POPULAR JERSEY FRESH BLUEBERRIES NOW AVAILABLE
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – Jersey Fresh blueberries, the official state fruit, are now in season and available at local supermarkets, farmers markets, roadside stands, and pick-your-own farms, Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher announced today.
“As one of the nation’s top blueberry cultivators, our Jersey Fresh blueberries are well-known for their high quality and taste,” said Secretary Fisher. “These eagerly awaited blueberries are full of nutrients and are great fresh and in so many of your favorite recipes.”
According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, 54 million pounds of blueberries were produced last year on 7,500 acres with a value of $80.8 million. New Jersey ranks fifth in the nation in blueberry production. Atlantic and Burlington Counties are the main harvesters of the state fruit, accounting for 97 percent of the blueberry acres harvested in 2012.
The major varieties of blueberries grown in New Jersey include Blue Crop and Duke, named for one of the founders of Atlantic Blueberry Company in Hammonton.
New Jersey is also a major exporter of blueberries to Canada, which heralds the arrival of the harvest each year.
There are many reports as to the health benefits of blueberries. United States Department of Agriculture researchers found that blueberries ranked first in antioxidant activity in comparison to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products of metabolism called "free radicals" that are associated with cancer and other age related diseases.
Blueberries also are a large part of New Jersey’s agri-tourism industry. With pick-your-own farms in 9 counties throughout the state, picking blueberries can also be a fun family activity. To find a pick-your-own blueberry farm or markets carrying Jersey Fresh blueberries, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov or www.visitnjfarms.org.
The Department offers these tips for selecting blueberries:
- Look for blueberries that are plump and fresh looking;
- Pay particular attention to their color; they should be blue, black, bluish-black or purple;
- Blueberries have a gray, waxy deposit on the skin called bloom. The bloom is a protective coating, so
- don’t wash blueberries until ready to use;
- Freeze blueberries on a cookie sheet and then place into a freezer storage bag;
- Blueberries spoil quickly if left at room temperature, but can be stored in the refrigerator for three days;
- Avoid containers that have juice stains on them, a sign the berries are crushed;
- Wrinkled fruit means they have been stored too long; while soft, watery fruit means the berries are overripe.
Click here to find recipes using Jersey Fresh blueberries.