When to pick blueberries?

Blueberry Tips When Picking Your Own Fresh Blueberries

How to pick the best blueberry!

These blueberry tips will help you bring home the best blueberries whether you harvest at a U-pick farm, or purchase from your grocery store or farmers’ market.

Ripe blueberries are plump and deep blue with a dusting of gray on the surface. A blueberry that is firm or shows any hint of red isn’t fully ripened and will likely be tart. White and green colored blueberries are not ripe, leave them on the bush or in the store as they will not ripen. Blueberries that have turned purple, red or blue-ish may ripen after they are picked.

Do not expose picked blueberries to sun or heat in closed bags or containers. Blueberries are fragile and heating them up will shorten how long they can be stored without freezing or cooking. You will note that in the store the containers have lots of holes. That is so they can breathe!

When inspecting packed blueberries, look for smooth, blue skin. If you see wrinkled blueberries, fuzzy white mold or leakage, the blueberries are in the process of spoiling!

When you get your blueberries home, do not wash them before freezing, or until you are ready to eat or cook with them. Washing blueberries prematurely makes them mushy. Sort through your blueberries, removing any with mold. Removing the moldy blueberries will keep one from spoiling the whole bunch.

Refrigerate your blueberries as soon as possible. If refrigerated, fresh-picked blueberries will keep up to two weeks in ideal conditions. Best to eat them within a week for best taste and texture!

Important how to pick blueberry tip: Baskets are better than bags to store blueberries while you are picking them. Some U-pick locations provide containers, check with the U-pick farm before you visit.

Cookbook:Blueberry

Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Fruit

The blueberry is a small sweet fruit.

Wild blueberries are smaller than cultivated ones. Blueberries have a protective light powdery coating on the skins and tend to last longer than other berry varieties. Nearly half of the cultivated blueberries grown are sold as fresh blueberries. Fresh blueberries are available for nearly eight months of the year from producers across the United States and Canada. North America is the world’s leading blueberry producer, accounting for nearly 90% of world production.

Selection

In general, berries should be dry, firm, well shaped, and eaten within a week after purchase. If you can’t eat them that soon, remember that berries freeze well! It’s best to buy berries that are ‘in-season’ as they’ll cost less and are more ripe and flavorful than ‘out-of-season’ berries.

Blueberries must be ripe when purchased, as they do not continue to ripen after harvesting. Stay away from containers of berries with juice stains which may be a sign that the berries are crushed and possibly moldy; soft, watery fruit that means the berries are overripe; dehydrated, wrinkled fruit that means the berries have been stored too long.

Select blueberries that are firm, dry, plump, and smooth-skinned. Berries should be completely blue (deep-purple blue to blue-black) with no tinge of red; reddish berries aren’t ripe but can be used in cooking.

Storage

Keep blueberries refrigerated, unwashed, in a rigid covered container. Water on fresh blueberries hastens deterioration, so do not wash before refrigeration. They should last up to two weeks if they are freshly picked.

To freeze, first rinse then dry thoroughly. Discard immature or overripe berries. Store in airtight freezer containers, for up to one year.

Cooking

  • Blueberries tend to change color during cooking. Acids, like lemon juice and vinegar, make the blue in blueberries turn red. In an alkaline environment, such as a batter with too much baking soda, the blueberries may turn greenish-blue.
  • To reduce the amount of color streaking, which can turn the batter an unappealing slate gray color, stir your blueberries (right from your freezer, if frozen) into your cake or muffin batter last.
  • When making pancakes and waffles, add the blueberries as soon as the batter has been poured on the griddle or waffle iron. This will make the pancakes prettier and they’ll be easier to flip. If frozen blueberries are used, cooking time may have to be increased to be sure the berries are heated through.

Seasonality

Seasonality tables|Autumn|Winter|Spring|Summer|All year
Blueberry Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
northern hemisphere
southern hemisphere

Blueberry becomes available halfway through spring, with a peak in the summer. The North American blueberry harvest (responsible for most of the world’s supply) runs from mid-April through early October, with peak harvest from mid-May to August.

External Links

  • Suite 101
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Wikipedia has related information at Blueberry

  1. Azuma A, Ban Y, Sato A, Kono A, Shiraishi M, Yakushiji H, Kobayashi S (2015) MYB diplotypes at the color locus affect the ratios of tri/di-hydroxylated and methylated/non-methylated anthocyanins in grape berry skin. Tree Genet Genomes 11:1–13

    • Article
    • Google Scholar
  2. Bailly C, Cormier F, Do CB (1997) Characterization and activities of S-adenosyl-L-methionine:cyanidin 3-glucoside 3’-O-methyltransferase in relation to anthocyanin accumulation in Vitis vinifera cell suspension cultures. Plant Sci 122:81–89

    • CAS
    • Article
    • Google Scholar
  3. Butelli E, Titta L, Giorgio M, Mock HP, Matros A, Peterek S, Schijlen EGWM, Hall RD, Bovy AG, Luo J, et al (2008) Enrichment of tomato fruit with health-promoting anthocyanins by expression of select transcription factors. Nat Biotechnol 26:1301–1308

