Monday, August 1, 2011

Blueberry – the blue food

blueberries There are probably other foods out there that are blue, but blueberries are the most well-known.  I always thought they were purple, but if left unsquished…yeah, I can see why they are called blueberries.  This Wednesday at 4PM come get a taste of the blue beer (well, sort of maroonish) Blueberry Wheat.  With 1lb of blueberries per gallon, you are sure to taste the fresh goodness.

To learn a little more about blueberries, I’ve put them in easy to read bullet-points, just like the credit card companies do when they change our policies:

  • This fruit is native to North America (which explains why my Nepali friend Rom hasn’t ever tried one before I gave him one)
  • Latin lesson #1: blueberries are classifed as Cyanococcus.  cyan=blue, coccus=spherical ball… you get blue balls.
  • wild varieties are sometimes confused with bilberries, hurtleberries, whortleberries and huckleberries
  • Canada produces half of the North American production
  • Latin lesson #2: they are part of the Vaccinium genus. Vacca= “cows.”  I am not making this up!  Captain James Cook noted that cows like to eat blueberries back in the 1700’s.
  • Blueberries have been picked by hand since 1822 when the blueberry rake was invented.
  • The Joy of Blueberries” a cookbook by Theresa Millang
  • a fresh pint of blueberries weighs 3/4lb
  • out of 40 different common fruits and vegetables, blueberries are ranked #1 in antioxidants. (also high in Vitamin A, B, C and K)
  • you are not supposed to wash blueberries before storing or freezing, only right before using (to prevent mushiness)

If you are a homebrewer, you are familiar with the fruit flavoring extracts that are available for easy additions to any beer.  These typically are a concentrated form of flavoring that comes in a 4oz bottle and you can use between 1 and 4 ounces in a 5 gallon batch of beer.  Last year I set out to find out if this could be better than a real-fruit infused beer.  The results speak for themselves. 

The real-fruit blueberry wheat had a maroon color, real flavor (like that in a blueberry pancake), and a pleasant taste but not much aroma.  The artificial flavored blueberry wheat had no color change from the base wheat beer, was very tart (like phosphoric acid was added) but had an intense and pleasing fruity aroma.   I took some growlers to a homebrew meeting and asked people to vote for their favorite….about 96% preferred the real fruit wheat.  I had the opportunity to be interviewed by James Spencer of Basic Brewing Radio about the experiment and you can listen to the archived interview here

Other uses for blueberries besides putting in beer:  Blueberry pancakes. period.  okay maybe pie and jam, but really, what a lazy fruit!  What other uses do you have for blueberries?, Please comment otherwise I will hold my breath until my face….


  1. I would say blueberries have a monopoly on breakfast foods. You can put them in your bowl with cereal. They go well with muffins and in scones, or any pastry whatsoever. Then we get to yogurt, which was probably made for blueberries. Pancakes, pie, jam, and beer which you mentioned. Then you've got cake, cheesecake, smooties, fruit salad, fruit pizza, fruit salsa, cobbler, breads, cheese, and chocolate-covered blueberries. Fact: Adam's brother (me) once picked 90lbs of blueberries in one afternoon with 3 friends. Leads to some pretty creative uses.

  2. Some foods don't even contain real blueberries! I'm glad the Yak uses real whole fruits in its Wheat Wednesday beers.

  3. I love to read about your experiences! You write beautifully about this. changeparts !!! I have enjoyed reading your articles. They are very well written. It looks like you spend a large amount of time and effort in writing the blog. I am appreciating your effort.