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December 2015

 

Are Sun Dried Blueberries Available?

Stay tuned, there are some companies with this product in development.   Blueberries have a totally different character than dried grapes or raisins.   The brix of the raisins is higher.   Blueberries dry just fine in air or sun but tend to lose moisture after the initial dehdration and need some sort of infusion to give it texture.   There have been experiments with allowing blueberries to ripen longer on the vine to bring up the brix level.   The results have been promising as the sugar level is higher and maintain a nice texture and do not get too dry--too fast.

 

Why is it so hard to find blueberry juice -- not from concentrate?

Unlike fruits such as oranges and apples and even raspberries -- blueberries are not normally dedicated to juice production.   Blueberries which are not up to standards for fresh and frozen markets are diverted to juice barrels.   This product is in demand by companies who product juice concentrate.   Perhaps in the future threre will be a stream of juice berries for production of not-from-concentrate juices.   Most juice companies look for a homogeneous flavor of blueberry and the blended concentrate fills this need.

 

Why do companies use artificial blueberrries when the real thing is in demand?

Each company is different it's approach to ingredient sourcing.    Some companies have utilized fabricated blueberries or analogs since before the days that real dried blueberries have been available.  Now dried blueberries fit many of the same ingredient usage niches which the fabricated products are currently servie ng.  The price diffference is not too wide and USHBC research and common sense indicated that consumers are willing to pay a little more for a real product.   Currently the USA supply is bountiful and the frozen, liquid and dried blueberries are sold in a win-win situaton and good availability.

 

What is an artificial blueberry?

There are several types:  blue colored grain bits; blue colored apple bits, blue colored gum bits, blue colored fat bits and others.

 

 Are there any FDA Standards of Identity for blueberry products?

Currently there are none.   FUnlike raisin bread, mayonaise and other products, blueberry mufins and other items are not covered by a "Weight of berry to flour weight" regulation.   USHBC however is currently researching and developing guidelines for different categories.    These will be used in evaluating products for qualification for the Blueberry Real Seal.

 

November 2015

 

Why are most dried blueberries infused?

It takes a bout 3.5 lbs of frozen or fresh blueberries to produce one lb of infused dried blueberries.   Infusion of sweetners is done through osmosis where blueberries are soaked in a syrup.  The sweetener enters the interior of the blueberriy and replaces water.   There is no pressing of the juice.   The sweetener gives the dried blueberry more weight and internal texture and chew.

 

Are there non-infused dried blueberries?

Yes. You can find freeze dried blueberries as well as air dried.  It takes 6.5 lbs of frozen blueberries to make 1 lb of this product, so it is certainly more expensive than the infused.  

 

What are freeze dried blueberries?  Blueberries are processed in a method called lyophilisation where a complcate staged process freezes then dries moisture.  It is very low moisture and contains all of the nutrients of blueberries.  Read up on freeze drying.

http://www.innova-uy.info/docs/presentaciones/20050928/2005DOCJorgeWelti-Liofilizacion.pdf

 What is vacuumdrying?

This is a new process and a different twist on freeze dring where the skin of the blueberry is not broken.   Check out the following web site: 

http://www.enwave.net/

 

Are there any sun dried blueberries available?
I have seen them advertise on the internet and also have seen some prototypes.  I will post information on this topic once it is confirmed.

 

October 2015

 

Where can I find a specific cultivar called "Hearty Blue?"

Sourcing a specific variety by name is a risky proposition.   You may well learn that the variety does not have the supply you are looking for.   It is far better to describe the characteristics that you desire and specify a basket of cultivars.  Your packer/supplier will know which cultivars match your requirements.

 

Can I purchase single strength juice -- not from concentrate?

Yes this is one of the prodduct offerings that we produce.   Do note that most juice stock is sent to juice concentrate companies who blend and make homogeneous juice products.   Highbush blueberries are not homogeneous and have various flavor characteristics.   Because of this, most juice companies will source a 65 Brix blueberry juice concentrate.

 

Is there a dried blueberry which is infused with blueberry juice concentrate?   

Not yet, but I have seen prototypes which show promise.   It may seem simple since apple juice concentrate is already used.  But, we need to overcome a number of tecnical barriers to use blueberry juice concentrate. Specifically, the particle size of the solids in the blueberry juice concentrate are larger than the membrane of the blueberry fruit skin which causes a difficulty in passing.   We are confident that this dilema can be solved eventually.

 

Where can I buy bleberry pomace?

Pomace is the substance which is left over after the blueberry is squeezed for juice and puree.  Currently most pomace is dehydrated into a value added fiber which is used extensively in the food and pet food industry.   Any company which makes a juice concentrate or puree will have pomace.  Look on our supplier database for the names and contact information.

 

Are blueberry leaves available?

Each year blueberrry leaves turn red and fall to the ground after the blueberry harvest.  We are always gettting inquiries for blueberry leaves for medicinal use especially from Asia.   The quick answer is -- you can get leaves if you can work a deal with a grower to go in and pick them.   Typically, after the end of the fruit harvest, hand labor crews leave for another region or farm so there is not a lot of help for the laborious task of picking leaves.   But, if the demand grows and a market price is established that makes it worthwhile -- who knows!

 

September 2015

 

How do you keep a blueberry from bleeding into the muffin batter?

In the USA cusotmers like to see the blue color in the muffin.  If ou yabsolutely need a firm muffin, work with your supplier for a variety of blueberry with a thicker skin.   They may be able to accommodate.   There is also a product from Novo Enzymes that will firm up a berry.  Here is the web site. (Novo Site)

 

I need a dry blueberry without sucrose?

