When shopping for cultivated blueberries, “here’s a rare case where bigger is better,” says Abby Dodge, a Fine Cooking contributing editor and the author of Great Fruit Desserts. Look for the fattest berries you can find; they should be greyish purple and covered with a silvery bloom. (Wild blueberries—much harder to find outside of the Northeast—should be tiny and almost black.) Don’t bother sniffing: Unlike many other fruits, ripe blueberries won’t be very fragrant.
Lemon, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg are good at coaxing out blueberry flavor, but go easy on the spices so as not to overpower the berry flavor. Blueberries are rich in pectin; with a bit of gentle cooking, they’ll thicken into a delicious compote to drizzle over shortcakes or meringue shells, says Abby. Blueberries are sturdier than other berries and thus freeze quite well.