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  4. Castellarin SD, Gambetta GA, Wada H, Shackel KA, Matthews MA (2011) Fruit ripening in Vitis vinifera: spatiotemporal relationships among turgor, sugar accumulation, and anthocyanin biosynthesis. J Exp Bot 62:4345–4354

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • PubMed Central
    • Google Scholar
  5. Dussi MC, Sugar D, Wrolstad RE (1995) Characterizing and quantifying anthocyanins in red pears and the effect of light quality on fruit color. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 120:785–789

    • CAS
    • Google Scholar
  6. Ehlenfeldt MK, Prior RL (2001) Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and phenolic and anthocyanin concentrations in fruit and leaf tissues of highbush blueberry. J Agric Food Chem 49:2222–2227

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  7. Gao L, Mazza G (1995) Characterization of acetylated anthocyanins in lowbush blueberries. J Liq Chromatogr 18:245–259

    • CAS
    • Article
    • Google Scholar
  8. Gavrilova V, Kajdzanoska M, Gjamovski V, Stefova M (2011) Separation, characterization, and quantification of phenolic compounds in blueberries and red and black currants by HPLC-DAD-ESI-MS n. J Agric Food Chem 59:4009–4018

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  9. Giusti MM, Wrolstad RE (2001) Characterization and measurement of anthocyanins by UV-visible spectroscopy. In RE Wrolstad, TE Acree, EA Decker, MH Penner, DS Reid, SJ Schwartz, CF Shoemaker, DM Smith, P Sporns, eds, Current Protocols in Food Analytical Chemistry. John Wiley & Sons, NY, USA, pp 1.2.1-1.2.13

    • Google Scholar
  10. Giusti MM, Wrolstad RE (2003) Acylated anthocyanins from edible sources and their applications in food systems. Biochem Eng J 14:217–225

    • CAS
    • Article
    • Google Scholar
  11. Guyer L, Hofstetter SS, Christ B, Lira BS, Rossi M, Hortensteiner S (2014) Different mechanisms are responsible for chlorophyll dephytylation during fruit ripening and leaf senescence in tomato. Plant Physiol 166:44–56

    • Article
    • PubMed
    • PubMed Central
    • Google Scholar
  12. Howard LR, Clark JR, Brownmiller C (2003) Antioxidant capacity and phenolic content in blueberries as affected by genotype and growing season. J Sci Food Agric 83:1238–1247

    • CAS
    • Article
    • Google Scholar
  13. Hugueney P, Provenzano S, Verries C, Ferrandino A, Meudec E, Batelli G, Merdinoglu D, Cheynier V, Schubert A, Ageorges A (2009) A novel cation-dependent O-methyltransferase involved in anthocyanin methylation in grapevine. Plant Physiol 150:2057–2070

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • PubMed Central
    • Google Scholar
  14. Jaakola L (2013) New insights into the regulation of anthocyanin biosynthesis in fruits. Trends Plant Sci 18:477–483

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  15. Jaakola L, Maatta K, Pirttila AM, Torronen R, Karenlampi S, Hohtola A (2002) Expression of genes involved in anthocyanin biosynthesis in relation to anthocyanin, proanthocyanidin, and flavonol levels during bilberry fruit development. Plant Physiol 130:729–739

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • PubMed Central
    • Google Scholar
  16. Jaakola L, Poole M, Jones MO, Kamarainen-Karppinen T, Koskimaki JJ, Hohtola A, Haggman H, Fraser PD, Manning K, King GJ, et al (2010) A SQUAMOSA MADS box gene involved in the regulation of anthocyanin accumulation in bilberry fruits. Plant Physiol 153: 1619–1629

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • PubMed Central
    • Google Scholar
  17. Lichtenthaler HK (1987) Chlorophylls and carotenoids: pigments of photosynthetic biomembranes. Methods Enzymol 148:350–382

    • CAS
    • Article
    • Google Scholar
  18. Little AC (1975) Off on a tangent. J Food Sci 40:410–411

    • Article
    • Google Scholar
  19. Liu T, Song S, Yuan Y, Wu D, Chen M, Sun Q, Zhang B, Xu C, Chen K (2015) Improved peach peel color development by fruit bagging. Enhanced expression of anthocyanin biosynthetic and regulatory genes using white non-woven polypropylene as replacement for yellow paper. Sci Hortic 184:142–148

    • CAS
    • Google Scholar
  20. Lucker J, Martens S, Lund ST (2010) Characterization of a Vitis vinifera cv. Cabernet Sauvignon 3’,5’-O-methyltransferase showing strong preference for anthocyanins and glycosylated flavonols. Phytochemistry 71:1474–1484

    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  21. Marinova D, Ribarova F (2007) HPLC determination of carotenoids in Bulgarian berries. J Food Compos Anal 20:370–374

