Summer has come early to Vancouver and we couldn’t be more thrilled. This warm, sunny weather has us eager to get outside, head to the beach, and fire up the grill. Summer also has us thinking about all of the amazing seasonal produce Canada has to offer, like juicy peaches, sweet corn, and delicious cherries.
Most of all, we’re excited about the arrival of blueberry season, which is set to begin three weeks early in BC as a result of our unseasonably warm spring. Blueberries are usually in peak season during the months of July and August. We are lucky to have blueberry farms across Canada, making it easy to shop for these berries locally.
Eating local, seasonal produce has many benefits:
- Access to fresher, tastier ingredients: Because local produce doesn’t have to be transported as far, it can be harvested when its flavour is at its peak.
- Skipping out on importing from other countries also cuts down on our environmental impact while benefiting our local economy.
- Speaking of cash, blueberries are much cheaper to buy when they are in season, making them not only a delicious option, but a cost-effective one as well.
Blueberries: Nutritious superstars!
Blueberries are full of healthy compounds like antioxidants, tannins, and anthocyanin. Research is still being done to understand the many components of blueberries and how they contribute to our health and nutrition. That being said, previous research has linked blueberry consumption to positive cardiovascular health, improved blood sugar control, reduced cancer risk, and brain health. They are also a good source of vitamin C, are naturally sweet, and are high in dietary fibre. One half cup serving of blueberries contains 10% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin C, 44 calories, and 2g of fibre. Delicious and nutritious, what more could you ask for?
Blueberries: A Culinary Chameleon
Versatility is another reason to embrace blueberries. They can be incorporated into just about any meal, whether they are blended into a spread for breakfast, tossed into a salad, used in a sauce to pair with savoury dishes, or as a simple topping for dessert.
Take advantage of fresh blueberries by preserving them! Blueberries respond well to freezing, making them a convenient item to have on hand for smoothies and baked goods. For the more ambitious chef, you might consider making jam, pickling, or freeze-drying blueberries. By using preservation techniques, you can extend the lifetime of these short-lived berries and enjoy them until next season.
There you have it: Blueberries are local, nutritious, and preservable. Get them while they’re in season! Need an idea to use up your berries? Try this simple blueberry crisp recipe that’s sure to be a hit at your next summer social.
This recipe is slightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats. Use gluten-free oats to make the recipe celiac friendly. During the off-season, try swapping fresh berries with frozen (defrosted) for a taste of summer all year long.
- 1½ lbs (about 6 cups) fresh blueberries, rinsed
- 3½ tablespoons almond flour, finely ground
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- For the topping:
- ¾ cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons finely ground almond flour
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons cold butter
- Vanilla ice cream is optional, but recommended!
- Preheat the oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, combine the berries, lemon juice, and 3½ tablespoons of almond flour. Toss until the berries are evenly coated and then pour the contents of the bowl into an 8x8 inch baking dish.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, almonds, remaining almond flour, and cinnamon. Cut butter into cubes and add them to the flour mixture. Use your hands to combine the ingredients until they come together in a crumbly paste. Sprinkle on top of the blueberries and pat gently to evenly cover the fruit.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the crisp is golden brown and the berries are bubbly. Check the crisp halfway through; if it is browning too quickly, cover the dish with tin foil for the remainder of the baking time.
- Allow 15 minutes to cool before serving. Top with vanilla ice cream if desired.
Note: This is a special guest post by two fabulous dietetic students in the UBC dietetics program. Thanks to Leigh Renwick and Lawren Pallot!