The chemical composition of the lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) cultivars Blomidon, Cumberland, and Fundy were examined at three stages of fruit maturity, before and after refrigerated storage, in a 2-year study. There were differences (P< 0.001) related to maturity and cultivar in berry fresh weight, percentage dry matter, fruit firmness, percentage soluble solids, titratable acidity, and the concentration of sugar, acids, and anthocyanins. Among the nine organic and phenolic acids measured, seven acids varied among the maturity groups and eight varied among the cultivars. Between the 2 years of study there was a 60% difference in total fruit acid content as well as in the relative amounts of each acid. The 2-year mean profile of lowbush blueberry acids was distinctly different from that recently reported for highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) and rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei Reade). The level of certain acids as well as the concentration of anthocyanins increased during cold storage. Estimation of sugar concentration by percentage soluble solids overestimated sugar concentration by 3070. Acid measurement by titration underestimated acid content as measured by HPLC by 61%. Results of this study illustrate the variation in the chemical composition of lowbush blueberry fruit among cultivars, maturities, and seasons, and can be used to compare lowbush blueberries with other Vaccinium species.
The antioxidant properties of blueberries have been examined only in ripe fruit, although fruit of different maturities are used in processed food products. In this study, highbush blueberry cultivars Bergitta, Bluegold, and Nelson highbush blueberry fruit at different stages of ripeness were examined to characterize differences in oxygen radical absorbing capacity (ORAC) and the phenolic components responsible for ORAC. Underripe fruit at different stages of maturity were also stored at 20 °C for up to 8 days to assess changes in ORAC and phenolic content. Anthocyanin content was substantially higher in fruit of more advanced stages of ripeness. In contrast, the phenolic content and ORAC were lower in the riper fruit. Anthocyanins continued to form during storage, although rate of pigment formation declined after about 4 days. Less anthocyanin pigment was formed in the less ripe fruit. After 8 days of storage, the anthocyanin content of fruit harvested 5% to 50% or 50% to 95% blue exceeded that of ripe fruit. Up to 60% of the total phenolic content could be accounted for by anthocyanins. ORAC was positively correlated with total phenolic content (R2 = 0.78), but not with anthocyanin content.