* Prices may differ from that shown
I very rarely ever eat blueberries due to the price increase, and they currently, when full price, sell at £3.99-£4.99 for a small punnet, which in my situtation (poor student!) is an absloute no go.
For some people this may not seem alot, but in the current recession i'm sure most people will see blueberries as somewhat of a luxury fruit to treat themselves to ever so often - the price is definetly a put-off for many people.
It's a huge shame about the price because i love blueberries. Not only are they sweet and tasty, but they also have back up behind them to prove that they *may* halter aging symptoms and Alzheimer's disease. When fed to lab animals they found that the blueberries lowered brain damage after an experimental stroke, aswell as research showing that blueberries may help prevent urine infections. Blueberries also contain many vitamins & minerals so are very healthy. A heaped tablespoon of them counts as one of your five a day.
Taste wise they're lovely and very sweet. Back when i was trying to lose weight i found they usually satisfied my craving for sweets - a much healthier, lower calorie choice than a bag of skittles! The ripe, plump blueberries are usually juicy and tasty but the smaller ones are likely to be on the sour side.
Blueberries as you may of guessed, are a lovely bluey purple colour, but when bitten into you can see that the inside's a yellowy orange shade.
I only ever buy a punnet when they've been reduced, and yesterday saw that Tesco had there 280g organic/fresh punnetts reduced from £3.99 to £2, so grabbed one, paid and had it as a rushed breakfast on the way to a lecture. They were lovely and ripe, tasty, a decent size/plump and there was only 4/5 blueberries in the entire punnett that were small and sour.
I usually eat blueberries mixed in with yoghurt for breakfast and also often make smoothies out of them; many recipes are available online.
I'd reccomend these, especially the tesco punnetts purely due to the reduced price right now. They're healthy, tasty snacks that can even be used as alternatives for sweets and chocolate with children/people watching there weight.
An alternative, cheaper and much more economical way of getting hold of lovely fresh blueberries, would ofcourse be to grow your own. I've looked into doing this many times as it'd save alot of money, and it looks simple enough, however i don't actually have a garden big enough and i'd rather them be in a garden than in a pot so it's out of the question! Maybe when i'm home i will though.
A basic guide to growing your own blueberries:
Step 1: Firstly you will need to decide where you want your blueberries to grow; they can be sucessfully grown in the garden, containers/pots or raised beds with suitable soil. They need access to sun so obviously it's best for them to be outside.
Step 2: Prepare your soil. Blueberries require rich, acidic soil if they're to grow and thrive well. The pH of your soil should be between 4 and 5.5.
Step 3: Plant your blueberry seeds. It's best to plant 2 different types (no particular two types are reccomended, it can be any of your choice), this will ensure cross pollination; making sure that plenty of fruit will grow. It's best to plant your blueberries around august time as they require plenty of sun. If planting your plants in pots, it's important that there's adequate drainage - ideally the pot should be slightly raised off the surface to allow liquid to drain away with ease. If planting directly into your garden it's best to keep each atleast 1.5 metres apart to ensure each of the plants and roots can grow without interuption.
Step 4: Feeding & Pruning your Blueberries. After the leaves have fully opened and flowered in late Spring, the bushes will need there first feed. A tablespoon (not heaped) of well balanced, ericaceous fertiliser will do the job. As the plant grows and matures, you'll need to increase the amount slightly. Feed the plant again at the end of June, as the second stage of growth occurs in summer. Throughout the growing season your plants roots will need to be kept moist. Rain water is fine, and is preferred due to been acidic. Tap water is also an option, however rain water is much prefered.
*PLEASE NOTE*: Animal manure is not suitable for blueberry plants, as it burns the roots resulting almost always in the plant dying.
Come late winter it'll be time to groom your plant. Long canes will grow through the plants bush during the summer, giving the bush its shape. Trimming the edges of these canes will encourage a bushy plant which is the aim.
Any narrow, green growth from the base should be removed, aswell as any damaged/dried leaves or branches etc. If a branch looks to be dying it's best to take it out sooner than later.
The plants will start to flower the following summer after you've planted them. This stage will be followed by fruit.
I love blueberries and as a family we get through a fair amount each week. Blueberries bought from a supermarket are expensive although available all year round. Like many people I am very aware of food miles and the cost to the environment so with this in mind I have been growing my own for the past few years. I thought it was time I wrote about this amazing little fruit and hope you will enjoy reading!
Blueberries are native to North America although they have only been cultivated here for around 100 years. Wild blueberries have been enjoyed by Native Americans for hundreds of years however and it was they who introduced the fruit. In the UK blueberries have only been grown commercially since 1959, a fact that really surprised me as they are really easy to grow! Blueberries belong to the Ericaceous family that also includes bilberries, cranberries, azaleas and Rhododendrons.
How to grow your own.
I started growing blueberries several years ago and have been very successful. The first thing to say is that there are numerous different varieties to chose from as a trip to most garden centres will show! It is recommended that you buy several different varieties of shrub and plant them together to ensure cross pollination. It is possible to buy a single blueberry plant but it won't bear such a god crop of fruit. Blueberry plants grow to about 1.5 metres in height and are a very attractive shrub with bright green leaves and small white, delicately scented flowers.