Most dehydrated blueberries are infuse with sucrose.   Some manufacturers also can ship with apple juice concentrate.

 

Are Bueberries Halal?

There is nothing keepin g a blueberry from being certified Halal for Muslim countries.

 

What is the diffrence between blueberry pomace and blueberry fiber?

Bluberry pomace is the by product of making juice. This substance contains all of the skin and seeds of blueberry and is dehydraed to create a fiber.

 

What form of blueberry works best in ice creams?

Experts on ice cream will tell you that the added fruit must be compatible to the varigate (base ice cream).   Manufacturers use a blueberry puree which can be pumped into the ice cream base an blends well.  Some ice cream manufacturers also use a soft frozen infused dried blueberry which also works as an additive. 

 

August 2015

 

How much blueberry should go into a product identified as a blueberry product?

There are no Standards of Identity for blueberry products such as you will find with mayonaise and raisin bread where the FDA mandates a specific amount.   USHBC is creating guidelines as a reference and they are designed on a product by product basis with consideration for the characteristics of the product.  In general if a product is called a blueberry product, then the blueberries should be seen and tasted.   We notice a trend for products to have big time blueberry identification on the package and little inside.   Research shows that consumers demand the real thing!  Stay tuned.

 

What is the season for fresh blueberries in North America?

We used to say that the season starts in April in Florida and ends in September in BC.   Now we have Mexican producton, and North America begins at the Panama Canal.   For the most part it is safw to say that fresh blueberries from the USA and Canada are available from April to September. 

 

Where can I pick blueberries?

U pick farms are located all over the continent and are identified as such.   Most are located near major metropolitan areas so it is easy to take the family out for a day.   Typically the farm will give you buckets and you pick by weight.    Do a quick web search as many u pick farms have their own sites.   Remember -- not all blueberry farms offer u-pick and it is a serous business with field equipment and active harvesting in motion.   Enjoy your blueberry picking!  NABC U Pick Directory

 

I keep reading about "huckleberries." What are they?

This is a complicated question to answer.   There are real uckelberries which are a different species of berry and they are grown in the midwest.   Commonly species of highbush blueberries which grow in the forest are also known as huckelberries.   Best plac to study this is at the USDA Plant database.

 

What is the difference between Individually Quick Frozen Blueberries (IQF) and Case Frozen blueberries?

Both are frozen blueberries and the difference is in the freezing method.   Simply: the blueberries are quick frozen individually in a specially designed chamber.  This makes the product free flowing so they do not stick together.   Case frozen are placed in a cardboard plastic lined case and then placed in a freezer to be frozen.   Some manufacturers need IQF and some need case frozen depending on specifications.  

 

July 2015

Do frozen bluerries have the same nutritnts as a fresh blueberry?

Yes, except for Vitamin C?  They contain all the good ness of bleberries!

 

What is the white stuff on the surface of a blueberry?

The white powder look is what is called a "bloom."  This is a waxy substance that occurs naturally.  It is a sign of freshness.   If you see a larger white it may well be mold.   Blueberries are picked fresh and shipped to the markets immediately.   But they must be stored in proper chilled conditions to get the longest possible shelf life.   If you bring the berries home and you see mold, (In a reasonble amount of time) take them back to the grocer.

 

When is Blueberry Month in Canada?

Several years ago, the Province of British Columbia proclaimed August as Blueberry Month!  They are on a slightly later schedule than the USA were we celebrate national blueberry Month in July.

 

Do blueberries contain seeds?

Bite a blueberry and you will notice a few small seeds and you may not even notice.   Interesting that some manufacturers who make juice and puree are removing seeds and they are made into value-added ingredients and pressed for a very interesting and aromatic oil. 

 

When was the highbush blueerry developed?

Elizabeth White a New Jersey Farmer and Dr. Frederick Coville of the USDA collaborated on the cultivation of blueberries as early and before 1912.   The first commercialization was in 1916 and this means next year we will celebrate the highbush blueberry centennial!

 

June 2015

 

What is blueberry pomace?

Blueberry pomace is the solid substance that is left over after puree or juice is made.   In recent years, it has become a mainstream food ingredient where it is dried down to a low moisture level and then used in human and pet foods.

 

When is blueberry season?

This used to be an easy answer, as it was always around the 4th of July.    Today the season has expanded with Florida coming on in March and April and seasons rolloing out all over the country with an end in September in the Pacific Northwest.   For the fresh market these "market windows" are quite important as it will determine the marketability and price of fresh blueberries.   Simply put, if your production occurs at a unique time slot -- the price will be better.  Supply and demand at work.   Recently, we have seen a lot of shifts in weather with some areas running early and others late.   This can cause disruption and collision of different regions.   We want a very happy family of blueberry producing areas all with nice windows of production and consumer appreciation.

 

Are immature blueberries marketable?

With mechanical harvesting, it is inevitable that there will be green and red berries in the bin.   They are normally sorted out with mechanical and visual color sorters.   Typicaly this product has little value.   We have been pondering new uses for the green berries, as they also have levels of antioxidants.    We have experimented with green blueberry chutneys and sauces and they are really interesting.    Some day there may be a secondary market for green, red and pink blueberries.

 

What does a food processor need to know about cultivars?

A "cultivar" is a plant variety that has been produced by selective breeding.    For example, our industry pioneers would pay hunters a bounty to bring back hardy plants from the woods with big sized berries and robust production.  Plant breeders have always been on the hunt for bluebeforry plants with specific attributes like firm texture, flavor and color and the all important size.   Cultivars also are developed for early and late harvest as well.    For food processors, cultivars are interesting for choosing a blueberry that works well in specific applications.    For example some filling and pie manufacturers like blueberries with soft skins that exude juice in the end product.    Others uses require firm berries and some with size small or large.    We always recommend about getting to concerned with cultivars in product specifications as this can box you into a corner for supply.  Best way to source is to talk things over with your suplier and tell them the end use.  They will know which group of cultivars would be beneficial and can help in this selection.

