July 18, 2015
Picking Blueberries at the Farm
Plump, juicy and sweet, with vibrant colors from red to the deepest purple-black, blueberries are one of nature’s finest treasures. And, here at my farm, the blueberry bushes are covered with delicious fruits.
This week, we picked lots of blueberries. I love to use them for jams, jellies, and pies, but they’re also wonderful in pancakes, cobblers and of course, in handfuls on their own. Low in fat, yet packed with vitamin-C and antioxidants, it’s not surprising they’re one of America’s favorite fruits to eat.
Here are some photos of my blueberry patch, and this year’s prolific harvest. Happy National Blueberry Month!
1 Blueberries are among the most popular berries for eating. Here in the United States, they are second only to strawberries.
2 Blueberries, cranberries and concord grapes are the only three fruits native to North America.
3 At the farm, the blueberry bushes are located near my Equipment Shed, next to my grove of quince trees.
4 I grow many varieties including Bluegold, Chandler, Darrow, Jersey, and Patriot.
5 A few years ago, I built this pergola for the blueberry patch, so I could cover it with netting during the picking season and keep them safe from the birds.
6 These posts are 18th century Chinese granite uprights. I've used them all over the farm including the clematis pergola, my apple espaliers, and to support my raspberry bushes.
7 The netting covers the blueberry bushes on all sides plus the top.
8 And, I use a durable plastic bird netting, which is reusable every season.
9 The netting, which reaches all the way to the ground is secured with wire U-stakes, so it's taut and safe from visiting creatures. The structure creates a nice, secure enclosure for the blueberry crops.
10 Blueberries are high in fiber, high in vitamin-C, and contain one of the highest amounts of antioxidants among all fruits and vegetables.
11 In general, blueberries are about 5-16 millimeters large with a flared crown at the end. They are pale greenish at first, and then reddish purple and finally dark purple-blue when ripe for picking.
12 They are also covered in a protective powdery epicuticular wax known as the "bloom".
13 When harvesting the fruits, select plump, full berries with a light gray-blue color. A berry with a hint of red is not fully ripened.
14 Blueberries don't actually reach their full flavor until a few days after they turn blue, so a tip to know which ones are the best is to tickle the bunches lightly - only the true ripe ones will fall into your hand.
15 Laura likes to pick berries using little plastic containers and then move them into bigger bowls or buckets.
16 Blueberry bushes typically bear fruit in the middle of a growing season, in July, the peak of its harvest during National Blueberry month.
17 Look at all the berries that were growing on the bushes this week!
18 After they are picked, store blueberries unwashed for a few days in the refrigerator in layers of paper towels and covered in plastic wrap up to five days.
19 Blueberries also freeze very well and once defrosted, can be used identically to fresh berries in almost any way.
20 I like to freeze them first in single layers on cookie sheets, then move them to plastic bags - this keeps the berries from getting crushed.
21 Blueberry bushes are resistant to most pests and diseases, and can produce berries for up to 20-years.
22 After the few years, it's time to prune the blueberry bushes every year to remove branches whose berries may touch the ground, and to prune any spindly or dead twigs.
23 Our intern, Nicole, had a very good time picking blueberries, which is great because there are a lot more blueberries to pick!