Hello, June

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The warm weather is here!

Fruits  and vegetables abound with all  the brillance of the sunny warmth all around beginning in June. Summer produce begins to sprout and before you know it, all types of berries are showing up in your local farmers markets,  reaching their peak in flavor and with the season comes blueberries, strawberries, black berries and stone fruits like cherries.

So , I am sure that you are wondering what  you can  expect to find in your local supermarkets and  grocery store shelves and what can you make with it? Well, here is a list I have put together that can help you break out of your cooking rut using  fresh fruits and vegetables in their peak season!

Also note that buying locally sourced produce is easier on your wallet and it  helps the local economy as well.

June Fruits and Vegetables

Apricots
Avocados
Beets
Blackberries
Blueberries
Cabbage
Carrots
Cherries
Corn
Cucumber
Fava Beans
Green Beans
Greens
Herbs
Kale
Kiwi
Leeks
Mangoes
Nectarines
Peaches
Peas
Radishes
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Spinach
Strawberries
Sorrel
Watermelon
Yellow Squash
Zucchini
 

This Month’s Featured Fruit: Blueberries

Blueberries are here! Those plump little berries are packed full of antioxidants and they are  delicious, nutritious and oh so  versatile. They’re naturally fat-free, high in vitamin C and a powerful antioxidant. We love them in cereals, salads, sauces, as toppings and by the handful.Blueberries pair marvelously with lemon flavor (juice and zest). Think of a refreshing blueberry lavender lemonade for sipping in the hammock. As with all berries, buy organic if possible to avoid pesticide exposure. 

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Photo Credit: Fitness Republic , 2017

Blueberry Varieties

Throughout the year, we typically see the beautiful, plump cultivated blueberries we’re most familiar with. However, in the summer it’s easy to spot smaller wild blueberries popping up in the market.

The main difference between wild and cultivated blueberries is found in their size: cultivated blueberries are typically larger than wild blueberries. Which means, since most of a blueberry’s antioxidants and other health benefits are found in the skin, per cup there will be more skin of wild blueberries than cultivated ones, due to their size.

However, it’s important to note that both varieties of blueberries are delicious, healthy and a nutritional powerhouse that belongs in everyone’s diet.

While we love to take advantage of the short season of wild blueberries and enthusiastically devour them in the summer, we also are happy to enjoy the cultivated ones year round.

What Goes Well With Blueberries?

Produce: bananas, lemon, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mango, spinach, lemon, lime, watermelon, beets, orange, kiwi, and coconut

Herbs, Spices & Sweets: cinnamon, ginger, honey, maple syrup, nutmeg, vanilla, mint, and basil

Savory: oatmeal, granola, almonds, walnuts, pork, cornmeal, and chicken

Dairy: cream cheese, sour cream, crème fraîche, cream, yogurt, mascarpone, goat cheese, ricotta, and buttermilk

How To Select and Store Blueberries

Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform blue colour. Avoid berries that are dull in color or soft and watery in texture (as the presence of moisture will cause them to decay).

Give the container a shake to see whether the berries move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged, or worse, moldy.

Store ripe blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator. Here, they will keep for up to three days. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.

Blueberries are extremely easy to freeze and store for future use. To do so, buy them in abundance in the summer and freeze them for a batch of Sunday blueberry pancakes or to stuff into muffins throughout the year. To freeze, wash blueberries and remove any stems and spoiled blueberries. Arrange on a clean tea towel to gently blot dry. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and flash freeze the cleaned and dried blueberries until frozen. Transfer to an airtight container and use within 8 months.

How To Prepare Blueberries

Your berries should not be washed until you are ready to eat them, as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries’ skin from spoiling. Fresh berries are very fragile. They should be washed briefly and carefully and then gently pat them dry.  You can also spin them dry in salad spinner.

Blueberry Tips

  • Before storing, remove any crushed or moldy berries to prevent the rest from spoiling.
  • Like other tender fruit, blueberries have a natural bloom or slight white coating. The plant produces this in order to protect the fruit, so wait to wash your berries until you are ready to enjoy them.
  • Freeze blueberries on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Once frozen, transfer them to a re-sealable bag or container. This keeps them from sticking together.
  • Add frozen blueberries to a smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes etc.
  • When shopping in the store, give the container of fresh berries a shake to see whether they move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged or moldy.
  • Wash your blueberries in a salad spinner to keep them intact while drying them at the same time.

Serving Ideas

Everybody knows that blueberry muffins are a perfect morning food, but don’t forget that blueberry pancakes or blueberry sauce on waffles can bring breakfast to a whole new level. This vegan blueberry lemon loaf is also a great treat in the morning if you need a pick-me-up!

Blueberries are also classic in pies and cobblers. Blueberries and lemons are a match made in heaven beneath a blanket of oat streusel or biscuits. Top with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream for a decadent spin on this dish.

Add blueberries to your favorite greens like kale or spinach and pair with some salty cheese like feta to have a delicious and complex textured saladGrilled peaches and blueberries tossed in vinaigrette are also delicious, while this simple yet tasty blueberry, walnut, and Manchego cheese salad is great for a quick side dish.

For a spin on your traditional bruschetta, try this gorgeous blueberry and beet bruschetta at your next gathering. It will be sure to wow your guests with its striking color and flavor.

After a long week, wind down with some blueberry mojitos. Muddle blueberries with mint to get extra flavor and a beautiful hue to your drink.

A Caprese salad is typically prepared using a few high quality ingredients like fresh mozzarella, tasty tomatoes and fresh basil. Seasoned only with good quality olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste, it’s as delicious as it is simple. Try giving it a little extra boost of flavor and color  with fresh blueberries .

You can never go wrong with a classic like blueberry muffins. Perfect for on-the-go breakfasts and late-afternoon snacks, keeping a stash on hand will satisfy all your hunger cravings.

Source:

Produce Made Simple: Blueberries. (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed May 15, 2018.  https://producemadesimple.ca/blueberries/ 

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