 

What is a huckleberry?

The term is often used to describe any "Wild" forest blueberry.   In reality there is a real huckleberry

This is a really complicated subject.   Some refer to any wild forest blueberry as a huckleberry.   There are red and black huckleberries and those in the Apalachians and east and west.   Best place to find a very very detailed answer is at the USDA Plant database:  http://plants.usda.gov/java

 

May 2015

 

What is planned for the 100 year anniversary of highbush blueberries?

A: Stay tuned, the USHBC, NABC and blueberry organizations around the world are planning events to honor our founder Elizabeth White and Frederik Coville the USDA researcher who helped make it all happen.  

 

Q: What do I do if I get a less than perfect package of bleberries.  

A:  Take them right back to the produce deparment where you found them.    Nobody is perfect, but we do try hard to please.   The produce manager will want to please and also will inevitably let the supplier know.   We want you to have a great blueberry experience!

 

Q: What is blueberry juice concentrate?

A: Most beverage companies utilize a homogeneous blueberry juice concentrate for making commercial beverages.   The reason: highbush blueberries have different flavor characteristics and the concentration process allows a manufactuerer to get a consistent flavor each time.   A new trend in Asia is for fresh juice squeezed from blueberries.    This is starting to become popular and will certainy become popular here in North America.

 

Q: What is the difference between blueberry powder and fiber?

A: Blueberry powder is normally made from freeze dried blueberries with nothing added and just the moisture removed.  After the process, the freeze dried blueberries are milled into a powder.  This product is widely used in the health food and supplement business.  Also the powder gives flavor in confectionery fillings.   Fiber is the skin of the blueberry that has been removed when purees are made.   Fiber has a lot of the nutrients of blueberries and the flavor is quite mild.  USes for fiber in baking and cereals are being discovered each day.

 

Q:  What is the difference between IQF and case frozen blueberries?

A:  IQF, lke the name implies is individually quick frozen in a specially designed machine.  the bleberries are free flowinng and do not stick together.   They are used quite often in poly bagged blueberries where consumers use right out of the bag.   Case frozen, also as the name implies are blueberries which are washed and moisture removed from skin.  The are placed in a cardboard case and placed into the freezer to freeze as a case.   Both have different uses and applications.

 

April 2015

 

Q: What is the blueberry season in the USA?

A: We have always stated that the season begins in April in Florida and ends in British Columbia in October.   Typically Florida is first, but now we are also seeing production in Southern California in the early spring. 

 

Q: Are there certain cultivars of blueberries that work in specific applications.

A: This is a very difficult question.    Cultivars have been developed in the past mainly for the fresh market with target production windows in mind as well as texture, flavor and durability.   Recently a lot of manufacturers have begun dialog concerning product that is best suited for jams and pie fillings.   Some feel that a "soft skinned" blueberry will exude more juice into the product.   We normally do not encourage companies to specificy individual cultivars as this could narrow down the supply possibilities.   Best thing is to talk to your packer and let them know the end product use.  They have certainy know the "basket" of different cultivars that tend to work best and can advise.

 

Q: Where is the blueberry festival being held this year?

A: There are dozens of festivals held each year and spread to just about every prouction state.   Check out the North American Blueberry Council (NABC) website at http://www.nabcblues.org   The festivals are listed chonologically and are kept upto date.  

 

Q: Where can I take the family for a U-Pick experience?

A:  What a lot of fun!   Check out the NABC site at: http://www.nabcblues.org and locate a U-pick site near you.   Make sure to call in advance to ensure they are open for the season.  

 

Q: Where do fresh blueberries come from in the off season?

A:  Grocers want to keep the shelves stocked with fresh blueberries all year round -- 365 days year!   This is possible now with imports from neighbor countries to South.   Prouct from South America arrives just after the end of the North American Season and ends just about the time we start up again.  So this is a very good partnership and we are happy the public can get their share of blueberries in the winter months.

March 2015

 

Q: What is blueberry Powder?

A: There are different types of blueberry powder: drum dried, and freeze dried are the main types.   Most blueberry powders used in the nutrition and supplement industry are made from a freee dried blueberry.   The blueberry is freeze dried and then milled to a fine powder.   It takes about 12 lbs of blueberry to make one lb.   This is made from the whole berry and cotains all fo the nutrients of a blueberry.  

Q: Is blueberry juice concentrate shelf stable.  

A: A 65 Brix blueberry juice concentrate will require freezing or refrigeration for transportation for long periods of time -- like an ocean voyage.  It does have an extremely long shelf life and maintains a wonderful flavor and aroma for long periods of time.

 

Q: What is blueberry blossom honey?

A: Similar to mono-floral honeys -- blueberry blossom is made by bees who have visited blueberry blossoms.    The honey has a wonderful flavor and aroma -- not necessarily like the lflavor of a blueberry -- but desirable.    Blueberry blossom honey can normally be purchased in regions where blueberries are produced during the season.    This product is not to be confused with honey with blueberry or blueberry juice which is an interesting product in itself.   Some really good ones in Japan!

 

Q: Home much blueberry should be used in a blueberry muffin?

A: This question is asked all of the time -- even by esperienced bakers.    In the USA, there is no official Standard of Identity for blubeberry muffins, and the best answer we can give is that the product should have between 35-50 percent blueberry compared to the weight of the flour.   You should be able to see blueberry from the outside and a lots of blueberry on the inside.  

