Blueberries 101

Summer may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean seasonal fruits are no longer at your fingertips. If you’re currently enrolled in a culinary arts school online, then your know the importance of using fresh fruit. In North America, domestic blueberry season runs from April to late September. If you missed picking season, don’t fret. Blueberries are readily available year-round at your local supermarket. Regardless of where you got your blueberries, here are some vital tips for preparing them:

Step 1: Washing
Because blueberries are small and delicate, you should only wash them right before you plan on eating, cooking or baking with them. Otherwise, if they sit out for too long after being washed, they can get soggy. In addition, do not directly wash them underneath the faucet. The pressure from the water can crush them. Instead, try dipping them into a bowl of cold water. Gently move them around, allowing them to soak without crushing them. Then, put them into a colander to the let the excess water drain.

Using vinegar as a washing solution is another tactic people have adapted. This method is said to eliminate any mold or bacteria that berries can hold and, in return, allows fruit to stay fresher for longer. This can extend berries’ shelf life by days, sometimes even weeks. To obtain this level of freshness, simply wash the berries in a diluted vinegar solution (1 cup of vinegar and 3 cups of water).

Step 2: Drying and storing
To dry the berries, lay them on a baking sheet and pat them with a paper towel. Leave them out for a couple minutes so all of them dry completely. Next, store the berries in a sealable container in the refrigerator. Leave the lid open for excess moisture to escape.

Step 3: Freezing
One of the reasons blueberries are so popular is because they freeze easily, allowing you to save them for future cooking endeavors. To freeze blueberries, first make sure they are absolutely dry. Next put them in resealable plastic bags and place them in your freezer. These blueberries are best to use within six months.

Blueberries are great in smoothies or pancakes, but  if you’re in online culinary school you might want to try something a bit more innovative. Here is a recipe to try:

Blueberry Pizza

  • 1 pound pizza dough.
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese.
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese.
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta.
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red opinion.
  • 1 cup blueberries.
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil.
  • Freshly ground black pepper.

To make:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Stretch the dough into a 10-by-14-inch oval and place it on a large baking sheet.
3. Pierce the dough with a fork.
4. Scatter half the mozzarella, gorgonzola, pancetta and red onion around the dough while leaving a 1-inch border.
5. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until the crust is golden and crispy.
6. Sprinkle the blueberries and the rest of the mozzarella over pizza, Bake until the cheese is melted or about two minutes.
7. Top with basil and pepper.

No matter if you’re using blueberries in a recipe or just eating them whole, these tips will ensure that you have the freshest blueberries possible.

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