Blueberries, or star berries as they were once called because of the star-shaped calyx on their blossom ends, are one of only a handful of fruits indigenous to North America.
While hundreds of varieties exist, most consumers will only encounter three:
• Northern highbush blueberries, the most common kind available in supermarkets are the result of Frederick Coville and Elizabeth White’s work in early 20th-century New Jersey. The pair crossbred several varieties of wild blueberries to create easy-to-pick berries that grow well in a range of conditions.
• Southern rabbiteye, a relative of the Northern highbush, which thrives in the South and gets its name from its rabbit-eye shaped calyx.
• Lowbush, also called wild blueberries, which are hardy and grow throughout Maine and eastern Canada. The plants, though cared for and harvested by farmers, are not planted in a traditional sense, but spread through underground runners. They grow 1 to 2 feet high and produce smaller, sweet-tangy fruit. Fresh wild blueberries are rarely, if ever, available this far south, but most supermarkets carry frozen wild blueberries.
For details and recipes, read Wednesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Style.