 

Q:  Why is there so little blueberry juice in juices labeled as blueberry juice?

A: In past years, blueberry juices have been uncommon.   Today, more and more products are hitting the shelves.   Blueberry flavor is very distinctive and some juice companies prefer to blend with other juices such as cranberry, pomegranate, apple and others.  The law is quite ambiguous about  fruit juices, but recently there have been some legal actions taken by consumers and juice companies that challenged the right of a manufacturer to present a juice as a specific juice flavor --even when it has a minor component of the juice which has been touted on the label.   Stay tuned, this debate has not ended.

 

Q: Why are there so many pet foods containing blueberries?

A: The real reason -- everryone has an old dog at home and will do anything to keep the four-legged family member happy and healthy.   Pet food companies like hman food companies are always working to position products as desirable and the addition of blueberries seems to be a great way to say a lot of good things.   The health benefits of blueberries have translated very well to thepet food industry and we expect more and more and more development in the future.

 

Q: What is the difference between a case frozen and IQF blueberry?

A number of companies are investing in individually quick frozen (IQF) lines.   This is a process where the berry is quick frozen on a continuous belt or tray as it passes through a tunnel.   This produces a free flowing berry.   Case frozen is different in that the blueberry is frozen in the case.   Each product meets a desired specification for customers.    

November 2014

 

Q: How are frozen blueberries sized?  

A: Most blueberry packers use sizing sorters to offer a blueberry of a specific size.   Quite simply: blueberries on a conveve yor are run over a series of screens which are callibrated to have a specific dimension in between screens.   It looks sort of  like a barbeque  grill with pieces that can be adjusted.   The smaller blueberries will fall through the gap and are sized to a specific measurement.    Highbush blueberries are from the forest and are not homogeneous.  So a buyer will need to work with a supplier to express the size of blueberry that is required by centemeters or inches.    Other measurements that are commonly used in the fruit buisness include the number of berries per pint.     This method is good for when a product requires a specific amount of fruit.

 

Q: Are some cultivars larger than others?   

A: Somet will say that certain cultivars such as the Ruble are small by nature.   In fact, the Ruble is techically a "wild" highbush blueberry.   But, there are no real precise ways to say that a specific variety will have smaller berries than others.   It is best to work with your blueberry supplier and express the size that is necesary and thee packer can make recommendations based on experience.

 

Q: What is a "Huckelberry? "

A: In recent years, the term has been used to describe wild forest blueberries.   In reality it is a diffeent species all together galylussacia Kunth which grows wild in the eastern USA.   Check out the USDA Plant Database for a clear definition.

 

Q: How are frozen blueberries packed?

A: Check out the specifics section of our food tech website for a list of typical case sizes.  But, in general they are packed in a polylined corrugated case in 25 and 30 lb weights.   Larger totes of various sizes are also available and are used in the food processing industry.

 

Q: How are blueberries harvested for the frozen channel?

A: You should be aware that most blueberries for the fresh market are hand picked.  About half of blueberries produced in North America go to the fresh market.   Processed or frozen blueberries are almost all machine harvested.  Large machines ride over the rows of blueberry plants and have rotors with "fingers" which gently shake the blueberries from the bush and onto a belt that guides the berries to field packing containners.  The containers are taken direct to the packing plant for washing and freezing in a number of different processes.

 

Q: Is there a season for frozen blueberries?  

A: Frozen blueberries are available year-round, but are mainly processed in the peak of the season which is normally June to late August.    At this time all regions of North America are in production and specific varieties and cultivars of blueberries are processing in a variety of freezing methods.  

 

Q: Are certain cultivars better suited to fresh and frozen channels?

A:  Over the century, highbush blueberry plant breeding has been focused on the fresh maket.   This means, large sweet berries with desirable crisp and firm skin texture.  At same time a number of blueberry cultivars have proven to be desirable for the processed market.    Some like Duke and "blue crop" and a slew of others are produced all over the continent.   

 

Q:How long can a frozen blueberry be stored?

A: We always say that a frozen blueberry can be stored two years or longer.   But, in reality a lot depends on the storage.   Under perfect conditions, the frozen blueberry will last longer, and in humid climates and less than ideal conditions, there will be limitations. 

 

Q: What is juice Stock?

A: this is the product that is sorted from the processing line and goes into drums for use in making juice and juice concentrate.   There are specifications for the amount of non blueberry material and unripened berries.    Unlike raspberries and citrus and other fruits, blueberries are not dedicated to the juice market.    H

 

Q: Is there such as thing as a "Blueberry paste?
A:Not yet.    Unlike other dried fruit, blueberries are not often used in extruded pastes.     But, there are some intermediate moisture ingredients such as "fruit chips" which are blended with pectin and other fruit juics to produce a paste like product.   

 

OCTOBER 2014

 

Q:Are there any highbush wild blueberries?   A walk in the forests of North America, and you will find highbush blueberries growing in the wild.   Whitesbog, New Jersey is a great example where Elizabeth White began to cultivate the wild forest blueberries commercially almost 100 years ago.  The real question is: are there highbush wild blueberries available commercially.   One of original blueberry cultivars from the wild, called the Rubel is a commercially viable product available in a frozen format.   The Rubel is typically smaller than most highbush blueberry cultivars which were cultivated for the fresh market where larger size is beneficial    A Rubel is a true wild blueberry. 

Q: Are specific cultivars of importance to food processors?    Blueberry cultivation is a fascinating science and of great interest to growers.   The main factors they look for are heartiness, production dates and size and handling characteristics.   Often a food processor will ask about specific cultivars and we appreciate the interest in blueberry science – but we normally advise to be careful with specification of specific cultivars.   Although some cultivars are considered fresh and some processed – it can be limiting and restrictive to home in on a cultivar.   Highbush blueberries are not homogeneous and there are differences with the cultivar and even row-to-row in a blueberry field.   Rather than specify a specific cultivar is is more effective to discuss the end use with your supplier and the characteristics you are looking for.  The packer can prescribe a collection most likely cultivars and also work on getting the right product for the end use.   Our packers have been in this business for generations and can share the knowledge of the decades on which product works for jams, jellies, sauces, muffins or any other end use.

Q: What are blueberries called in Mexico?   When we first started working in Mexico 20 years ago, we were told that the dictionary definition for proper Spanish was: arandanjo.   Problem is: it may be correct in Spain, but in Latin America, this also means cranberry.   This problem is similar with many fruits and nut translations.   Although some call a blueberry: Mora Azul which literally means blue berry – most now call the blueberry, a blueberry.   After all, blueberry products from the USA have been exported to Mexico for decades, such as jams and jellies.   The consumers are used to seeing the term blueberry.  Let's just go with blueberry!

What are blueberries called in Canada?   This is a complicated one.   Most of Anglo-phone Canada refers to the blueberry as a blueberry.   In Francophone Canada, the blueberry is often referred to as a bluette.  This literally means little blue flower.   Normally US shippers will have both blueberry and bluette.

Q: What is the difference between IQF and case frozen blueberries?   IQF blueberries are individually quick frozen in freezing machines of different sorts.  The blueberries are on a moving tray or conveyor which goes into a freezing tunnel then rapidly frozen.   The blueberries are free flowing and are perfect for poly bags and other applications where individual fruit identity is required.   Case frozen blueberries are washed and surface dried and packed off the line directly into poly lined cases.   These cases are taken to a freezer where they are left to freeze solid.   Both products fill different product needs. 

SEPTEMBER 2014

What is a Microwave dried blueberry?   This is a fairly new process utilizing a machine from Enwave which microwave and vacuums moisture from a blueberry.   The difference of a microwave dried blueberry is that the skin is not scarified as with freeze dried.  (Small holes are placed in the skin to allow removal of moisture.)   The Microwave dried product looks in tact and has a soft feel compared to a freeze dry.   Both processes fit different needs of the food industry for low moisture products.

What is a Rabbiteye Blueberry?   This is the Vaccinium Ashei which is the natie blueberry of the Southern USA.   You will find it growing wild in the swamps of Florida and Georgia and all throughout Mississippi, Alabama and East Texas.   Rabbiteye blueberries have a calyx which resembles the eye of a rabbit which is the origin of its name.   Rabbiteye blueberries grow well in the hot and humid areas of the South and are the foundations of the blueberry industry in these states.   They are available for the fresh business in early months of March and April when other parts of country are not producing.   Rabbitye blueberries have some unique characteristics from a functionality standpoint and frozen product work well in jams, jellies, sauces and bakery items.   

Are Organic Blueberries Available?  In the past few years, organic blueberry production has grown substantially in the USA.   While not all producers are involved, the certified organic growers do list this designation on their packs and websites.   We are currently working to identify organic on the USHBC suppliers list.  

How does a manufacturer get samples?  We recognize that sampling is an important part of the product development process.   Note that frozen samples are not the easiest thing to obtain, but the packer will normally send product on dry ice.   This will require some coordination!

What is blueberry juice stock? Blueberry production is dedicated to the fresh and frozen and further processed channels.   We do not dedicate production to production of juice.  (not yet at least).   Blueberry juice stock is made up of culled berries from the sorting line.   Berries are placed in drums and sent to refrigerated storage.   When a packer has enough for a truckload it is normally sent to a concentrate maker.   Care is taken to ensure that the juice stock contains a certain percentage of blue and not green or red berries.  Also there are specifications for leaves and foreign material.  The product goes through concentration afterwards.   There is a lot of interest nowadays in the development of juices – not from concentrate.   Therefore, a number of packers are willing to sell a “graded-juice-stock.”  This is lower grades of frozen that are not good enough for the retail regular frozen channels but too good for juice stock. 

AUGUST 2014

What about imported blueberries? In the US, we begin harvest in the South in March and end in the Pacific Northwest in September.   In non producing months, the US must import blueberries from other origins and especially Mexico and South America.  All blueberries, imported into the USA are assessed the same rate as domestic production and these funds go to market development activity such as research and promotion.

What are osmotic dried blueberries?  The US Department of defense has a specification for osmotic dried fruit.  This includes blueberries and others.   This is the same as an infused blueberry.   The fruit is dipped in a soda water to open the pores of the skin.   The fruit is then placed in a tank of syrup and the osmosis occurs.   The syrup or fruit juice concentrate passes through the skin of the blueberry and displaces the interior moisture.  At that time the blueberry is around 28 or more moisture content.   It is also shelf stable.   This product can be air dried to around 15-18 percent for snacks and also can be marketed as a higher moisture fruit ingredient sometimes called a “Juicy Blue” or “J-blue.”

What is blueberry flavor?   There are dozens or more blueberry flavors sold in the world by the major flavor companies.  The concept is that real blueberries in some products do not impart enough real flavor to satisfy.   I have never agreed with this, and think blueberries taste just great as is.   But, anyway some of the flavors are pretty good and some do not taste or smell like blueberries.  One thing to consider if you are a purist – blueberry essence.   This is covered in another Answer, but it is basically it is the liquid that is captured from volatiles in the processing of blueberry juice concentrate.   A little goes a long long way!

