Blueberry Fun Facts
Fall in love with berries all over again by learning some blueberry fun facts. Everyone loves blueberries whether they're picked and eaten straight from the bush or baked into a favorite dessert, but have you ever wanted to know more about this delicious fruit? Explore some of the lesser-known facets of this classic American food source.
Blueberries in History
Just like other fruits and vegetables, blueberries are an important part of history. They have always been abundant on the North American continent, making them a staple in the diet of Native Americans as well as the first colonists who settled in North America. Here are some blueberry fun facts about the early days of our continent.
- Native Americans once called them "star berries," because the five points of blueberry blossoms make a star shape.
- They held blueberries in high esteem, believing that the "Great Sprit" created the berries to feed their hungry children during famine.
- Blueberry juice had medicinal value for Native Americans as well and was used to treat persistent coughs and other illnesses.
- Blueberries were commonly used to make pemmican, a jerky type of dried food packed for sustenance on long journeys.
- They also used blueberries in non-traditional ways like making dye from blueberry juice for textiles and baskets.
- Taking their cue from Native Americans, early settlers of America introduced blueberries into their diets when other food sources were scarce.
- Early colonists made gray paint out of blueberries by boiling them in milk.
- Mocking their British roots, the first colonists added blueberries to traditional English fruit and dough puddings and renamed them "buckle," "grunt," and "slump."
- The traditional blue paint used in the homes of Shakers was made from blueberry skins, sage blossoms, indigo, and milk.
- During the Civil War of the 1860s, blueberries were collected, packaged, and sent to Union troops for use as a food staple.
More Blueberry Fun Facts
Besides their colorful history, there are other interesting things about blueberries.including:
- American poet, Robert Frost, loved blueberries so he wrote a poem about them. You guessed it; the poem was called "Blueberries."
- America's favorite muffin is, of course, blueberry.
- Blueberries are one of the only natural foods that are truly blue in color.
- July is national blueberry month because that is the peak of the harvest season.
- The pale, powder-like protective coating on the skin of blueberries is called "bloom."
- The anthocyanin present in blueberries is good for eyesight.
- Blueberries contain more antioxidants than most other fruits or vegetables and may help prevent damage caused by cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's.
- A blueberry extract diet improves balance, coordination, and short-term memory in aging rats.
- The blueberry industry of North America ships over 500 metric tons of fresh berries to Japan each year and over 100 metric tons to Iceland.
- Blueberries are naturally low in both fat and sodium.
- Maine is the blueberry production capital of North America and produces almost 100 percent of all berries harvested in the country.
- Blueberries grow best in acidic soil at a pH of four to five and make a good container plant.
- Minnesota claims the blueberry muffin as its official state muffin and New Jersey claims the berry as its official state fruit.
- Blueberries are the official berries of Nova Scotia, Canada.
Did You Know?
The annual harvest of North American blueberries would cover a four lane highway from Chicago to New York if spread out in a single layer.
Since blueberries are so well-loved, it's easy to learn more about them. There are societies and organizations and other kinds of groups that offer a wealth of information that is all about the blueberry. Visit some of the resources listed below for more blueberry fun facts.
- Wild Blueberries
- North American Blueberry Council
- U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council
- The Blueberry Children's Foundation
- Blueberry Fun
By Stacy Taylor