    • CAS
    • Article
    • Google Scholar
  22. McGuire RG (1992) Reporting of objective color measurements. HortScience 27:1254–1255

    • Google Scholar
  23. Nyman NA, Kumpulainen JT (2001) Determination of anthocyanidins in berries and red wine by high-performance liquid chromatography. J Agric Food Chem 49:4183–4187

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  24. Oliveira C, Amaro LF, Pinho O, Ferreira IMPLVO (2010) Cooked blueberries: anthocyanin and anthocyanidin degradation and their radical-scavenging activity. J Agric Food Chem 58:9006–9012

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  25. Prior RL, Lazarus SA, Cao G, Muccitelli H, Hammerstone JF (2001) Identification of procyanidins and anthocyanins in blueberries and cranberries (Vaccinium spp.) using high-performance liquid chromatography/ mass spectrometry. J Agric Food Chem 49:1270–1276

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  26. Ramazzotti S, Filippetti I, Intrieri C (2008) Expression of genes associated with anthocyanin synthesis in red-purplish, pink, pinkishgreen, and green grape berries from mutated ‘Sangiovese’ biotypes: a case study. Vitis 47:147–151

    • CAS
    • Google Scholar
  27. Ribera AE, Reyes-Diaz M, Alberdi M, Zuniga GE, Mora ML (2010) Antioxidant compounds in skin and pulp of fruits change among genotypes and maturity stages in highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) grown in southern Chile. J Soil Sci Plant Nutr 10:509–536

    • Article
    • Google Scholar
  28. Rowan DD, Cao M, Lin-Wang K, Cooney JM, Jensen DJ, Austin PT, Hunt MB, Norling C, Hellens RP, Schaffer RJ, et al (2009) Environmental regulation of leaf color in red 35S:PAP1 Arabidopsis thaliana. New Phytol 182:102–115

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  29. Singha S, Baugher TA, Townsend EC, D’Souza MC (1991) Anthocyanin distribution in ‘Delicious’ apples and the relationship between anthocyanin concentration and chromaticity values. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 116:497–499

    • CAS
    • Google Scholar
  30. Veitch NC, Grayer RJ (2011) Flavonoids and their glycosides, including anthocyanins. Nat Prod Rep 28:1626–1695

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  31. Wang SY, Chen CT, Sciarappa W, Wang CY, Camp MJ (2008) Fruit quality, antioxidant capacity, and flavonoid content of organically and conventionally grown blueberries. J Agric Food Chem 56: 5788–5794

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  32. Wu X, Prior RL (2005) Systematic identification and characterization of anthocyanins by HPLC-ESI-MS/MS in common foods in the United States: fruits and berries. J Agric Food Chem 53:2589–2599

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  33. Xie Q, Hu Z, Zhang Y, Tian S, Wang Z, Zhao Z, Yang Y, Chen G (2014) Accumulation and molecular regulation of anthocyanin in purple tumorous stem mustard (Brassica juncea var. tumida Tsen et Lee). J Agric Food Chem 62:7813–7821

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  34. Yang M, Koo SI, Song WO, Chun OK (2011) Food matrix affecting anthocyanin bioavailability: review. Curr Med Chem 18:291–300

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  35. Zhang Y, Butelli E, Martin C (2014) Engineering anthocyanin biosynthesis in plants. Curr Opin Plant Biol 19:81–90

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar
  36. Zifkin M, Jin A, Ozga JA, Zaharia LI, Schernthaner JP, Gesell A, Abrams SR, Kennedy JA, Constabel CP (2012) Gene expression and metabolite profiling of developing highbush blueberry fruit indicates transcriptional regulation of flavonoid metabolism and activation of abscisic acid metabolism. Plant Physiol 158:200–224

    • CAS
    • Article
    • PubMed
    • Google Scholar

U.S. growers expect strong blueberry season

The domestic blueberry season was kicking off in mid-April with harvesting already underway in Georgia, said Victoria De Bruin, marketing manager for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

“We are just starting the season and have a long way to go,” she said.

The North Carolina harvest was expected to begin in early May, and California should reach peak harvest at the end of May or beginning of June.

The New Jersey harvest was expected to start in mid-June, and Indiana should have an average crop starting sometime from mid-June to the end of the month.

Oregon was into full bloom, and the crop looks “promising,” De Bruin said.

“Harvest is anticipated at the end of June.”

Washington’s harvest also was expected to start at the end of June and last until early to mid-September.

Michigan will wrap up the domestic deal with harvesting starting at the beginning of July and lasting until September.

Naturipe Berry Growers, Salinas, Calif., offers blueberries year-round, said Craig Moriyama, director of berry operations.

The company should be “going full steam” out of central California growing areas like Delano and Bakersfield by the first week of May, he said.

Although cool weather held up the start of the crop, volume was picking up in April as conditions improved.

California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, expected its Georgia crop to be winding down in early May, when the company will switch to California.

“The (California) crop looks really good,” said Cindy Jewell, vice president of marketing.

