Wild Blueberries

Blueberry_FieldIt’s August and in Down East Maine it is blueberry picking time for the low-bush blueberries. The town of Cherryfield is “The Blueberry Capitol of the World”. Blueberries are grown everywhere in the region on “barrens”.

Lowbush blueberries grow no more than a foot above the ground, forming a dense mat of plants.   They spread underground and as a result are the first growth to return after a fire. In fact: blueberry fields are burned every few years to keep down the pest and disease population and to encourage new growth. They are also one of only 3 berries native to North America.

Blueberry_Bunch

They taste “wicked good” and they are good for you…loaded with antioxidents. We have a camp up in them thar woods so, blueberries are a summer staple. Several summers ago when, my youngest rode back to camp after a full day of working for the blueberry farm:  I noticed his lips were all greyish blue. I got nervous and asked him if he was feeling alright. He asked why and I told him. I guess I had a senior moment because I should have remembered from the other kids…he had eaten so many berries that they colored his mouth blue. When the children were little, we would sit them in a good patch and let them stuff their little faces.             Z_Raking

The boy in the picture is holding a blueberry rake.  It is a scoop with tines. You swipe under the blueberry plants, rake in hand and pull up blueberries, a few twigs and leaves. After many pounds
of berries and a sore back, the berries go to be winnowed. That’s where air blows the twigs and leaves,and anything that is light, separating that from the blueberries (the wheat from the chaff). Then anything that rolls, comes down the moving belt and into the awaiting containers for market.              

Blueberries stain fiber, they don’t dye it. After repeated washings the fiber will eventually return to its natural color.

Cleaning_Berries

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