Do dry blueberries plump up in conditioning for bakery?  We all know bakers re-hydrate or “condition” dried fruit before use in bakery items.   Infused dried blueberries do not absorb much moisture in a soaking such as dried grapes.  But dried blueberries tend to be soft skinned and work well without conditioning. 

Is blueberry juice concentrate (BJC)  shelf stable?   Does it need refrigerated transportation? Typical BJC is 65 degrees Brix.   For long periods of transportation it does require refrigeration.   It should be ok in non-extreme temperatures for short trips.


Blue Color

Q: Why is the blueberry blue?

A: The blueberry is a true-blue food. It derives its bold coloring form the high content of anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is a water soluble pigment that imparts colors ranging from blue to shades of red.
bullet Blueberry color is an important quality factor influencing fresh-market value and the suitability of the berries of the berries for processing. Their intense red to blue color, and high pigment content, makes them a good candidate for colorant ingredients for foods.
bullet Blueberries begin their life as a little, green berry. What happens to transform them into a plump, blue pockets of flavor?
  1. Fertilization of the ovary
  2. Flower swells rapidly for about a month and then stops.
  3. Green berry develops with no change in size.
  4. Calyx end turns purplish and rest of berry becomes translucent in appearance.
  5. Next few days a light purple color begins to develop and then deeper purple.
  6. During color change the berry volume increases rapidly.
bullet Intensity of pigmentation increases during the first six days of color change. Therefore most of the anthocyanin. is developed in the fruit during this early stage of maturation.

 
Terminologies

Highbush (Cultivated) and Lowbush (Wild) Blueberries

Q: What is the difference between a cultivated (Highbush)  and a wild  (Lowbush) blueberry?

A: Both are blueberries. The lowbush is grown in Northern Maine and parts of Canada. It is from a different plant, but part of the vacinnium family. Both are blueberries, both fit various needs of the food industry. For our promotions however, we represent only the "highbush" or "cultivated" or "improved" blueberries!

"Blue Berries"

Q: I have a plant with blue berries in my yard. Can I eat them?

A: Absolutely NOT!  Like wild and cultivated mushrooms, there are a lot of blue colored berries which are not good to eat.  Some are poisonous.  Thankfully, most of the bad berries do not taste good -- I have heard.   But, if in doubt, do not touch them! When are blueberries harvested?

 
Q: What is an organic blueberry?
A: http://eap.mcgill.ca/CPBB_1.htm   Try this web site from Cascadian Farms in the State of Washington.  Check out the following page on organic blueberry production: http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/blueberry.html

 

Moldy Blueberries.  What happens if there is a white mold on the blueberries.  It is probably too late.  Blueberries are grown in nature and there are yeasts and molds that naturally occur in the environment.  Blueberries that you purchase should be free from molds when you buy them and for a reasonable amount of time after you store them in the fridge.  If they are moldy right away, take them back to the place where you purchased to discuss refund policy.  You can wash them off and eat them, but from my experience there will still be an off taste.  The molds are not harmful but not good tasting!  Typically -- if there is mold on the surface this is just the tip of the iceberg!  All we can say is sorry about that!  It happens when you are dealing with a natural product like blueberries!   


Applications (Manufacturing)
Q: I need tried and true bakery formulas?
A: Check out our Bakery Section for a number of formulas. If you need something not in the site, send an e mail to: bberry@blueberry.org

Q: What is the best way to add blueberries to my muffin batter and how much fruit should I add?
A: Blueberry muffins should contain 33% fruit, or one lb. of fruit for every two lb. of batter. Blueberries should be the last ingredient added to a muffin batter, just before the batter is poured into the muffin pan. Avoid over-mixing as it may cause breakage and color bleeding. Fresh, frozen or dried blueberries are the best forms of blueberries for muffins.

Q: Does size matter?
A: Blueberries plants were selected from the wild and they are natural.  They produce berries of all sorts of different sizes.  We call this naturally sized.  Some food processors desire small berries, for items such as mini muffins, and highbush blueberries do come in smaller sizes.  Also, the smaller the berry, the more skin to flesh ration exists.  The skin is where the blue pigment is stored which has the anthocyanin and other beneficial substances.   But, for most food processing uses, we recommend that you do not lock yourself into a berry size.  Naturally sized berries are always the best bet!

Resource: http://www.ushbc.org/technical.htm#Size 

 
Q: How do I store frozen blueberries?
A: Frozen blueberries come in cases that are normally poly lined.  Keep the seal in tact as long as possible, and when  used, re seal and keep frozen at: 0 to -10 degrees F (-18 to 23 degrees C)  Do not re freeze after they thaw!  

Q: What is the shelf life of a dried blueberry? 
A: A dried blueberry should last up to 12 months when stored in proper conditions.  That is, they should be stored away from intense heat and light. For freeze dried blueberries, they have a shelf life of around 3 months at room temperature and after that time should be stored in around 40 degrees F.    