The company’s blueberry volume should be similar to last year, she said. Picking should continue in California through June.

Manor, Ga.-based J&B Blueberry Farms Inc. was picking blueberries in mid-April, a little earlier than usual because of the mild winter, said Jason Cornelius, farm manager and owner of Cornelius and Sons Farms.

The crop should go until early July, perhaps finishing a little earlier because of the early start.

The biggest issue in Georgia as the season began was getting enough workers under the federal government’s H-2A program to pick the berries, Cornelius said.

In New Jersey, grower Dennis Doyle, chairman of the Hammonton-based New Jersey Blueberry Advisory Council, expected picking to start June 15 and continue until Aug. 15.

“The crop is progressing quite well,” he said in mid-April. “The workers are in the field getting things done.”

Blueberry volume could be down in some established fields in Oregon this season because of a hot and dry summer last year, said Dave Martin, crop advisor for Curry & Co. Inc., Brooks, Ore.

Good quality berries on the way

Organics clean up

Infographic: Berry purchases by region

When will Michigan fresh produce be in season?

You may have noticed in recent weeks that your supermarket has blueberries, strawberries and asparagus at pretty reasonable prices. These products are either absent or highly priced for most of the cold weather months in Michigan because they are grown along the west coast, in Florida or imported from other countries. However, there is some good news waiting for you at your supermarkets in the near future.

Michigan Fresh has an availability guide that provides year round guidance for fruits and vegetables grown in Michigan. There are cold weather products that may be available year round in certain locations in Michigan. Many new farmers are developing operations that might supply local markets and make these products available regardless of the season.

When can Michiganders begin seeing Michigan grown products like strawberries, blueberries and asparagus? Certainly consult the availability guide for general directions and pay attention to special advertising by big box retailers and farmers markets in early spring to be sure. Typically, cold weather Michigan produce can be seen on store shelves or in small retail markets, farms and farmers markets as early as January in the form of salad greens, kale, collard greens, beets and many fresh herbs. The strawberries, asparagus and blueberries vary a bit, but as a general rule, expect asparagus in mid-May, strawberries in mid-June and blueberries in late July through August. Stock up when they come and freeze the berries by following these helpful guidelines on storing short term by using these methods.

How to Find the Season’s Best Berries

In 1983, Jim Cochran and Mark Matze founded Swanton Berry Farm on four acres of rented land in central California. Although Matze left after a few years, Cochran soldiered on with his crop of organic strawberries. By 1987, Swanton Berry was certified as the first organic strawberry farm in California, and by 2011, Cochran had received the NRDC’s Growing Green Award. Today, Swanton Berry Farm has a reputation among Bay Area foodies for selling some of the region’s best produce, including blackberries, cauliflower, and of course, strawberries.

According to Cochran, strawberry and cane berry flavor is mostly determined by variety and by ripeness. Careful pickers can easily sell the ripest berries, but Cochran says that most supermarkets – and even other organic farmers – generally sell lower flavor varieties to maximize their profits. Higher flavor varieties tend to produce less fruit, despite being the same size plant. So, each berry is more flavorful, but the decreased crop size hurts profits.

“Farmers make more money on lower flavor varieties because they don’t get much – if any – price premium for flavor,” says Cochran.

“Farmers make more money on lower flavor varieties because they don’t get much – if any – price premium for flavor,” says Cochran, who adds that most supermarket and farmer’s market berries are lower flavor. “Local organic farmers have done the math, too. We grow higher flavor berries and have very loyal customers, but make less money than we could if we took the other route.”

Though most savvy shoppers would be skeptical of generic supermarket produce, blind trust in local organic produce can also be misplaced. In order to secure the best berries, keep an eye out for farms – like Swanton Berry – that have an open, vested interest in cultivating for quality, not quantity.

As for specific berries, Cochran prefers the strawberry – “I find most other berries disappointing.” – but says that they are much more difficult and expensive to grow than other kinds, such as blackberries. According to Cochran, blackberries grow well in different climates, have few pests, and, once established, produce fruit for multiple seasons. Strawberries, however, are subject to many pests and diseases, and are highly sensitive to climate conditions.

“They require lots of attention – labor,” he says. “In any given season, you are likely to be hit by one or more problems, which can reduce yield to below optimal. And, since your labor costs are very high, you can’t afford too many hits.”

This might explain why the average strawberry, grown by a less scrupulous farmer, may be more hit-or-miss than other berries, like the more vigorous raspberry. Regardless, the well-grown fruit will always trump the “factory farm” mentality – something to keep in mind for your next berry spree.

Buyer’s Guide

Strawberries: Generally best from mid-June to early July, look for berries that are dry, firm, deep red in color, with intact stems – they do not ripen further after picking.

Raspberries: Find fully colored raspberries that hold their shape, since soft berries spoil sooner, ripened in late June and early July.

Blackberries: Available from May to September, but peak in June and July; look for shininess, as the blackberry’s dull color is a good sign of its age.

