by visiting: blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipes
Blueberry and Watermelon Salad with Marinated Feta
- 1/3 cup cubed feta cheese
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon zest and 2 tbsp lemon juice (or lime)
- Pinch of hot pepper flakes
- 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup chopped cucumber
- 1/4 cup loosely packed, thinly sliced fresh basil (or mint)
- Toss together feta, red onion, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and hot pepper flakes. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Toss together watermelon, blueberries, cucumber and basil; transfer to small serving platter. Top with feta mixture.
Slow Cooker Blueberry Peach Oatmeal
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup chopped peaches
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- Optional: top with toasted pecans or almonds
- Combine 2 cups water, oats, peaches, blueberries, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt in bowl of small (2- to 4-quart) slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on High setting for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until tender.
Balanced Blueberry Smoothie
- 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1-2 cups of milk
- ½ banana
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
- 2 cups of spinach
- Add everything to a blender and press go! Start with 1 cup of milk and add more as needed. Note: If you want your smoothie to be extra smooth, try blending the spinach with the milk before adding the other ingredients.
This month, make it a goal to prepare a new recipe or create a meal with someone. If you have kids in your life, get them involved! Children learn by watching and helping. If you read the ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ article from a few weeks ago, you might remember that measuring liquids, washing fruits and vegetables, pouring, mixing, and cleaning up are all tasks that kids can do. Have fun making memories this summer!
Sara Meeks is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Program Assistant and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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