The poet Robert Frost loved them as well. The copyright page of "Blueberries" reads, "It was penned in 1912 and published in 1914 in North of Boston". He may have been inspired by the New Hampshire farm of his great-aunt and great-uncle. There young Robert and his sister, Jeanie, helped pick and sell wild berries.
They've inspired poets and writers
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen. ~Robert Frost
Describing his hunt for wild berries, Frost went on to write, “When any lagged behind, the cry of ‘blueberries’ was most effectual to bring them up".
Maybe it's a writer's thing, but the essayist, poet, and naturalist Henry David Thoreau loved them too. “Bluets,” he called the wild berries, using the original French word and describing them as “little blue sacks of swampy nectar and ambrosia commingled, whose bonds you burst by the pressure of your teeth". A few lines later he added, “The blueberry has the wildest flavor of any that I pick; it is like eating a poisonous berry which your nature makes harmless.”1
Thoreau spent two years living at Walden Pond. In his most famous writing, Walden, he lists all the materials he used for his cabin along with the price of each.
Boards,...... $ 8.03½, mostly shanty boards.
Refuse shingles for roof sides,.. 4.00
Two second-hand windows with glass,..2.43
One thousand old brick,..... 4.00
Two casks of lime,........... 2.40 ... that was high.
Hair,................... 0.31, More than I needed.
Mantle-tree iron,......... 0.15
Hinges and screws,.... 0.14
Transportation,..1.40. I carried a good part on my back.
In all,.......................... $28.12½
Below this list he noted, "These are all the material excepting the timber, stones, and sand, which I claimed by squatter's right".1 Thoreau built his cabin from recycled and hand-cut materials.
The blueberry is native to North America where it grows throughout the woods and mountainous regions of the United States and Canada. It's rare in Europe and has only recently been introduced in Australia.
The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of blueberries, harvesting an astonishing 600 million pounds each year!
They're truly blue
One of the only foods that is naturally blue, the pigment that gives blueberries their distinctive color is anthocyanin. It's the same compound responsible for their astounding health benefits.
It's not exaggerating to say that blueberries are literally bursting with flavor and nutrients. They're also very low in calories. Researchers at Tufts University analyzed 60 fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant content. You guessed it; blueberries came out on top, ranking highest in the ability to destroy free radicals.
I used to think the powdery substance on blueberries indicated they were old. However, that's not the case. The white appearance is called bloom and helps keep the berries fresh like those pictured below.
People have been eating blueberries for more than 13,000 years. First Nations peoples of Canada consumed wild blueberries for millennia before North America was colonized. Early American colonists made gray milk paint and dye by boiling blueberries in milk.
After the strawberry, blueberries are the second most important commercial berry crop in the United States.
Blueberries usually form erect shrubs that vary in size from 1-12 ft. tall.
(my Vaccinium corymbosum 'Sweetheart' blueberry)
President Reagan and the blueberry jelly bean
Blueberry flavor Jelly Belly® beans were created for Ronald Reagan's 1981 presidential inauguration. Over three tons of Jelly Belly® beans were consumed during the event.
(photo: original uploader was Brandon Dilbeck at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)
Jelly beans were President Reagan's favorite candy, and he always kept them on his desk in the White House. The Goelitz Candy Company wanted to send him red, white, and blue jelly beans for the occasion.
While the company already manufactured red (cherry) and white (coconut) flavors, there were no blue beans. Voilà, the blueberry jelly bean was created. Three and a half tons (40 million jelly beans) were consumed during the festivities.
Now, who wants some blueberries?
(public domain photo above is from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum
1Henry David Thoreau, Walden
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