My pick this week is Blueberries. In recent weeks these berries have been quite expensive, but due to a supply increase we are getting into some excellent eating varieties - the fruit from the North Coast (around the Coffs Harbour and Bryon Bay regions) is eating particularly well. It is shaping up to be a huge blueberry season, and there is an expectation of record yields which is great news for consumers.
Blueberries are roundish in shape, about the size of a marble. They are deep in colour, ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-gray waxy "bloom" that covers the berry's surface and serves as a protective coat. It has a bluish flesh and contains very small seeds. They were once known as ‘star-berries’ because of the star-shaped calyx on the top of their heads. They are totally edible - seeds, calyx and all.
Blueberries are an excellent source of natural sugars for energy. The darker the colour, the sweeter they taste. They also have heaps of vitamin C and dietary fibre.
HOW TO PICK
Select firm, plump berries that have a natural, light blue-silver blush on the skin. This silvery blush is a natural protective wax coating. Avoid excessively soft or withered berries. Shake the container, noticing whether the berries have the tendency to move freely; if they do not, this may indicate that they are soft and damaged or mouldy. Avoid berries that appear dull in colour or are soft and watery in texture. They should be free from moisture since the presence of water will cause the berries to decay.
HOW TO STORE
Don't wash berries until right before eating as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries' skins from degradation. Place unwashed blueberries in a single layer on paper towel in a covered container and refrigerate. Use within 3 days. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.