Latin Name: Vaccinium myrtillus syn. Vaccinium myrtillus oreophilum, Vaccinium oreophilum.
Plant Family: Ericaceae
Other Names: Bilberry, European Blueberry, Blaeberry, Black Whortles. Whinberry, Trackleberry. Huckleberry, Hurtleberry & Whortleberry.
Description: Bilberry is a native of Europe, northern Asia and North America; it is a perennial deciduous shrub growing up to 30 cm. The leaves are oval and finely toothed with a leathery look, starting out with a pinkish tinge then turning yellowy-green finally turning red in the autumn. The flowers are waxy white to pale pink and bell-shaped and hang beneath the new leaves. The blue-black berries are round, with a flat top.
Brief History: The fruit of the bilberry has been used for over 1,000 years in the west. During WWII RAF pilots discovered that their night vision improved after consuming bilberry jam.
The fruits can be turned into jams and jellies and make an excellent substitute for currants when baking. A blue/ black dye can be obtained from the fruit which can then be used to dye wool and cloth, it was used to dye uniforms during WWI, it can also be used as a colouring for ink.
Shelf life of two years provided that goods are stored in an airtight container in ambient conditions.
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