June 27th, 2015 1:28 am

First Posted: 7/30/2013

Now is the time to venture out to pick our local blueberries. Northeastern Pennsylvanians are lucky to have local berries plentiful with more than one grower to choose from.

Blueberries are one of my favorite foods. They come packed with many nutrients and phytochemicals for such limited calories. Here is the average breakdown.

One cup of unsweetened blueberries (so delicious, no need to add sugar) contains 82 calories, 4.4 grams of fiber, 0 sodium and 30% of our daily need for Vitamin C.

If your culinary skills limit your blueberry usage to pancakes and muffins, here are a few new ideas which require few skills in the kitchen.

Blueberry Vinegar

1 cup fresh blueberries

2 cups white vinegar

2 tablespoon sugar

Place blueberries in a sterilized 1-quart glass jar. To sterilize, bring jar and 4 quart pot filled with water to a boil. Boil 1 minute.

Combine vinegar and sugar in a non-aluminum saucepan over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and pour vinegar mixture over blueberries. Cover and let stand at room temperature 3 days or longer.

Strain blueberry mixture through several layers of damp cheesecloth into decorative jars; discard blueberries. Seal jars with a cork or other airtight lid. Yield 2 cups.

Other quick uses for blueberries are: Toss them in with cornbread mix to make Cornbread Blueberry Muffins . Toss them into a mixture of greens, almonds and red pepper. Or, just pop a few frozen blueberries into your mouth to cool off.

It is important to handle and store blueberries properly. Here are some tips:

Refrigerate blueberries immediately after picking or bringing them home from the market.

Discard any decayed or moldy blueberries.

Gently wash blueberries in cold water just prior to using. Drain them in a colander or place on paper towels to dry.

Store blueberries in a container with a loose cover. Depending upon the initial freshness of the berries, they can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days to 1 week.