Blueberries: Purchase smooth-skinned, dark blue or purple berries, making sure to avoid juice-stained containers, from mid-June to mid-August.

When is the right time to pick blueberries?

Hot Network Questions

  • How to check if two arrays are equal even if they contain NaN values in Julia?
  • Is my river map even remotely realistic?
  • Is it considered bad practice to use company name as part of an SSID?
  • Is it safe to rub WD-40 in to a brass insert on a circuit board?
  • What are good resources to use to learn how to best use pawns and pawn structures?
  • Purpose of ‘bore’ on spoke nipples – why are spoke nipples not threaded through their entire length?
  • is it always “no causation without manipulation”?
  • Is there something specifically wrong with keeping the 8 precepts as a lay person?
  • What is a good way to find some other western friends in a foreign city?
  • How would one make a reactor harder to produce over time?
  • My first Riley riddle, double Riley riddle
  • Can using a VPN prevent my ISP from seeing data usage in 4G internet?
  • Confusion about how bleed works
  • RaspberryPi 3 B+: RPi restart whenever I tried to run two webcams simultaneously
  • Why can’t I access a pointer to pointer for a stack array?
  • How can merging two sorted arrays of N items require at least 2N – 1 comparisons in every case?
  • Can we call forms like “Зин”, “Дим”, “мам”, “пап” vocative case?
  • How are imaginary numbers useful in video game creation?
  • Story where a man can recognize any place on any planet from a single image
  • Why doesn’t printf escape newlines?
  • Given fluids expand non-linearly how were physicists able to make a linear temperature scale?
  • Notation for “the” left adjoint functor
  • How does a cleric’s Destroy Undead work in 5e?
  • Is reductio ad absurdum a fallacy?

more hot questions

Find out when the best time for blueberry picking is in your area. Or when to find them local berries at your farmer’s market or grocery store.

The term “superfood” has been playing a large role in our vocabulary.

People are looking to eat foods that contain a high level of nutrition in hopes of fighting off diseases like cancer.

One of the foods at the top of that list is blueberries. So it’s no surprise that more and more places are growing them.

Typically with most fruits you find in the supermarket, you only get them from a couple states, maybe including your own. However I am noticing that more and more blueberries from many different states are arriving on my local grocery store shelves.

No other item in the produce department comes from so many different places. I thought I would take a look at these states and talk about their crops and when they are harvested.

This post will help you know when to buy them or when to go picking for yourself.

Also at the end I will make mention of wild blueberries.

When Are Blueberries Harvested in Each State?

On a nationwide level you can expect the first blueberries to arrive for the year from Florida, followed by other southern states and California. Then Texas makes an appearance before a sizable crop from New Jersey hits the stores. Michigan, Maine, and other northern states round out the year. Below you will find a table of the average harvest times (each year can be slightly different). Make sure you buy local during your state’s season.

State Harvest Time
Michigan July to Labor Day
California May to late June
Florida late March to late May
Georgia early May to July
Texas, June to August
Mississippi late May to early July
Louisiana late May to mid July
New Jersey mid June to mid August
North Carolina mid May to mid July
Oregon, late June to early August
Maine late July to late September
Idaho August to September

I want share with you a few highlights from some of the different’s states blueberry seasons.

Florida

Florida offers the first blueberry crop of the year to make a scene on the national level, giving them a huge advantage. The Florida season lasts about 6 to 8 weeks.

Georgia

Depending on how the crop in Florida looks and how Georgia’s crop is, they will replace the Florida grown berries in the stores around early May. Did you know that blueberries are actually Georgia’s most lucrative crop? They may be known as the Peach State but more money has made on blueberries than peaches.

North Carolina

A little while after the Georgia crop you will start seeing North Carolina grown blueberries. In the 1930s it was discovered that parts of North Carolina has the acidic soil that blueberries thrive in, so commercial production began. Blueberries are native to North Carolina. Hop’n Blueberry Farm (Black Mountain, NC) are raising native North Carolina Mountain blueberries. They are growing a variety called “Columbine” that normally grows at 4500 feet or higher and their altitude is 2700 feet, yet they are doing well. These berries are smaller in size but not on flavor, sweetness, and anti-oxidant levels. I was excited to hear someone trying to grow and preserve the native varieties.

Mississippi & Louisiana

Both these states have a crop to offer just after the Georgia crop. The Miss-Lou Blueberry Growers Cooperative out of Franklinton, LA is a joint effort by farms from both states. It was established in 1984. I found a nice list of varieties that are grown in Missisippi that you can check out here: http://www.extension.org/pages/29236/early-season-blueberry-varieties

California

Most of the California blueberries hit the market in May and June. But some growers are able to get a crop even early such as Family Tree Farms out of Reedley, CA. Watch the video below on how they grow their berries.

Texas

Starting in June, Texas grown blueberries hit the market place. The Texas Blueberry Festival in Nacogdoches, TX runs in early June and has been going on for over 20 years.

