It’s Blueberry Season in Florida

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Contributed by: Martin J. Allred   http://www.floridaography.com

When people think of Florida’s agriculture many think of orange juice. However, with Florida’s mild climate many other varieties of fruit and veggies or grown.

According to the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, hundreds of small blueberry farms have opened across Florida over the past three decades. Although, Florida produces only a fraction of the berries that Michigan does. Florida’s berries are harvested before other locations around the country. The season gives Florida farmers an advantage by limiting their competition. Blueberries are expensive to grow, costing about $20,000 an acre to plant. And, Florida varieties produce only 4 to 5 pounds of berries per bush, while Northern bushes can yield up to 20 pounds of fruit. Florida’s biggest competition comes from overseas and places like Chile, but even with this competition, Florida can still offer a much fresher product.  To learn more visit the FBGA site. http://blueberriesfromflorida.com/

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In terms of U.S. fruit consumption, blueberries rank only second to strawberries in popularity of berries. Blueberries are not only popular, but also repeatedly ranked in the U.S. diet as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA.

If you want to maximize your antioxidant benefits from blueberries, go organic!2016-04-16 11.25.43.jpg

If you want to maximize your antioxidant benefits from blueberries, go organic! A recent study has directly compared the total antioxidant capacity of organically grown versus non-organically grown highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L., var. Bluecrop) and found some very impressive results for the organically grown berries. Organically grown blueberries turned out to have significantly higher concentrations of total phenol antioxidants and total anthocyanin antioxidants than conventionally grown blueberries, as well as significantly higher total antioxidant capacity. source: http://www.whfoods.com/

Many organic farms will let you pick your own berries. Picking your own berries makes a great family activity together while supporting the small blueberry family farms. So go out and enjoy the warm Florida weather and pick until you’re blue….

Follow this link for growers near you.  http://blueberriesfromflorida.com/florida-u-pick-blueberry-farms/

I wanted to share this great breakfast recipe for enjoying those delicious Florida Blueberries.

Florida Blueberries Season April-May

Blueberry-Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk

3/4 cup ricotta*

3 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cups Fresh Blue Berries and Strawberries

2 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions

Preheat griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat on the stove top. In a mixing bowl mix flour,  sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a separate large mixing bowl, mix milk, ricotta, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Add lemon zest with lemon juice to milk mixture along with melted butter and blend until combined (it will curdle a little, that’s fine, but you’ll want to hurry and pour it into the dry mixture). Pour into flour mixture and whisk just to combined (batter should be slightly lumpy). Pour about 1/4 – 1/3 cup batter onto buttered griddle or skillet then drop fresh blue berries in the batter after pouring batter on griddle. Cook until bubbles begin to appear on surface and bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook opposite side until golden brown.

Lower the calories about 1/2 by using low-fat ricotta, and low fat milk and only the egg whites. Keep pancakes in preheated holding oven until all is done. Serve warm dusted with powdered sugar and blue berries and strawberries or fruit compote..

If you want more lemon flavor add more lemon zest.

About chowjudge

Martin Allred is a professional photographer and frequent traveler. His assignments cover most of the U.S. and Canada. Martin is a native of New Orleans and currently resides in the Sarasota/Tampa Bay area of Florida.
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