Resource: http://www.ushbc.org/technical.htm#Dried  

Q: When should I use a dried blueberry over a fresh or frozen?
A: Dried berries are best suited for thick, heavier batters, where use of other applications is limited. These include formulations where fresh or frozen berries may rupture.  They are perfect for mini muffins or bagels. If using IQF berries, be sure to add them to the batter when they are still frozen, as this will minimize breakage of the berries.
Q: How do I make blueberry wine?
A:
  1. 8 gallon earthen crock
  2. 5 gallon glass bottle (or 5 one gallon jugs)
  3. rubber stoppers with one hole, to fit bottle or jugs
  4. rubber or plastic tubing for water sealing and racking
  5. juice press
  6. sterile bottles and corks for bottling wine A water seal is used during fermentation. The water seal keeps out oxygen (from the air) which causes growth of vinegar bacteria in the wine. Carbon dioxide gas formed during fermentation escapes by bubbling through the water of the seal. Fermentation is completed when bubbling stops. Soon after fermentation, a sediment may form on the bottom of the bottle. Siphon off the clear wine down to this sediment. Wash out sediment and pour wine back in the bottle until ready for bottling. Use sterile bottles and corks for bottling and storing wine. Store in cellar or other cool place.
Place ripe blueberries in earthenware crock. Pour one gallon hot water over berries for every gallon of fruit. Let stand three days, stirring twice daily. Press out juice. Add three pounds sugar to each gallon juice. Stir thoroughly to dissolve sugar. Let stand for three days. Strain. Pour into fermenting bottle or jugs. Use water seal process. Bottle in six months.   If this sounds too difficult, may we suggest that you contact: Tomasello Winery, Hammonton, New Jersey.wine@tomasellowinery.com or visit the web site:http://www.tomasellowinery.com/   Tell them Tom sent you!
 
Consumer Questions
Q: Are re-frozen blueberries ok after they have been thawed once or twice?
A: The blueberries are ok to use, but they will not have that great a texture.

Q: How do you properly freeze blueberries?
A: Freezing your blueberries is a great way to enjoy your fruit throughout the year. After you buy fresh blueberries, place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Be sure to not wash the blueberries before freezing. After they are frozen, transfer to an air tight plastic bag or freezer container and store. When you are ready to use your blueberries, take them out and wash prior using.

Q: How many blueberries is equal to one serving size?
A: Blueberries do come in a variety of size classifications, from small (190-250 berries per cup) to extra large (<90 berries per cup). One serving size of fresh blueberries is equal to one cup, or 140 grams. This contains 80 calories, with no fat, cholesterol or sodium. One serving also contains 5 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of total carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.    Please checkout our section on Nutrition Labelsfor a more complete answer.

Q: Where can I find blueberry gifts -- non food type that is?
A: Try the Blueberry Store, 525 Phoenix Street, South Haven, Michigan 49090; tel: 800-889-3324; tel: 616-637-6322; fax:616-637-8514; web site: http://www.theblueberrystore.com/

Q: How do I remove the blue color from my clothes!
A: I have always wondered why the blueberry growers are always dressed in blue shirts, slacks, sweaters...Check out the following sites:  http://www.chemistry.co.nz/stain_frame.htm   The chemistry page suggests: Rinse fresh marks in cold water. Soak any more difficult stains in a solution 1 Tbsp. vinegar in 1200 ml of warm water. Tide Laundry Detergent recommends: Soak up to 30 minutes by adding 1/2 scoop Tide with Bleach® per gallon of water. Use a PLASTIC bucket. Weight the item with a WHITE towel to keep submerged. Discard soak solution prior to laundering. http://www.tide.com/cgi-bin/detective.cgi
 
Q: Is there any way for me to ripen blueberries?
A: Place an apple in bag with your blueberries. The ethylene from the apple will cause the blueberries to ripen faster.

Q: How do I declump frozen blueberries?
A: Running the blueberries under running water should help break up the clumps. Or you can give it a bit longer time to thaw.
Q: When should I use a dried blueberry over a fresh or frozen?
A: Dried berries are best suited for thick, heavier batters, where use of other applications is limited. These include formulations where fresh or frozen berries may rupture.  They are perfect for mini muffins or bagels. If using IQF berries, be sure to add them to the batter when they are still frozen, as this will minimize breakage of the berries.
Q: Can the blue pigment be extracted and used as a food or textile color?
A: Sounds logical, but color experts say that the pigment is actually red when extracted.
 
 
Q: When are blueberries harvested?
A: This depends upon the region of North America.  The harvest normally begins in April in Florida and lasts into November in the north of British Columbia.  See the U-pick section of our site for dates and locations near you where you can see and get in on the harvest!

 
Q: Why do different blueberries taste different?
A: Although all of our blueberries are highbush varieties, they actually come from a number of different varieties developed through selection and plant breeding.  There are also a number of other variables, such as the time of harvest, location of the plant, etc.

Q: Where do I locate a blueberry harvesting rake?
A: This is actually a tool used in the lowbush industry.  We either handpick or mechanically harvest our highbush blueberries.  But, we always get this question.  So, here is a place you can get a genuine blueberry rake: http://www.hubbardrakes.com/

Q: Where can I get a blueberry juice?
A: Try: http://www.ramagefarms.com/blueberry_juice.htm   We will ad more as we learn of companies.  Please let us know any other places you may discover!   http://www.tropico2000.com/blueberry.htmhttp://www.blueberries.com/Store/index.htm

Q: Where can I get a bottle of blueberry wine?
A: Although there are winemakers across the country, there are actually very few commercial blueberry winemakers.  It is not all that easy to make a good blueberry wine, according to most experts.  If you hear of any good ones, please let us know.  Here are just a few:  
bullet http://www.tomasellowinery.com/    (Note link will leave the USHBC website)
bullet  http://www.valenzanowine.com/   (Note link will leave the USHBC website)
bullet http://www.renaultwinery.com/order.html Blueberry Champagne. (Note link will leave the USHBC website)
bullet Chester Hill Winery, Inc, Chester, MA  http://www.blueberrywine.com/  (Note link will leave the USHBC website)
bullet  Blossom Hill Winery, Richmond, BC. Canada.  http://www/blossomwinery.com   (Note link will leave the USHBC website)

Technical

 
Q: How much anthocyanin can be extracted from a blueberry?
A:  Everyone is asking this question today as we are learning more and more about the benefits of the blue pigment in the blueberry.  But, the answer is not all that clear cut.  You see, there are different levels of anthocyanin in different cultivars of blueberries.  There is a misconception that the Wild or lowbush blueberry contains more than the highbush.  This is not true.   Some highbush blueberries have very high levels of anthocyanin and some less.   The same is in the lowbush.  The "gold standard" of the anthocyanin levels is the European Blueberry, which is blue on the inside also.  Here is a good rule for this determination made on totally unscientific calculations.  Based on published research, highbush blueberries contain approximately 125mg/100 g. Therefore, a method which is very efficient could yield no more than 0.12% of the fresh weight of the blueberry. It is very unlikely that there could be 100% efficiency, therefore would expect yields more likely between 0.05 and 0.1%.  Our suggestion is to take the advice of the USDA Center on Aging and eat one half cup per day of blueberries!

Q: What is the shelf life of frozen blueberries?
A: With proper freezing, handling, storage and transportation, Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) blueberries should have around 24 months of shelf life.  There are many factors that influence this.   Some guides to proper handling of frozen fruit are included in the following information guides.   CODEX Alimentarius, Code of Practices for the Processing & Handling of Quick Frozen Foods. (CAC/RCP 8 -1976)
CODEX Alimentarius Standard for Quick Frozen Blueberries.  103-198

Work with your supplier to plan steps to get the optimal amount of shelf life for your frozen blueberries.

Q: What is the difference in the content of polyphenol between US and European cultivated blueberries, if there is.
A: A general good estimate is:
North American Blueberries    325 mg/100 g fresh weight
    European Bilberries    525 mg/100 g fresh weight.

For nutraceutical applications, US suppliers offer concentrated blueberry powders.

Q: What is the various size classifications for blueberries?
A: The U.S. Standards for Grades of Blueberries list the following classifications: Small 190-250 berries per cup; Medium 130-189 berries per cup; Large 90-129 berries per cup; Extra Large less than 90 berries per cup.

Q: What gives the blueberry a distinct flavor?
A: It is thought that volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds present exhibit a tremendous influence on the flavor/fragrance qualities of blueberries.  Check out a paper titled: Volatile Organic Composition in Blueberries by Stantford Overton and John J. Manura which can be accessed directly on line at:http://www.sisweb.com/referenc/applnote/app-43.htm 
 
Q: Blueberry pie fillings breakdown or become weepy?
A: Every now and then we do receive this question. This is not a common occurrence, and we get this question every few years and from different regions of the country. Blueberries and other ingredients used in filings are grown in nature. The suspected culprit of this occurrence is a specific yeast, called Candida Tropicales which produces the alpha amalayse enzyme which is responsible for this breakdown. The yeast is proliferating on the surface of the blueberry, therefore, there is no internal damage to the berry. Yeast on the surface creates the amalayse and this builds up over time and breaks down the starches. The enzyme can be killed by heat processing, but such processing can destroy the integrity of the blueberry. Suggested Solutions:

bullet It appears that freezing the blueberries for longer periods of time (2-3 months) after harvest inhibits the yeast activity.This may involve placing suspect berries into cold storage and using later.
bullet The more sanitary the packing and processing of the fruit the less likely the optimal wet and damp conditions necessary for yeast growth. This is not to say that certain packing companies are susceptible, as we have seen this in the most sophisticated fruit packing companies.
bullet A processor using a starch slurry may try adding yeast inhibitors, such as benzoates or sorbates to the slurry to inhibit the growth of the yeast.
bullet Note: Dr. Andrew Proctor of the Ohio State university is the most knowledgeable person on this topic, and has been consulted by our industry in the past. You can also consult Proctor's research, Chemical Inhibition of Candida Tropicalis in a Model Starch System, J.D. Vaughan & A. Proctor, Dept. of Food Science and Technology, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Was presented at the 1992 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting. (We will try to get the source document. (Editors Note: We have learned that Dr. Andy Proctor is at the University of Arkansas).

Q: What is the pectin content of blueberries?  

A: 0.3 g/73 g fresh weight (around 1/2 cup)

 Ref:     Marlett JA, Cheung T-F. Database and quick methods of assessing
 typical dietary fiber intakes using data for 228 commonly consumed
 foods. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997;97:1139-1151.

 


Growing/Horticulture
 
Books     Gardening     Nurseries     Plants     Resources
 
Q: Can you give a good resource for a blueberry grower?
A: In the USA and Canada, we are lucky to have a great system of Agricultural Extension Agents and Land Grant Universities.  Contact them first as they are your best source!  We are compiling a list, and you can locate many on the web!   (Extension Agents) pdf.11.92KB (12211 bytes) (Horticulture Zone.)  

Q: I am a backyard grower, or want to be grower of blueberries.
A: Seems like everyone is putting blueberry plants into the backyard!  Check out our our Backyard Blueberry page for some tips from the pros!

Q: I want to buy some blueberry plants?
A: Contact your local nursery first!  It is important to get a plant that is suited for your climate.  Most nurseries are stocking blueberry plants now due to the great interest in the health benefits!  I even have some plants here in California!   If you cannot locate a nursery who supplies, give your country Extension Agent a call, as they always know who is selling plants.  
 
 
Q: Any Good Blueberry Books?
A:  Here are the two most common books in the industry.  Dr. Childers at the University of Florida is now working on a new book and it is much anticipated in the industry.  Both of the following books are out of print now but you can obtain through inter-library loan at your local library.

1.Blueberry Science, Paul Eck, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1988

2. Blueberry Culture
Paul Eck, Editor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick NJ Norman Childers Rutgers University Press 4th printing 1989