The botanical name of the forest blueberry is Vaccinium Myrtillus and, like cranberries and cowberry, it belongs to the heather family. The small shrubs grow creeping in sunny or semi-shady and wind-protected locations. The plant prefers loose and rather acidic soils and is hardy. Around 400 different varieties belong to the genus Vaccinium Myrtillus - most of them grow in the northern hemisphere, for example in Europe and northern Asia. There, the forest blueberry likes to be found in sparse forests or near swamps and bogs. The plant also feels at home in the garden if the soil and light conditions are right.
If the forest blueberries like their location, they spread rapidly - gathering the small round fruits is therefore also permitted in the wild. Wild blueberries are only about half the size of cultivated blueberries and, unlike the cultivated varieties, have an intense red-blue flesh. When is the best time to harvest wild blueberries depends primarily on the plant's location: The more light it receives, the faster the berries taste sweet and aromatic. In Central Europe, the months of august and september promise the most picking luck. When picking, make sure that the berries are deep blue and can be easily detached from the shoots, because wild blueberries do not ripen again after harvesting.
Anthocyanins provide the intense colour of wild blueberries
The intense colour of the forest blueberry is caused by anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a group of secondary plant substances. In cultivated blueberries, these colouring substances are not contained in the pulp. Wild blueberries are therefore even suitable for dyeing fabrics and Easter eggs - but beware: fingers, teeth and clothing also quickly experience their blue miracle.
When fully ripe, wild blueberries have a characteristic and extremely tasty aroma with a fine acidity when eaten. This is why blueberries are popular in pastries, muffins, smoothies or dried in muesli mixes. Forest blueberries are also excellent for making Blueberry juice or Blueberry nectar, jams and jellies.
What is the difference between cultivated blueberries and forest blueberries?
Cultivated blueberries are a cultivated form that goes back to a North American blueberry variety. Native wild blueberries from the forest are smaller, more aromatic and have a deep blue flesh, whereas cultivated blueberries are larger and white inside.
When is the harvest time for wild blueberries?
For wild blueberries, it depends on the location when the fruits are ripe. As a rule, the best harvest time for native forest blueberries is august and september.