New Jersey

Around the middle of June, New Jersey grown berries start to dominate the market place. When I see Jersey grown in the stores I know that my Michigan berries aren’t far behind.

Michigan

Now onto my home state. I can’t wait for blueberry season to begin each July. Michigan leads the nation in the production of high bush variety berries. Blueberries can be found throughout the state, however the southwest corner of the Lower Peninsula is covered with blueberry farms, so the u-pickers have quite a number of options.

Maine & Wild Blueberries

Maine is the leading producer of lowbush blueberries in the United States. Blueberries were all orginally lowbush, the higher bush varieties came along later. While this helped the blueberry industry develop across the United States, the original low bush varieties or wild blueberries are said to have the superior flavor. One Maine wild blueberry farm is Peace & Plenty Farm. They grow 100% organic wild blueberries in the High Peaks region of western Maine. They rely on native pollinators and are on a three year rotation for cutting their fields.

Maine wild blueberries are frozen and shipped across the country. G.M. Allen & Son Inc is one company that has been in the wild blueberry business for going on 4 generations now. Their blueberries are the ones used by Ann Arbor, Michigan based Zingerman’s Bakehouse in their pies and blueberry buckle. If you have never seen wild blueberries before check out a video of their farm and see how these berries are harvested. You will then know why the high bush varieties came on the scene!

Blueberry Syrup Recipe

When blueberries are in season, I love to make syrup with them. Perfect for putting onto pancakes.

I dispense the syrup using the Ergo Spout (play 30 second video below)

The syrup can be made using just blueberries, water, corn starch and sugar. I like to spice it up with ground cardamon and fresh lemon zest. I add the just of the lemon if my blueberries are extra sweet.

Spiced Blueberry Syrup

An easy to make blueberry syrup with ground cardamon.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1 lemon zest removed

Instructions

  1. In medium saucepan combined the sugar and 1/2 cup of the water. Stir to combine.

  2. Add the blueberries to the pot. Bring to a boil.

  3. Slowly stir in the corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup of water.

  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until you reach a syrup consistency that you like.

  5. Remove the heat. Stir in the lemon zest and cardamon if using. Add the lemon juice to taste.

  6. For a smooth syrup, pour the syrup throw a strainer to remove the skin of the berries.

  7. Keeps in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. This means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. These are products and services I recommend because I use or trust them. Cookies will be used to track the affiliate links you click.

Blueberry Season

SHARE:

Blueberry Season

Blueberry season means long, hot summer days with icy-cold lemonade. Blueberry season also means scarves and steaming-hot muffins. Fresh flowers and fresh blueberry salads. Tailgates and blueberry guacamole. Because every season is blueberry season!

The Fresh

Blueberry cravings don’t follow a calendar. You can enjoy fresh blueberries year-round! The North American blueberry season and harvest runs from April to late September. Then, imports from in South America fill the grocery store shelves from October to March. In our winter, they’re experiencing sunny summer – perfect for harvesting blueberries. It’s always summer somewhere, so you get twelve months of plump, juicy blueberry bliss.

The Frozen

Also available any time? Frozen blueberries. They’re frozen straight from the farm, with all the good stuff locked in: nutrients, freshness and flavor. And, frozen blueberries are easy. (You could probably use a little more easy.) Just make frozen blueberries a freezer staple. They’re a healthy shortcut, whether you’re grabbing a quick snack, packing lunches or cooking up a storm. With frozen blueberries, you’ll never have to choose between good and good for you again.

Frozen blueberry tips and tricks:
Frozen blueberries are available in the freezer aisle year-round for your convenience!

  • Frozen blueberries are available in the freezer aisle year-round for your convenience!
  • You can freeze and store fresh blueberries for up to 10 months in your freezer.
  • Line up your taste-testers – we’ve got mouth-watering frozen blueberry recipes ready to go. Just browse or download our Goodness Frozen e-book.

Browse all our recipes and enjoy delicious, nutritious blueberries all year long.

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

Making $1.50 an hour to pick blueberries

This week I’m bringing you segments from my documentary, “Voices from the Fields,” a story of migrant workers in Michigan. It will air Wednesday on Stateside.

Listen Listening… / 7:10 To hear the audio story, click here

Michigan is the nation’s largest producer of blueberries. But getting blueberries to our bowls means long tedious work for the people who pick them. And in some cases, workers complain that the pay is far too low.

When I was reporting for this documentary, I visited the Hamilton Family.

When I met up with them they were living in a broken down trailer behind an old flea market garage and a vacant parking lot cluttered with tall weeds in southwest Michigan.

Seven people were living in the trailer. One of them was Randy Hamilton Sr., the father of the family. They are white and are a minority in the fields. Hamtilon Sr. has been doing migrant work since he was in 8th grade. That’s when he dropped out of school in order to make money picking in the fields.

“There’s no other jobs for us that you’ve got a high school diploma, and we don’t have it,” he says.

The Hamilton’s were out of work and out of money.

They quit their job picking blueberries in southwest Michigan. That’s because they couldn’t keep up with the picking demands in order to make minimum wage.

Making $1.50 an hour under piece rate pay

Here’s how pay usually works in the blueberry business: Pickers are paid what is called a piece rate. That means they are paid by the amount of fruit they can pick. The Hamilton’s were getting paid 42 cents for picking a pound of blueberries. That means they had to pick about 18 pounds of blueberries an hour in order to make minimum wage.

Farmers say it is a system that motivates workers.

Now, some workers can’t pick 18 pounds of blueberries an hour. And when workers aren’t making minimum wage, farmers are supposed to make up the difference. But that doesn’t always happen. And that didn’t happen when Randy Hamilton Jr. took a look at the family’s checks for the first time.

“I said, this ain’t right, our checks ain’t right. We worked 21 hours. That can’t be right,” he says.

The Hamilton family made between $1.50 and $2.70 an hour, less than half of minimum wage.

Hamilton Jr. says, “Basically, the way they paying us, I don’t know how anybody can make it.”

And the Hamilton’s weren’t the only ones who had wage problems at this particular farm. Other pickers were complaining too. So the workers called a meeting with the owner of the operation. His name is Tony Marr.

“They didn’t want to work, they talked about unionizing, they talked about other things and I said, ‘I really need you guys to go back and pick,” Marr says.

Making $15 an hour under piece rate pay

But Marr did listen to the workers complaints, and they came to a compromise. Marr raised the piece rate from 42 cents a pound to 46 cents a pound. He also invested in a digital weighing system that keeps better track of how much workers pick. Now he says he’s paying workers much higher than minimum wage.

Marr says quite a few of his workers were making between $12 and $15 an hour.

So while it looks like things got better at Marr’s farm, low wages are still a problem elsewhere. Hamilton Jr. says he and his family have been paid less than minimum wage working in fields all across the U.S.

“We went through it in South Carolina, North Carolina, coming up this way, I mean growing up. . . Not just here, Florida, South Carolina, we’ve been through West Virginia, Illinois, we’ve been treated the same way,” he says.

Prevalence of low wages for migrant workers

Tom Thornburg is an attorney with Farm Worker Legal Services in Kalamazoo. He says the piece rate system is unsustainable. Just imagine trying to picking 18 pounds of blueberries, hour after hour, for up to 12 hours a day.

“You can’t keep it up hour after hour, you have to go to the bathroom, you have to stop, it’s hot out there,” Thornburg says.

Thornburg says he sees wage issues all the time in Michigan.

He says about a third of the calls that come into his office have to do with workers not getting paid as much as they should.

“It’s widespread,” Thornburg says. “It’s nearly ubiquitous because it is almost an impossibility that a person would get minimum wage for every hour that they put in for the employer under that system.”

And low wages were also an issue addressed in a 2010 report about migrant workers by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

Marcelina Trevino-Savala is an attorney with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. She says it’s difficult to get a handle on the scope of the problem just by looking at the number of complaints.

“We are talking about a community who is hard working and kind of likes to be under the radar as far as being troublemakers or bringing up issues that they are entitled to bring up, but unfortunately, sometimes having that secure job and working under those conditions, it’s better than bringing up issues that might ultimately lead to a termination that they fear regardless if it’s lawful or unlawful,” Marcelina Trevino Savala says.

Farmers don’t get a lot from money spent at the grocery store

But farmers disagree. Craig Anderson is with the Michigan Farm Bureau. He says he doesn’t think wages are a problem for farm workers. He says the numbers he sees indicate that farm workers pay is actually pretty good.

“Virtually every set of payroll data that I look at, most folks on the piece rate are making more than the minimum wage, some significantly more than the minimum wage during most weeks,” Anderson says.

But Anderson says anyone who thinks the bulk of what they pay at the grocery store goes back to farmers are dead wrong.

“Depending on the estimates, it ranges between 4 and 20 cents for the different commodities that are out there,” Anderson says.

Americans pay less for groceries every year, which doesn’t help migrant workers or farmers

And that’s not a lot of money for the farmer, let alone the farm worker. And we are expected to see a lot more sales on things like blueberries and apples this year. That’s because of a large harvest of those crops in Michigan and other states.

Yet while we like to see sales, we are actually spending way less on groceries overall year after year. According to the USDA Americans spend 6% of their disposable income on groceries. That’s down from about 10% back in the early 1980s.

And we want to pay less and less all the time, which means less and less for farmers. And it means even less for farm workers.

Visit Louisiana’s Pick-Your-Own Farms

While Louisiana’s farmers markets are great spots for picking up fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies, so are our pick-your-own farms.

A visit to a pick-your-own farm is a fun, family-friendly thing to do in Louisiana.

Teach your kids about where their food really comes from, and savor the flavors of berries fresh off the vine.

No matter what you’re picking, there are a few things to keep in mind for your visit. Always call the farm in advance to inquire about hours and make sure the produce is prime for picking. Some pick-your-own farms post updates on crops and farm conditions on their websites or Facebook pages. Also ask if baskets and other picking supplies are provided.

