Fresh Wild Blueberry Season is Officially Here–Celebrate with Us in Maine
If you’ve grown up in Maine or spent a lot of time in Vacationland, then you know that summer means one thing: fresh, wild blueberry season! For a lot of us, wild blueberry season certainly brings back fond memories of raking wild blueberries, filling buckets and eating them before you get home, making tasty pies, or buying fresh wild blueberries at a local farm stand. During this time of year, we also like to recognize the farmers and all the hard work that goes into harvesting these naturally occurring, wild berries that Mother Nature put there more than 10,000 years ago.
As one of North America’s three native fruits, wild blueberries have never been planted, and are only commercially harvested in Maine and parts of Eastern Canada during late summer. Many of the 485 Maine farmers who carefully steward and harvest these wild blueberries have been doing so for generations and have created a unique heritage. To celebrate this wild, native-to-Maine berry, let’s dive into more information about where they come from, their health benefits, and more.
Why Wild Blues are Different Than Ordinary Blueberries
Maine currently has more than 38 thousand acres of wild blueberries, primarily in the Midcoast and Downeast regions of the state, and each field contains thousands of different varieties of wild blueberry plants. Looking at a field is a site to behold. You’ll see a tight-knit, ankle high carpet of color waves ranging from purple to blue, and it’s this variety that translates into a distinct taste ranging from sweet to somewhat tangy that when combined is often described as the “blueberriest” blueberry flavor.
Did you know that wild blueberries provide you with a higher skin-to-pulp ratio than ordinary, larger blueberries? Since wild blueberries are much smaller, they contain less water (making them great for baking), and possess more antioxidant-rich pigments, more fiber, and a more intense tangy, sweet flavor than ordinary blueberries. These wonderous wild berries are also loaded with 33% more brain-healthy anthocyanins than normal blueberries. Anthocyanins are the plant compounds found in the skin of the Wild Blueberry that give them their pretty purply-blue hue.
Each summer, farmers all over Maine collectively harvest millions of pounds of wild blueberries. While 99% of the harvested crop is frozen at peak ripeness to lock in nutrition and taste, a small amount is sold fresh at local markets, roadside farm stands, fairs and festivals, or used in value-added products like jam, syrup, wine, beer, and more. If you can’t make it to Maine during fresh season, you can purchase frozen wild blueberries in the freezer aisle of your local grocery store–just make sure it says “wild” on the packaging!
Celebrate Our Native Berry During Wild Blueberry Weekend, August 7-8, 2021
This year, we’re celebrating Maine’s native berry and the hardworking farmers that harvest this iconic crop during the first annual Wild Blueberry Weekend. On August 7th and 8th, people will have the opportunity to visit 15+ farms participating in the event to rake wild blueberries, learn about harvesting practices, and see where their food comes from. Mainers and visitors will also be able to try wild blueberry-themed menu items at 40+ participating restaurants, inns, bars, and wineries across Maine. The best part? You can plan your weekend to fit your family’s interests. Visit Downeast Maine to pick wild blueberries, or simply check out a local establishment that has wild blues on the menu. Learn more about Wild Blueberry Weekend and plan your Eat, Drink, Experience itinerary today!