Blueberries are perennial flowering plants with blue– or purple–colored berries. They are classified in the section Cyanococcus within the cranberries, bilberries, and huckleberries. Commercial “blueberries” – including both wild (‘low bush’) and cultivated (‘high bush’) blueberries – are native to North America. The high bush blueberry varieties were introduced into Europe during the 1930.
The flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red, sometimes tinged greenish. The fruit is a berry 5–16 millimeters (0.20–0.63 in) in diameter with a flared crown at the end; they are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple, and finally dark purple when ripe.
Blueberries may be cultivated, or they may be picked from semi wild or wild bushes.
So-called “wild” (low bush) blueberries, smaller than cultivated high bush ones, have intense color. The low bush blueberry is found from the Atlantic provinces. In some areas, it produces natural “blueberry barrens”, where it is the dominant species covering large areas. Several First Nations communities in Ontario are involved in harvesting wild blueberries.
“Wild” has been adopted as a marketing term for harvests of managed native stands of low bush blueberries. The bushes are not planted or genetically manipulated, but they are pruned or burned over every two years, and pests are “managed”.
High bush blueberries were first introduced to Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands in the 1930s, and have since been spread to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Poland, Italy, Hungary and other countries of Europe.
Poland, Germany, and France were the largest European producers in 2014 (table).
Blueberries are a good source of vitamin K. They also contain vitamin C, dietary fiber, manganese and other antioxidants. Valued for its high levels of antioxidants, some nutritionists believe that if you make only one change to your diet, it should be to add blueberries.
Blueberries are sold fresh or are processed as quick frozen fruit, puree, juice, or dried or infused berries. These may then be used in a variety of consumer goods, such as jellies, jams, blueberry pies, muffins, snack foods, or as an additive to breakfast cereal.
We highly recommend our Premium Blueberry Palinka with Funkin Mixed Berry Juice and lemonade called Berry Cocktail.