New Zealand’s main supply of fresh blueberries for the season are available and Kiwis are being encouraged to try some creative culinary combinations.
Dan Peach, Chairman of NZ Blueberries, says this ultra-healthy snack can be enjoyed straight from the punnet at any time of day. But adding them to pizza, salads and meat dishes for an extra burst of colour and flavour is also right on trend.
“People’s idea of what a salad is has changed quite a lot in recent years. It’s common now to add different fruits and nuts for taste and texture, and blueberries are an ideal fruit to include because they’re super healthy as well as delicious.”
“Pizza is another popular combination that people can adapt – take a tasty chicken pizza, add a handful of fresh blueberries and you’ll pack some extra antioxidants into your day. Blueberries are a pretty versatile fruit and you can use them in so many ways.”
Blueberries contain higher antioxidant levels than almost any other fruit or vegetable.They’ve been proven to enhance weight loss, boost your brain and bowel function, promote good eyesight and help keep your cholesterol under control.
New Zealand’s main commercial crops of blueberries are grown in the Waikato, Hawkes Bay, the Far North and Bay of Plenty. This season runs from the beginning of December through until March and the summer is forecast to be a bumper harvest.
“Available volumes will definitely be up on last year and the season looks like it will start a few days earlier too so there will be more fruit available in that pre-Christmas window which is great news.” Peach says.
“It was a difficult spring because it was quite wet and cold but recently temperatures have been a lot warmer. There are more sunshine hours forecast over the next two or three weeks and that extra sunshine will bring the berries on nicely.”
In addition to enjoying blueberries in salads and as a pizza topping this summer, they are an ideal addition to lunchboxes, smoothies, kids’ snack platters and home baking.
RECIPE: Sweet and savoury summer blueberry pizza
Naan flatbreads (2)
1 teaspoon of olive or avocado oil
1 cup sliced red onion
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup mozzarella cheese
½ cup feta cheese
1 cup blueberries
Basil for garnish
Ensure your oven is preheated to 220°c. Prepare your pizza stone or line a baking tray with baking paper. Arrange the naan and lightly spray or brush with water. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium pan over a medium low heat. Add the honey and stir fry the onion. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelised (3-5 minutes) and then remove from heat.Spread the mozzarella over the naan and top with crumbled feta and the honey caramelized onions. Sprinkle the blueberries on top.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden and the blueberries are ready to burst. Remove from the over and garnish with fresh basil.
Blueberries New Zealand Inc (BBNZ) represents the blueberry industry in New Zealand. The group helps growers promote and develop the local industry, comply with regulations, and co-ordinate a research and development programme.
New Zealand’s blueberry industry is rapidly expanding. There are 600 hectares planted at present in both the North and South Islands. BBNZ consists of grower members, exporter members and associate members and aims to further the interests of all blueberry industry participants.