Remember, you’re visiting a farm, so dress appropriately. Wear closed-toe shoes, loose clothing and a hat. Pack your sunscreen too.

At the farm, ask the owners or workers for their picking tips. They can tell you how to select ripe fruit and how to store and freeze your harvest once you get home. They may even have some recipes to share.

Louisiana’s farms most often offer you-pick strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Growing seasons for these berries vary throughout the state, but April is typically prime time for strawberries, with blueberries and blackberries following from May through mid-July.

Louisiana’s Pick-Your-Own Farms to experience on your trip to Louisiana:

Berry Sweet Orchards: Travel north of Baton Rouge to the town of Ethel, and you’ll find Louisiana’s first state-certified organic “you-pick” blueberry farm boasting more than 1,500 blueberry bushes that are 30 years old.

Hillcrest Blueberry Farm: At this large farm south of Gloster, you can pick blueberries and blackberries and select other berry items from the store located in their state-of-art processing facility.

Blue Harvest Farms: You’ll find Premier, Brightwell and Powder Blue blueberry varieties at this chemical-free farm in Covington.

Blahut Strawberry Farm: Pick a gallon of strawberries at Blahut in Holden, and then head to nearby Tickfaw State Park for a picnic.

Landry-Poche Farms: This pick-your-own strawberry farm in Holden is home to the 2013 Strawberry Festival king.

Louisiana Herbs: Located on the historic Breston Plantation in Riverton, this herb farm grows a wide array of organic herbs. Take their Wine & Dine Plantation and Herb Farm Tour or purchase fresh cut herbs or live plants to enhance your recipes.

Liuzza Produce Farm: Take a guided wagon tour to see what’s growing on the Liuzza farm in Amite. Depending on the season, you may have the opportunity to pick strawberries, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and more. In the fall, choose a perfect carving pumpkin right off the vine.

Mrs. Heather’s Farms: In Albany, children can actually walk through the Strawberry Patch and pick their own strawberries to take home with them. When you come to the farm, you’ll also get to enjoy all the fun activities that Mrs. Heather has set up for you!

3D Blueberry Farm: Just outside Franklinton, head to the 3D Blueberry farm to pick multiple varieties including Rabbiteye blueberries. They also have a variety of jams and syrups to take home.

Ridemore Blueberry Farm: In Covington (just a short drive from New Orleans) visit the Ridemore farm to pick blueberries, blackberries, figs and an assortment of veggies. Stay for a picnic in the shaded picnic area and visit the honey bees and other farm animals.

While you are planning your farm experience, or after your fun visit to one of Louisiana’s blueberry farms, try our recipe for Louisiana Blueberry Lemonade.

Minnesota’s Blueberry and Raspberry Season Starts Soon

Minnesota blueberries and summer raspberries will be ready for picking soon. Growers across the state have reported fields full of blossoms and are expecting to be open for pick-your-own and pre-picked blueberries and raspberries the first two weeks of July.

Blueberry and raspberry season starts towards the end of strawberry season. As with strawberries, seasonal availability begins in southern Minnesota and moves northward. Blueberry season usually lasts at least 3 full weeks depending on the variety and weather conditions. Mild temperatures in the 70s and 80s extend the season and allow berries to ripen at a steady pace, while excessive heat can cause berries to ripen more quickly and shorten the season.

Minnesota blueberry and raspberry varieties are grown for their robust, juicy flavor, and not for long shelf life or shipping ability. Sam Kedem of Sam Kedem Nursery & Garden in Hastings shares tips on how to pick and preserve Minnesota berries.

“Blueberries and raspberries are best harvested during the morning hours and should be refrigerated as soon as possible,” said Kedem. “Wait to rinse your berries until you are ready to use them. Raspberries can be kept in the fridge for up to four days, and blueberries will keep for about a week. Both kinds of berries freeze well, too, so you can enjoy them throughout the year.”

Bill Hein of Straight River Farm in Faribault recommends using color to gauge ripeness.

“Color change typically signals that it is time to harvest, so look for a deep color,” said Hein. “Mature berries will detach easily. If you have to tug, the berry’s not ripe yet.”

Danielle Daugaard of Minnesota Grown recommends calling ahead before visiting a pick-your-own farm to verify hours.

“Picking berries is a great outdoor activity for all ages,” said Daugaard. “Prepare for being outside. Bring hats, sunscreen, and a water bottle. Most farms provide containers, but call ahead to ask if you need to bring your own.”

The Minnesota Grown Directory, available or online, is a great place to find local pick-your-own berry operations or farmers market. The 2018 Directory includes 36 summer raspberry farms, 31 blueberry farms, and other specialty berry farms like elderberries, currants, honey berries, and aronia berries. Free, printed copies of the Directory can be ordered online or by calling 1-888-TOURISM (1-888-868-7476).

###

Media Contact
Alauna Yust, MDA Communications
651-201-6629

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *