Hello. We’re so glad you came to visit us here at the Blueberry site - it’s a great place to hang out and we’ve lots to tell you. Firstly, we’re cultivated berries but we do have some wild cousins that grow in parts of Canada, northern Europe as well as North America. But wild or cultivated we all have the same colour skin - dark navy-blue to blue-black. We’re roundish, about the size of a marble, with a smooth skin covered in a fine, white powder or ‘bloom’. Our flesh is bluish and contains very small seeds. We were once known as ‘star-berries’ because of the star-shaped calyx on the top of our heads. We’re totally edible - seeds, calyx and all.
Did you know?
Why Blueberries Are Good To Eat
How They are Grown and Harvested
Our parent plants are perennial, deciduous bushes (this means they flower and fruit once a year and lose their leaves each autumn). However, some of the more uncommon varieties are evergreens, i.e. their leaves stay green all year round.
Blueberry bushes begin to bear fruit within 12 months after planting and can grow to over 7.5 metres but are generally pruned back to 1.5 - 2 metres to make picking easier. They require long periods of cool weather during the winter to allow the flower buds to develop properly, then in spring produce white or pink flowers from which berries form. We grow in clusters and ripen on the bush which takes between 60 to 120 days after the flowers have reached full bloom.
We’re generally harvested by hand because we can be easily damaged. However, if we’re to be used to make jams and cakes etc, we’re usually picked by machines.
How to Keep Blueberries
Prime Growing Areas
History of Blueberries
In Australia we have only been grown commercially for the past 20 - 30 years. We were originally introduced into Australia in the 1950’s when field trials with varieties imported from North America were conducted by the Victorian Department of Agriculture. However, there were so many disease problems in those early days that commercial cultivation wasn’t viable.
So we grew unchecked on the Department’s land until the mid 1970’s when Ridley Bell, then an officer of the Department, saw the potential for us as a crop in the prevailing economic climate. There was, and still is, an export market for us in the Northern Hemisphere during their winter.
Fun Ways to Cook and Eat Blueberries
Here are a few ideas you might like to try out: