Berry season is in full swing across Canada right now with strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry-picking at its finest. Picking your own berries is a great way to enjoy local food, spend an afternoon, and show your kids where their food comes from.
With just 86 calories per cup, and 7 grams of fibre, blueberries are a delicious low-cal way to get in your daily recommended 25 grams of fibre. They’re also a rich source of antioxidants like manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin K and are one of nature’s highest sources of salicylate, a compound that acts like a natural aspirin and has the potential to reduce inflammation.
How To Pick Ripe Blueberries
There are dozens of different varieties of blueberries, each of them with a slightly different flavour, size and growing season, so you can enjoy their plump fruits nearly all summer long. Despite their name, blueberries are actually a green-ish hue until they ripen and turn blue. They’re at their peak ripeness (and best picking) about two to three days after turning blue. Look for berries that still have that whiteish powder, aka bloom, on the skin, as this protects the berry from sun damage and moisture loss, and indicates they haven’t been handled much.
Storing & Freezing Blueberries
There’s no fancy prep work involved for enjoying blueberries, simply give them a quick rinse and pop them in your mouth. If you do rinse them you’ll need to eat them right away as the water increases spoilage
Fresh blueberries are highly perishable and need to be refrigerated after picking. They’ll keep for up to 14 days in the fridge or can be frozen and stored for up to 12 months in the freezer. In order to freeze, simply place a single layer of berries on a baking sheet and pop them in the freezer until frozen through, then place into plastic freezer bags, seal well and date the package. Do not wash berries before freezing, but rather just before using.
Here are some kid-friendly recipes—plus one for the adults—to help you enjoy these sweet treats all year long.
1. Frozen Yogurt Blueberries
|These bite-sized treats from Heart of Deborah are a freshing melt-in-your-mouth treat that’s perfect for helping the kids stay cool on those hot summer days.
You can even let the little ones get in on the fun making these too, they’re so easy.
2. Blueberry Dump Cake
|Did someone say cake?!
This blueberry dump cake from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom is easy to make and had us going back for seconds…and thirds.
3. Easy Blueberry Jam
|Store-bought jams are often full of added sugar and other not-so-nice ingredients, and making your own at home couldn’t be any easier.
This recipe from Lexie’s Clean Kitchen adds chia seeds for a fibre boost and is ready in just 30 minutes. Use it to top toast, pancakes, waffles, or mix into oatmeal for a sweet breakfast meal
4. Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies
|A slightly different twist on the classic oatmeal raisin cookie, these little morsels from Amy’s Healthy Baking taste so good your kids won’t even know they’re good for them!
Dry your blueberries in a dehydrator beforehand or purchase commercially dried blueberries.
5. Blueberry Mojito
|Finally, we have a recipe for the grown-ups!
After the littles are snug and tucked into bed why not whip up a batch of these blueberry mojitos from The Novice Chef?
The colour is striking and it makes for a refreshing summer cocktail.
Browse the Help! We’ve Got Kids online directory to find more farms for kids near Toronto, farms for kids near Ottawa, farms for kids near Calgary, and farms for kids near Vancouver for berry-picking, pumpkin patches, farm-animal visits, wagon rides, seasonal harvest festivals, corn mazes, and more!
Caitlin McCormack is a writer, editor and full-time mama to one cool little dude. When she’s not spending time at the park or working on recipes in the kitchen, you can find her lifting weights, growing her own veggies, or enjoying some precious time with her shift-working husband. Read her blog at Big City Mama or follow her on Twitter @Caitlin_Writes.
PHOTO: DAN KLIMKE
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Find more fresh-fruit goodness with 12 healthy summer desserts to keep kids hydrated!
Check out our reviews and a map of some of the best pick-your-own berry farms in the GTA.
Can’t make it to the farm? Try the farmers’ market instead: browse one of these 8 awesome farmer’s markets for families in Toronto.
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