Blueberry plants like acidic soil and if Azaleas and Rhododendrons do well in your garden you know you will be ok! The plants also like to be in a sunny position with lots of light. Blueberry plants can be panted in pots in the autumn or winter and will start to flower from about July. When planting put a good amount of peat around the roots of each plant. I know that peat is a controversial product, but growing blueberries will cut down on food miles as those you buy in the supermarket will have traveled hundreds of miles. It is a good idea to put a mulch of pine needles around the base of the plant as these are acidic and will help to keep moisture in. The plants will need to be well watered and it is best to use rain water as this is more acidic than tap water. However when it was really dry I did use tap water and the plants were fine! When they start to flower I give my plants a feed using tomato plant feed.
The plants can be planted into the ground once they are established. They should be planted about 1.5 metres apart. Blueberry plants are very disease and pest resistant and really require little looking after which suits me well! They do need to be pruned from November to ensure the plant puts on good growth.
The plants will produce flowers with a lovely delicate scent from about July, followed by fruit. The fruit begins as green coloured berries ripening to a rich dark blue/purple colour. The fruit will need protecting from birds! The fruit is best left on the plant for a few days once it has reached a purple colour as this improves the flavour. My children love picking the berries and eating them!
Not only do blueberries taste and look good, but they are one of the best fruits you can eat in terms of health benefits. Home grown berries are not as sweet as those that are imported from sunnier climates and have a slightly tart taste. Blueberries are low in calories, fat free and contain Vitamin C, A, fibre and calcium. They are also very high in antioxidants. There has been research showing that Blueberries are very beneficial in keeping arteries healthy. If you want to know more simple type blueberries into Google and you will find several sites telling you all about the numerous health benefits!
Blueberries are really easy to eat as the only preparation needed is a quick wash and they are ready to eat. My children like to take a small pot of blueberries to school as part of their packed lunch, a bit like eating little sweets! My children often reject fruits like oranges as they need effort to peel and eat. As blueberries are so easy and fuss free to eat they are far less likely to be bought home uneaten at the end of the day!
Recipes and uses.
Not only can Blueberries be eaten in their raw form but they cook well too, producing lots of juice and giving a great colour. Blueberries can be easily damaged so take care when you wash them .They do freeze well and can be used in recipes once defrosted.
I have to say I prefer to eat Blueberries just as they are and love to add them to my breakfast porridge or breakfast biscuits in place of sugar.
I also add them to pancakes, again in place of sugar. Simple sprinkle a few blueberries before rolling up your pancake and the heat will burst the berries making then soft and juicy. Blueberries can be added to plain yogurt and stirred to give flavour and colour.I also make a blueberry smoothie that is very popular with my family. Just add a handful of blueberries and a banana to some milk and blitz.
My children love to cook and blueberry muffins are really easy to make. This recipe comes from the BBC's Saturday kitchen -
110g/4ozs plain flour.
65g/21/2 ozs castor sugar.
2 free range eggs.
11/2 tsp baking powder.
125g/41/2 ozs blueberries.
Pinch of nutmeg.
1. Cream the butter and sugar together then ad the beaten eggs. Add the flour and the baking powder and finally the nutmeg and combine.
2. Put the mixture into the fridge and leave overnight.
3. Divide the mixture into muffin cases and then add about 8 blueberries to each. Push the blueberries down gently into the mixture.
4. Bake at 200c/400f for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
I have made these muffins several times now and they are delicious! The blueberries burst in the oven making the muffins very moist and flavorsome. They won't last long once out of the oven!
If you are not able to grow your own then blueberries are available all year round in the supermarkets. They are quite expensive with a small container costing around £3.You should inspect carefully before you buy as Blueberries are easily damaged .Smaller fruits can have more flavour than plump larger ones so don't always go for the biggest! However home grown blueberries are definitely the best!
Overall I really recommend you try this fruit if you have not already done so. Blueberries are, in my opinion, delicious, a gorgeous colour and they are really good for you.
I'm currently trying to lose weight, and so obviously decided to include more fruit in my diet. However, I'm really trying to restrict my calorie uptake, and so was looking for fruit with very little calories; these are perfect!
In 100g (About half of quite a large box; so for snacking I tend to only eat c.30g!) there are just 32 calories! Compare this the an apple- a standard Granny Smith apple there are around 80 calories. Plus these blueberries taste amazing!
Sometimes blueberries can be quite bland, but these vary between tangy and sweet, but overall its a great taste.
I have also tried Morrisons blueberries, and I can honestly say Tescos' taste much much better! Morrisons' are watery, rather tasteless and from Holland; whereas Tescos' are produced in the UK, thus better for the environment in terms of carbon emissions from transporting.
The prices, however, are a quite different. The box of 200g at Tesco was £2.35, but at Morrisons - it may just be a current special offer - a slightly smaller box was £1!
To conclude, these Tescos blueberries are sooo tasty and fantastic for snacking when on a diet. Try them!!!